Engine: 2-liter EcoBoost turbocharged I-4
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Torque: 280 lb.-ft.
EPA ratings: 23/city, 31/highway, 26/combined
Base price: $37,465
As tested: $41,965
Overview: The 2023 Ford Escape AWD Premium compact sport-utility vehicle (SUV) has refreshed styling and improved interior trim with desirable features that include an updated infotainment system. Besides a good urban size, it has a variety of engines with good fuel economy and is available as either front-wheel or all-wheel drive, which is what our Premium trim tester had.
Walkaround: The 2023 Ford Escape is a handsome compact SUV that’s not overdone with superfluous cladding and pseudo off-road-warrior gimmicks. It’s a practical, family SUV that will see more use on paved roads than muddy trails. The rear hatch opens high enough for very tall people, so access to the ample flat cargo area is excellent. Our tester had the handsome 19-inch wheels and panoramic vista roof, which greatly brightened the well-appointed interior.
Interior: Front seat room is excellent, with stretch-out comfort for driver and passenger. Back seat space is good, too, especially for a compact SUV. Our tester had a nice tilt/telescopic steering column with a heated, medium-thick steering wheel providing excellent auxiliary controls. The large infotainment screen had touch controls. Small item storage was very good, although the covered second half of the front door bins was difficult to access. The sun visors were big, as was the nonlocking glovebox. The console bin had a nicely padded armrest. Small item storage wasn’t as generous for the back seat. The split-folding rear seats had a considerable slope and were higher than the cargo floor, but cargo capacity was very good. Interior materials were good for the Premium trim, but the door panels still had a fair amount of plastic.
Behind the wheel: The Ford Escape was a pleasant driver and the 250-horsepower, turbo four-cylinder engine was peppy without being strained. The eight-speed automatic did a good job of managing power delivery smoothly without unnecessary hunting. National magazine testers have recorded sub-six second zero-to-60 times with the 250-horsepower engine. Freeway on-ramps and traffic merges were smooth and easy. We slightly beat the EPA highway estimate with a best of 31.6 mpg.
Bottom line: The 2023 Ford Escape compact five-passenger AWD SUV is an excellent compromise between exterior size and interior space. It works very well as a daily driver city vehicle, as well as a freeway commuter. It’s not an off-roader, but its excellent safety features, good fuel economy, roomy interior, ample cargo space, affordable price and all-wheel-drive for inclement weather make the Escape a smart choice for Pacific Northwest drivers.