2021 Ford Escape review highlights:
- 2021 Ford Escape ($25,555 – $40,130)
- Best Hybrid SUV – U.S. News
- Pros: Excellent fuel economy, comfortable interior, intuitive tech
- Cons: Lackluster styling, wind noise at highway speeds, could feel sportier
The 2021 Ford Escape might be underestimated compared to widely popular rivals such as the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. It’s surprisingly good, especially since its recent redesign in 2020 gave the crossover more room and increased power.
You can select from various engines and trim levels to suit your individual needs. The Escape shares parts with the Ford Bronco Sport and Ford Maverick but doesn’t match their rugged qualities. Instead, it offers a more relaxing and refined experience for comfort and convenience.
The interior creates a peaceful environment, despite having noticeable wind noise at highway speeds. The tech is praised for being easy to use, and plenty of standard safety features are included to provide a value-packed ride. But the styling lacks a bit of flair, and it doesn’t have a sporty attitude.
What’s new for the 2022 Escape?
The 2022 Ford Escape is primarily a carryover model from 2021. But there are a few new colors, such as Atlas Blue, Flight Blue, and Iced Blue.
In 2021, the hybrid powertrain became available on the SE and SEL trims. It’s also standard with the top-of-the-line Titanium model. Plus, adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition became available with the Co-Pilot360 Plus package.
An attractive 19-inch wheel design became optional for the Escape Titanium, and a Class II Trailer Tow package is now available for models equipped with the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.
Which Ford Escape trim is best?
There are 10 Ford Escape trim levels:
- Ford Escape S: $25,555
- Escape SE: $27,035
- SE Hybrid: $28,030
- Escape SEL: $29,505
- SEL Hybrid: $31,500
- SE Plug-in Hybrid: $34,320
- Titanium Hybrid: $34,845
- SEL Plug-in Hybrid: $37,060
- Titanium: $37,300
- Titanium Plug-In Hybrid $40,130
The 2021 Ford Escape SEL is a mid-range trim with tons of value without going up too high in price. It comes with faux leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel that’s heated, driver’s seat and exterior mirror memory settings, a hands-free power liftgate, fog lamps, and roof-rack side rails.
The 2021 Ford Escape is great to drive in all seasons
Our week with the 2021 Ford Escape Titanium PHEV involved a heatwave, freezing temperatures, and sleet. It seemed to conquer various conditions with poise and handled perfectly in slush despite not being equipped with all-wheel drive.
The standard engine is a 1.5-liter three-cylinder option with 181 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque. With this turbocharged engine, the Escape can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 7.7 seconds.
You can upgrade to the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine for 250 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. This engine helps the Escape reach 60 mph in about 5.7 seconds.
This is excitingly fast compared to rivals with upgraded engines. The gas-powered engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Every trim level can be equipped with AWD.
The Escape Hybrid features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that combine to generate 200 hp and 155 lb-ft of torque. With the plug-in hybrid, the same engine is paired with two electric motors to pump out 221 hp.
While the transmission shifts smoothly upon acceleration, it can be slow to downshift. The steering is light and provides a low-effort experience, but some drivers may want more responsive handling for a more engaging ride.
The Escape corners well with little to no body roll around curves. This SUV is agile and easier to maneuver in tight city areas. The available parking sensors and assist feature will quickly guide you around obstacles.
There are driving modes for Normal, Eco, Sport, Rain, and Snow. The Eco Mode is a bit sluggish, and the Sport Mode stiffens the suspension and provides more heft. The Rain and Snow Modes both noticeably enhanced the grip and control in inclement weather situations.
Is the 2021 Ford Escape good on gas?
The 2021 Ford Escape is pretty great on gas. With the larger 2.0-liter engine, you get an EPA-estimated 23 mpg in the city and up to 31 mpg on the highway.
With the smaller 1.5-liter engine, you get an EPA-estimated 27 mpg in the city and up to 33 mpg on the highway. Adding AWD drops these figures by about one MPG.
The Ford Escape Hybrid is rated at 40 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. According to Edmunds, this puts the Escape Hybrid on par with the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and is slightly better than the Honda CR-V Hybrid.
You get 37 miles of range with the Escape PHEV before gas kicks in. You can travel about 520 miles between fill-ups. It gets about 44 mpg in the city.
The Ford Escape is an extremely comfortable daily driver
The 2021 Ford Escape provides more than enough comfort to break free from the daily grind. You can relax in its large, supportive front seats with plenty of cushioning. The rear seats sit at a relaxing angle and include enough padding and thigh support for adults.
Drivers and passengers can relax as the suspension smooths out bumps and impacts for a composed ride. However, wind noise can be noticeable at highway speeds. The engine is pretty quiet, but you can hear it wheeze while accelerating in Eco Mode.
The Escape doesn’t offer ventilated seats or dual-zone climate control. However, the heated steering wheel and front seats work quickly to keep those in the front toasty during cold days. Also, the air conditioning works quickly to break the heat.
How is the Ford Escape’s interior?
While lower trim levels of the Ford Escape may seem a bit spartan, the higher trim levels are crafted with luxurious, high-quality materials, including leather-wrapped surfaces and pops of wood trim.
The layout is simple, and everything is placed conveniently within reach. It might be considered a bit bland if it didn’t provide two-tone color schemes to make things pop. The ambient lighting helps spice things up as well.
Large windows provide tons of visibility, and we were enamored by the massive panoramic moonroof. The textured panels and soft-touch surfaces offer a sense of elegance and value. However, extremely tall people may want more headspace in the rear.
The Ford Escape has plenty of room
You can access up to 37.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats with up to 65.4 cubes total. The rear seats don’t fold completely flat, but there is still a good deal of room for loading cargo.
The center console seems a bit shallow, but larger cubbies in the front make up for the difference. Also, the door pockets in the rear deliver tons of storage space for personal items.
When properly equipped, the Ford Escape can tow up to 3,500 lbs and carry a payload of up to 1,155 lbs. It can pull smaller teardrop campers and recreational vehicles.
The Ford Escape has modern tech
While the 2021 Ford Escape base model has a 4.2-inch radio display, higher trim levels come with a standard 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen. It’s powered by Ford Sync 3 software and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The system is straightforward and efficient to use. You can adjust the vehicle’s settings in a matter of seconds. Also, the voice commands are easily understood. The Escape would benefit from additional USB points in the front and rear.
We were impressed by how easy it is to adjust the 12.3-inch digital gauge display to provide the driver with different stats and crucial information. We didn’t have a model equipped with the optional head-up display.
You can opt for a wireless phone charging pad as well. We hope wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are integrated soon.
A six-speaker system comes standard, and you can upgrade to a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen system. The sound is strong, crisp, and clear, with punchy bass.
Driving aids like the automatic start and stop system work smoothly without delay. The blind-spot monitoring and lane-centering features work seamlessly in the background without harsh beeps and alerts that are a bit jarring in rivals.
Is the 2021 Ford Escape safe?
According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2021 Ford Escape is exceptionally safe. It even earned the Top Safety Pick award and received a ‘Good’ rating in most crash simulations. Good is the highest rating a vehicle can achieve.
The Escape did receive a Marginal rating for some side test categories and Acceptable ratings to protect legs and torsos in some evaluations. Also, the seat belt reminder received a poor rating for being slow to initiate and not lasting long enough.
The Escape earned a Good score for its child seat anchors. The seats are easy to quickly install without requiring too much force. The anchors aren’t placed too deep in the seats and aren’t placed near other hardware that could be confused for the anchors.
Standard safety features include:
- Forward collision warning
- Automatic emergency braking
- Lane-departure warning
- Lane-keeping assist
- Blind sport monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
How reliable is the Ford Escape?
According to Consumer Reports, the 2021 Ford Escape has a predicted reliability rating of five out of five. That’s much higher than average. The rating is based on problems that owners reported for previous model years.
The most extensive area of concern involves power equipment, which received the most complaints. Most of the problems were reported on Ford Escape models from 2019. The 2020 and 2021 received fewer reports, meaning the issues may have been corrected.
With proper care and routine maintenance, the Ford Escape can last over 250,000 miles. It should make it to 150,000 to 250,000 miles before needing major repairs. Newer models are even making it past 300,000 miles.
It costs about $600 to maintain a Ford Escape annually. This is great compared to the national average of $792 per year or about $66 per month. Maintenance costs may vary based on age, condition, and location.
MotorBiscuit gives the 2021 Ford Escape an expert rating of 8.2 out of 10
The MotorBiscuit editors awarded the 2021 Ford Escape an overall rating of 8.2 out of 10. The Ford Escape is extremely spacious, supportive, and comfortable for daily driving and longer trips.
However, despite having a peppy acceleration and AWD, it lacks a sporty, rugged attitude that comes with the Ford Bronco Sport and Ford Maverick. Also, it doesn’t offer air vents in the rear, or ventilated seats like rivals do.
Driving the Escape involves no fuss, and it handles confidently in slippery conditions. It has an average amount of cargo space and modern tech. The high-quality interior provides a sense of luxury that’s only disrupted by wind noise at highway speeds.
Overall, the Escape is a well-rounded family vehicle with no fuss. It’s also pretty efficient with an impressive electric range. It just has a generic look and borderline bland personality that holds it back from overthrowing competitors.