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SUVS have certainly come down in price since their introduction. But they’re still a major purchase. And as such, you don’t want to go wrong with an uncomfortable, unreliable, or overly expensive vehicle. Unfortunately for Ford fans, three models—the 2023 Escape, 2023 Explorer, and 2022 EcoSport—have gotten some pushback from critics.

A red Ford Escape SUV driving down a road.
2023 Ford Escape | Ford

The 2023 Ford Escape isn’t a great value

Topping the list is the 2023 Ford Escape. Edmunds ranked it the bottom half of the small SUV segment (11 out of 15). They note that while this Ford SUV provides lackluster handling and a less-than-perfect transmission.

The base model comes with a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE), while the hybrid version will run you $30,000, and a plug-in hybrid runs a whopping $40,000. And as reviews notes, many other SUVs offer more features and practicality than the Escape.

However, the 2023 Escape is not without its charms. The five-seater earns some merit for its agile handling, updated exterior styling, and improved emissions efficiency. There is also a range of available trims and packages, allowing you to build and buy the exact Escape you want.

The Escape also comes with a generous helping of advanced safety features on every trim, including auto emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, rear-cross traffic alerts, and blind-spot monitoring, among others. These are all part of its Co-Pilot360 safety suite (which you’ll find on the Explorer and EcoSport as well).

Unfortunately, if you opt for a base model off the lot, you’ll be treated to an SUV with an underpowered powertrain. The base model has an eight-speed automatic transmission and a 181-hp 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine. For $27,000, you can easily find more powerful competitors (try a Kia, for example). It’s also not particularly comfortable, with unsupportive front seating.

The 2023 Ford Explorer has questionable reliability rankings

The 2023 Ford Explorer also didn’t get much praise from Edmunds. They ranked the Explorer 8th out of 13 midsize three-row SUVs, citing a lackluster hybrid option and expensive price jumps.

Like the Escape, the Explorer is expensive. With a base price of $36,760, your price tag could go up to as much as $54,075 for the King Ranch top-level trim (before upgrades, taxes, and fees).

However, unlike the Escape, you’ll get a powerful vehicle right out of the gate. Each trim comes with a 10-speed automatic transmission, and the base model (along with the XLT, ST-Line, Timberline, and Limited trims) all come with a 300 hp-generating 2.3-liter turbo-four engine.

In addition to CoPilot360, this three-row SUV has plenty of cargo space and interior room. The base model sports an 8.0-inch touchscreen that grows to 12.3 inches on higher trims. And WiFi hotspot capability, Bluetooth streaming, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay all come standard.

The 2022 Ford EcoSport doesn’t measure up to rival SUVs

Unlike the Explorer, the 2023 Ford EcoSport is not on the list because of pricing issues. In fact, they noted that for just over $20,000, the EcoSport might be considered a bargain. However, they noted that it underperforms relative to its competitors in the subcompact SUV space.

Actually, it’s being discontinued, but that doesn’t mean you won’t still find plenty of 2022 models on dealer’s lots for sale. 

But like the Escape and Explorer, the EcoSport does not offer much in its base model. According to Car and Driver, what you get standard with the base model is a tiny 4.2-inch infotainment touchscreen, 166-hp 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine, and minimal cargo room. It also lacks CoPilot360 and has a cheap-feeling interior.

Now the EcoSport does come with standard all-wheel drive. And it can tow 2,000 pounds, far more than its competitors. But it’s neither as fuel-efficient, powerful, comfortable, or feature-rich as the competition. And even if you opt for a top-of-the-line EcoSport, you’ll find competitors who offer the same features with better quality for less money.


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