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From entry-level to upscale and everything in between, Ford offers an SUV to fulfill drivers’ desires. For budget-conscious buyers, the 2023 Escape starts at under $30,000. Though the cheapest Ford SUV gets several things wrong, it also does plenty right. Here are the pros and cons of the 2023 Ford Escape.

The 2023 Ford Escape at a glance

2023 Ford Escape trims: ST-Line Elite Rapid Red
2023 Ford Escape ST-Line Elite in Rapid Red | Ford Motor Company

Ford starts the 2023 Escape base model at $28,000. Trims levels are the entry-level Active, ST-Line, ST-Line Select, ST-Line Elite, Platinum, and Plug-In Hybrid. It also offers three engines and four powertrains to choose from.

The fuel-conscious 1.5-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost makes 180 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque. Next is the direct-injection 2.0-liter turbocharged variant. It produces 250 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, providing good acceleration. Then there’s a 2.5-liter Atkinson-Cycle inline-four hybrid powertrain; its regenerative braking captures energy for battery charging. Last is the 2.5-liter inline-four plug-in hybrid, boasting extended range and standard 120V outlet charging.

The combined EPA-estimated fuel economy for the 1.5-liter base model is 30 mpg with front-wheel drive and 28 mpg with all-wheel drive. The larger 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with AWD gets 26 mpg, and the PHEV achieves 40 mpg on gas alone and 101 MPGe with gas and electric.

What does the 2023 Ford Escape do wrong?

Front view of red 2023 Ford Escape compact SUV
2023 Ford Escape | Ford

This compact SUV has several notable drawbacks:

  • Uninspiring handling
  • Noisy base engine
  • Clunky transmission
  • Cheap-looking interior
  • Safety recalls

Its performance flaws include uninspiring handling, a noisy base engine, and a clunky transmission that doesn’t shift very smoothly.

Furthermore, the interior is cheap-looking, with low-end trim, cloth upholstery, and too much hard plastic. However, higher trim levels boast better materials, including more soft-touch surfaces.

In addition, the NHTSA shows several 2023 Ford Escape recalls already. Affected models might have a cracked fuel injector that could cause a fire, engine compartment failure with fire risk, and/or a malfunctioning instrument panel that fails to illuminate critical safety information, such as warning lights or the speedometer reading, increasing the risk of a crash.

What does the 2023 Ford Escape do right?

That’s not to say the 2023 Ford Escape is all bad. Indeed, it gets many things right, including the following:

  • Sporty exterior design
  • Powerful optional engines
  • Decent fuel economy
  • Easy-to-use updated infotainment system
  • A deep layer of advanced driver-assistance systems
  • Five-star NHTSA safety rating
  • Spacious seating

This SUV’s sporty exterior touts an updated design, with a new bumper shape, a revised grille, an LED bar that spans the front end, and enhanced angular LED headlights. Even the Blue Oval emblem moved to a more prominent spot at the grille’s center.

Ford also gave the 2023 Escape potent engine options, some with excellent fuel economy.

Other much-needed upgrades include an easy-to-use infotainment system with Ford Sync 4 software featuring over-the-air updates. While the standard infotainment screen and digital gauge cluster size measure 8.0 inches, an upgraded 13.2-inch screen with a 12.3-inch display is available. In addition, the infotainment system includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, a wireless phone charging pad, and a 360-degree camera display.

Despite its recalls, the Escape still earned a five-star NHTSA rating. Every trim also provides a deep layer of standard advanced driver-assistance systems.

And with spacious seating, the 2023 Ford Escape has plenty of what consumers want in an affordable, dependable vehicle.