When you think of affordable cars that are fun to drive, you might imagine a peppy Volkswagen GTI, a zippy Mazda, or even a roaring Mustang. But if we told you the 2021 Ford Escape compact crossover offers an entertaining ride, would you believe us?
Sure, the Escape is safe and reliable, but it’ll surprise you.
The Ford Escape gets high ratings
U.S. News ranks the 2021 Ford Escape in the top four compact SUVs. Evaluation is based on 26 data and research elements. The Escape also ranks eighth in two-row SUVs and 12th in crossover SUVs.
Overall, the Escape receives 8.1 out of 10. Safety comes in exceptionally high at 9.7. It scores a 7.2 in performance. And it earns a 4.5 out of 5 for reliability.
The Ford Escape at a glance
Standard on the 2021 Ford Escape S is a 1.5-liter EcoBoost 3-cylinder engine, AutoTrader reports. Producing 180 hp, the front-wheel-drive Escape S gets better fuel economy than many other compact SUVs. The 2020 model rated 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, which is also expected for the 2021 model.
Cloth bucket seats and 17-inch steel wheels come standard on this five-seater. The infotainment system includes six speakers, a 4.3-in SYNC display, Bluetooth, voice recognition, and Wi-Fi.
If you want a more powerful Ford Escape, you can upgrade to 250 hp, which will cut fuel economy a bit. So if you’re looking for the most fuel-efficient model, check out the Escape Hybrid.
You can also upgrade the interior to genuine leather or synthetic leather seating, power-adjustable front seats with optional heating, and a heated steering wheel.
New for the 2021 model
This year, the Ford Escape Hybrid is a plug-in. It gets an EPA-estimated 102 mpg-e combined. But its electric range is only 37 miles.
The technology package, available on the Escape Titanium model, is upgraded this year with an optional hands-free, foot-activated liftgate, AutoTrader reports. The package also includes memory features for the driver’s seat and side-view mirrors.
Look for a few other minor tweaks on various packages. They include a new rear-center armrest with cup holders with the SE Convenience Package. There are also a few new exterior colors to choose from, including Antimatter Blue, Carbonized Gray, Bronze Fire, and Iconic Silver.
The Escape’s pros and cons
The 2021 Ford Escape gets high safety marks from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA gives it five out of five stars. This compact SUV also earns the highest rating in five Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests.
Standard advanced safety features include a rearview camera, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, and forward collision warning, Car and Driver reports. Optional advanced driver-assist and safety features include lane centering, rear parking sensors, parallel and perpendicular park assist, and stop-and-go adaptive cruise control.
Other positive features are the sliding rear seat and generous cargo space. The Ford Escape is comfortable, quiet, and easy to handle. It also has an excellent predicted reliability rating.
There aren’t many drawbacks. Ford could use better interior materials, and the styling is somewhat simplistic. Some drivers have found the transmission occasionally hunts to find the correct gear, Car and Driver reports.
The 2021 Escape is a great value that’s fun to drive
Thanks to the 2021 Ford Escape’s smooth suspension and easy handling, it offers a fun ride. And its relatively roomy cabin seating and sliding seats for extended legroom make this compact crossover an enjoyable ride.
The simple SYNC 3 infotainment system is easy to reach and easy to use, offering stress-free entertainment. The sound system is decent, too. And the optional heated steering wheel and heated front seats are thoughtful touches.
Plus, the Ford Escape is quick, able to hit 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, Car and Driver reports. That makes the Escape quicker than most others in its class. And the four-wheel-drive model is a road hugger while not under- or over-steering.
And with an estimated starting price of only $26,130 according to Car and Driver, the 2021 Ford Escape offers plenty of value in a fun package.