Ford 2017, the Ford Escape was given a number of styling and feature updates to keep it fresh against bristling competition. The best selling Ford this side of the F-Series pickups, it’s one of the Blue Oval’s most important models.

Exterior design was given a makeover which include the more subtle face that eschews the “kinetic” styling of the previous Escape. A more conservative hexagonal grille and squared off HID headlamps make their statement, a similar look to the Hyundai Santa Fe.

At the rear, new LED tail lamps and some new trim across the tailgate are matched by new wheel designs across the lineup. Our 2017 Ford Escape SE had a number of options including 18-inch alloy wheels that upped the presentation a few steps.

Starting at $25,100 the SE is the middle of the lineup between the base model and Titanium at the top. Our front wheel drive tester rang in at $33,660 having been loaded with options such as the 2.0 liter EcoBoost engine.

At 2.0 liters, it’s the power option over the standard 1.5 liter EcoBoost. With turbocharging and direct injection it offers up 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque smoothly and with little or no lag from its twin scroll turbocharger.

Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission instead of the CVT found in many competitors now, it was a fun powertrain to throttle and change gears with using its steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. It can roast the front tires if you choose, but hold onto the steering wheel as there is a good amount of torque steer.

17-ford-escape-3On the pavement, the suspension proved to be supple and refined with enough firmness to be thrown into a curve with some confidence. The ride was relatively quiet even with the panoramic roof that was optioned.

It was when we left the tarmac, the suspension began to protest with a rattle and a shudder such as on the desert washboard road. The rhythm of the surface caused a good deal of harshness and rattling with the interior trims as well.

Outside of that, the cabin itself is a comfortable place for the driver with a seating position that is decidedly “on” the vehicle rather than “in” it. Even shorter drivers will look down upon the dash and even see the hood for an SUV-like view out.

The driver seat was power adjustable, passenger manual. Ours was optioned with leather chairs front and rear, heated up front. It was a nice touch but Ford’s leather always seems to feel like plastic, even on the steering wheel.

17-ford-escape-5Rear seat passengers will enjoy recline adjustments but no lower cushion slider. There are HVAC vents back there and a 110v power outlet. The seats of course do fold down in a 60/40 split for a flat load floor.

Storage was a big bonus inside too with lots of bins for your phone, pockets here and there, and a generous cubby below the armrest. Material quality and a lack of detail when it comes to fit an finish inside was a downer here and there.

On the up side the optioned SYNC 3 touchscreen audio and navigation system was a home run. It’s new graphics are light and bright, very easy to see. Its menus make sense and are a snap to navigate on the go. Audio quality is good and you now have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality in addition to Bluetooth and USB connectivity.

In our week with the 2017 Ford Escape SE we appreciated its versatility and power from its optioned engine. The EPA rates it at 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined with us achieving that 25 mpg combined in our time with it.

Aside some less than perfect interior fit and a harsh demeanor off the pavement, we can see why the Escape is one of the top selling crossover SUVs in its class, and the top selling non pickup-truck Ford.