2017 Ford Escape
Nothing’s hotter than small crossovers right now. So Ford probably could have kept business as usual for their compact Escape and been just fine, as they sold over 300,000 of them in the U.S. last year. But that’s not how things work at Ford these days, or the auto industry in general; so for 2017, a freshened Escape drives into the scene.
Ford certainly gives you plenty of powertrain options.
Base S Escape’s come with a normally aspirated 168-horsepower 2.5-liter I4; in front-wheel-drive only. SE and Titanium trims comes with Ford’s 1.5-liter EcoBoost with 179-horsepower and all-wheel-drive is available.
Also optional, is this 2.0-liter EcoBoost which rates 245-horsepower and a stout 275 lb-ft. of torque. All engines work with a 6-speed automatic transmission; max towing is good for the compact class, at 3,500-lbs.
The 2.0-liter feels plenty peppy on the street with gearing clearly designed for acceleration. We actually got complaints of this being too much engine for this vehicle; highly unusual from our power-hungry crew. But that was mostly due to the overachieving stability system. It becomes very problematic when attempting a strong launch, finding the balance between too much control and too much wheelspin with it turned off. It feels faster than the 7.6-seconds it took us to hit 60; especially, as once the transmission hits 2nd and gets good traction it really takes off.
Shifts are very smooth; but even in Sport mode, a touch slow for our tastes. We finished out the ¼-mile in 16.0-seconds flat at 85 miles-per-hour.
Through our handling course, it was light and agile; comfortable and solid for a compact ute.
A 107-foot average for braking from 60 is quite good; but there’s a very artificial feel to the pedal, and some aggressive pulling to the side on initial braking, keeps the results from being perfect.
Speaking of stopping, the Escape adds a new standard stop/start system with all EcoBoost engines, and we found it to work quite smoothly.
Changes to the interior of the newest Escape consist mostly of a reconfigured center console, that swaps the big parking brake handle for an electronic switch, moving the shifter back for easier access to lower stack controls, and for plugging things into the USB port and power outlet. Wrapping the revisions up inside, is a new steering wheel with revised switchgear.
Seating is a “tale of two spaces” with abundant room and coziness for those in front, but marginal legroom and comfort for rear seat passengers.
Forward collision warning, as well as lane-keeping are available, but not autonomous braking.
The new Escape looks physically bigger, due to a taller grill and redesigned hood that also gives it a friendlier, less aggressive tone.
Not much else changes outside. A hands free power lift gate is optional; and behind it you’ll find a decent 34.0 cubic-ft. of cargo space, maxing out at 68.0 with the rear seatbacks folded.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for our front-wheel-drive 2.0-liter are 22-City, 29-Highway, and 25-Combined. Our average was almost right on at 24.5 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Escape pricing falls right in line with the rest of the segment, starting at $24,645; and reaching into the low 30s. All-wheel-drive costs $1,750 more.
With an all-new and terrific Honda CR-V, and better-selling-than-ever Nissan Rogue on the prowl, we applaud Ford for seeing that meaningful mid-cycle changes were critical for the 2017 Ford Escape’s success. It is now about as techno-savvy as the compact utility segment gets, and certainly a fine choice in the ever-more crowded crossover world.
- Engine: 2.0 liter
- Horsepower: 245
- Torque: 275 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 7.6 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 16.0 seconds @ 85 mph
- EPA: 22 mpg city / 29 mpg highway
2024 Mazda CX-90
A Force To Be Reckoned With
If you’ve been following Mazda lately, you’ll know they’ve been fielding some serious new designs; you could even say, they’re latest efforts are 10-times better than before. After all, the CX-3 became the CX-30, then CX-5 became the CX-50, and now it’s the CX-9’s turn. So, let’s find out if this all-new CX-90, their largest SUV yet, is a real multiplier or if it’s all just a numbers game.
Don’t think of this 2024 Mazda CX-90 so much as an updated version of the CX-9, as it’s more of a complete rethink of their 3-row crossover, the first built on an all-new, large vehicle platform for the brand. And this platform carries a host of surprises. Not only does it make the CX-90 bigger by every dimension, but it’s a rear-drive architecture, and features all-new powertrains, including the brand’s first plug-in hybrid, and even an inline-6 engine.
Why an inline-6 to replace the CX-9’s turbo-4? Well, in general terms, I6s are better balanced, run smoother, and can deliver more torque at lower RPM. Just ask the BMW faithful, or any of the truckers you see going down the road hauling more than 20-tons of cargo with their inline-6s.
There are 2-versions of the longitudinally mounted 6, both assisted by turbocharging and a 48-volt mild hybrid system. Output for the base Turbo is 280-horsepower and 332 lb-ft. of torque; this Turbo S cranks it up to 340-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. The PHEV, on the other hand, is based on a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter I4, working with a 100-kW electric motor to deliver 323-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. A 17.8-kWh battery delivers 26-miles of EV driving.
It’s not the prettiest SUV, but it does have very smooth body work; plus, the longer hood and 7½-inches of wheelbase stretch over the CX-9, give it more stately proportions. All CX-90s come with i-Activ all-wheel drive and the brand’s first 8-speed automatic transmission; the longer wheelbase allows tow ratings to step up from 3,500-lbs. to 5,000.
At the test track, our Turbo S launched effortlessly with good grip on the way to a 6.4-second 0-60. The smooth vibes continued throughout the ¼-mile, with refined power delivery, seamless shifts, and a noticeably more solid and stable feel at speed than the CX-9. Our best time was 14.7-seconds at 98 miles-per-hour.
Through the cones, it still behaves like a Mazda, with very good steering feel and a solid presence in corners at low to moderate speeds. Some understeer and body roll will show up when pushed hard, but Mazda’s Kinematic Posture Control uses subtle selective braking to help the vehicle rotate, and safety systems will step in well-before it gets out of sorts.
There’s a nice firm feel to the brake pedal, delivering good stopping results of 118-feet from 60 miles-per-hour. You can feel a lot of weight transfer, but nosedive was well contained.
Another unique element the CX-90 brings is seating arrangements for 6,7, or 8. It’s the 8-seater that’s standard with 3-across bench seating for 2nd and 3rd rows. 7-seaters get either captain’s chairs in the 2nd row, or more contoured seats for the 3rd; 6-seaters sport 2nd row captains and the contoured 3rd row. Cargo capacity varies with seating, but is at best 15.9 cubic-ft. behind the 3rd row, 40.1 behind the 2nd, and 75.2 with all seats folded.
As far as what it’s like to actually live with, the CX-90’s cabin is a clear step up, including on some trims suede-like materials, intricate stitching, and real wood, all consistent with what we’ve seen from the brand lately. A 10-inch dashtop touchscreen is standard for infotainment, with upper trims getting a larger 12.3-incher. We applaud Mazda’s inclusion of plenty of old-school manual controls for radio and climate, which keeps menu diving limited to secondary functions. PHEVs get a few unique controls and readouts to monitor drive modes and battery level.
Overall, the CX-90 is highly functional, entertainingly sporty to drive, and will be more competitive in the ever growing 3-row family crossover segment; and its posh interior may even attract luxury buyers on a budget.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the Turbo S are 23-City, 28-Highway, and 25-Combined. We averaged a good 26.5 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Pricing begins with the base Turbo at Select trim for $40,970, PHEVs are available in Preferred trim and above starting at $48,820, and the Turbo S starts at $53,125.
Force multiplier is a military term for when strategic elements come together to produce results greater than would have been possible without them. Well, no high-level math skills are necessary here to see that the 2024 Mazda CX-90 is clearly more than just a much better CX-9; it’s now a force to be reckoned with in the 3-row family crossover segment.
- Engine: 3.3-liter I-6
- Horsepower: 340
- 0-60 mph: 6.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 118 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 26.5 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 369 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 14.7-seconds at 98 mph
- EPA: 23 City / 28 Highway / 25 Combined
- Starting Price: $40,970