2014 Ford Escape SE FWD
Ford’s Escape is a pleasant compact sport-ute with quick handling and edgy stylish looks.
The tested metallic blue SE is the mid-level model, with the S being the base and the Titanium being the high-end model that I’d previously tested.
Starting price is $25,550 for the SE and it features one of Ford’s efficient EcoBoost engines, a 1.6-liter that’s turbocharged and has direct injection to give it 178 horses and a torque rating of 184. That’s a jump up from the base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that’s in the base S model and generates 168 horses and a torque rating of 170.
This engine is fairly strong, offering mild acceleration through the 6-speed automatic with SelectShift that allows you to manually shift the gears if you want. Yet because it has a turbo, if you slap the accelerator to get onto a highway the tranny downshifts and the turbo kicks in to boost it to highway speeds relatively quickly. There’s some engine noise, naturally, but it’s short-lived.
Gas mileage is modest. I got 22.1 mpg in cold and somewhat snowy weather, while the EPA rates this model at 23 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. I got just 20.5 mpg with the horsier 2.0-liter turbo in the Titanium model previously.
What sets the Escape apart is its quick handling that makes this small ute fun to drive and an easy lane changer on the highway. Parking lot maneuvering is good too, although its turning radius is a full 4 feet more than a Subaru Forester, another worthy small SUV. Continue reading 2014 Ford Escape SE→
Good-looking crossover/SUV loaded with tech goodies
There are a lot of mid-size SUVs (crossovers) to choose from and now Hyundai has gone and redesigned its Santa Fe, to help complicate your choices.
First, it’s a good-looking reskin with an edgier look and Hyundai continues to refine its vehicles to make them more upscale to fill the demands of the U.S. marketplace. So this white test ute was awash in technical doodads and electronic wizardry, sadly pushing it toward the upper end of what many folks would expect to pay for a useful mid-size ute. The Santa Fe Sport with all-wheel-drive and Hyundai’s 2.0-liter I4 with a turbo lists at $29,450. That’s still in the ballpark. But this one ladled on two pricy premium and technology packages to push the tester up to $35,925. That’s $36 grand in my book.
When I drove a GMC Terrain a couple years back I was impressed by its fit, finish and good value in the small sport-ute or crossover market. Not much has changed in a couple years and mostly that’s good.
Terrain slots in above the many smaller SUVs and crossovers, but isn’t big enough to be a 7-person hauler. Yet there is ample room inside for five adults and their luggage. Plus, in its nine trim levels the GMC comes with a 182-horse 2.4-liter Ecotec 4-cylinder engine that is rated 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. That creates a fine economy hauler for folks who prefer a taller vehicle to a standard mid-size sedan. Continue reading 2012 GMC Terrain→