2021 Ford Escape

2021 Ford Escape Review: A Bold New Look

After struggling to keep up with the competition for far too long, the Ford Escape finally underwent a complete overhaul for 2020. Complete might be a bit misleading, though. It still gets a turbocharged three-cylinder engine as standard, although with slightly higher outputs of 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque. The turbo-four-pot also received minor improvements, but it's the addition of the hybrid options that will most likely excite, although we review those variants separately. With a bold design, both inside and out, as well as a long list of standard features across the range, the Escape is ready to take on the likes of the Honda CR-V and Hyundai Tucson. Now it's been further improved for 2021. You can pick it up just as cheaply for $24,885 in the USA, or spring for one of the pricier hybrid models and potentially save more in the long run.

2021 Ford Escape Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 Ford Escape?

The Ford Escape was completely redesigned for the 2020 model year and received a much smarter design while growing slightly in size. For the 2021 model, the hybrid powertrain becomes available for the SE and SEL models too. We review the hybrid Escape range separately. For the rest of the models covered here, several of the options packages have been revised, with extra features added to the CoPilot360, Technology, and Convenience packages. A new style of 19-inch alloy wheel is now available on the Titanium model and all models optioned with the 2.0-liter turbocharged gas engine get an available Class II Trailer Tow package. There have also been a few changes to the available exterior paint colors.

Pros and Cons

  • Powerful turbo-four engine
  • Athletic handling
  • Ford Co-Pilot360 safety suite standard
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Capacious trunk
  • Disappointing in-line three-cylinder
  • Inconsistent interior quality

Best Deals on Escape

2021 Ford Escape Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
S
1.5L Turbo Inline-3 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$25,555
SE
1.5L Turbo Inline-3 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$27,035
SE Hybrid
2.5L Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$28,030
SEL
1.5L Turbo Inline-3 Gas
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$29,505
SEL Hybrid
2.5L Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$30,500

2021 Ford Escape Exterior

The curvaceous 2021 Ford Escape still has its bold diamond-mesh grille, with chrome around the grille and upper windows on the SE upwards. The side profile features pronounced concave curves, which gives the SUV a wide-hipped appearance, reminiscent of the Mazda CX-5. Automatic halogen headlights come standard, along with 17-inch wheels. The upper trims get access to 18- or 19-inch alloys, LED headlights, and LED fog lights. The standard manual liftgate is upgraded to a hands-free power liftgate from the SEL upwards.

2021 Ford Escape Front Angle View Ford
2021 Ford Escape Side View Driving Ford
2021 Ford Escape View Out Back Ford
See All 2021 Ford Escape Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The Ford Escape's dimensions allow it to fit snugly into the compact segment. It has a length of 180.5 inches and a 106.7-inch wheelbase. It stands 66.1 inches tall without its roof rack. Fold in the side mirrors and the SUV can squeeze into a parking space 78.7 inches wide. And, while it may have grown in size, the base model S weighs in at slim 3,298 lbs. The heaviest model maxes out at 3,566 lbs with the bigger 2.0-liter engine and AWD equipped. Ground clearance is 7.8 inches.

  • Length 180.5 in
  • Wheelbase 106.7 in
  • Height 66.1 in
  • Max Width 74.1 in
  • Front Width 62.4 in
  • Rear Width 61.8 in
  • Curb Weight 3,298.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

The new Escape makes do with a relatively unimpressive palette of body paints. The base S model gets access to the majority of the options, including all the standard no-cost colors. These include Agate Black, Oxford White, Velocity Blue, Desert Gold, Iconic Silver, Bronze Fire, Antimatter Blue, and Carbonized Gray. The latter four are new for 2021, while Ingot Silver, Dark Persian Green, Blue Metallic, and Magnetic have disappeared from the palette. Choose anything but the S, and you can opt for the premium colors, which comprise Star White at $595 and Rapid Red for $395. The Titanium cannot be had in Oxford White.

  • Rapid Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat
  • Star White Metallic Tri-Coat
  • Bronze Fire Metallic
  • Agate Black Metallic
  • Velocity Blue Metallic
  • Oxford White
  • Desert Gold Metallic
  • Antimatter Blue Metallic
  • Iconic Silver Metallic
  • Carbonized Gray Metallic
  • Agate Black

Escape Performance

The three-cylinder engine struggles to move the Escape, despite the loss of a few pounds over the previous-generation car. According to independent testers, the base 181-horsepower engine takes a modest 7.7 seconds to get the SUV up to just 60 mph. While not the kind of quickness you'll get from a hot hatch, this is still significantly faster than the previous Escape.

If you want a lot more fun, though, there is the available turbo-four engine on the SEL and Titanium trims. With 250 hp and 280 lb-ft on tap, these trims are able to make the 0-60 mph sprint in a far more impressive 5.7 seconds, according to the same testers. Faster throttle responses and a more refined driving experience are big selling points for the new Escape, which help it to compete with the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, which handily trounced the previous generation.

2021 Ford Escape Front View Driving Ford
2021 Ford Escape Rear View Driving Ford
2021 Ford Escape Charge Port Ford

Engine and Transmission

Two powertrains are available to the 2021 Ford Escape. The lower-tier S, SE, and SEL get a 1.5-liter turbo-three-cylinder engine as standard, mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox to develop 181 hp and 190 lb-ft, directed to your choice of the front or all four wheels. This base engine fails to impress. It gets the SUV moving, perhaps a bit better than the heavier, previous-generation Escape, but passing on the highway is still a chore, though.

The other available combustion engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox that comes with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. This powertrain, for either the SEL or Titanium, develops 250 hp and 280 lb-ft for all four wheels only. A far more compelling driving experience is delivered by this powertrain, with more potent acceleration and far better passing power on the highway.

  • Engines
    1.5L Turbo Inline-3 Gas, 2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas, 2.5L Inline-4 Hybrid, 2.5L Inline-4 Plug-in Hybrid
  • Transmissions
    8-Speed Automatic, Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The Escape has never been a show-stopper on the road, with not enough punch from the base engine to have fun, and not enough handling to properly enjoy the more powerful four-cylinder powertrain. However, the lighter 2020 redesign finally turned that reputation on its head. The new-generation SUV has enough power on tap to give it that extra kick in the pants it really needs. Throttle responses aren't overly eager, but there is a sense of playfulness there, especially when you opt for the turbocharged four-pot.

With sub-six-second acceleration times, the Escape is able to deliver on the promise its svelte, aerodynamic design makes. The excellent handling dynamics are a revelation in comparison to Escapes of yore and this means you can actually enjoy what the Ford is offering. Naturally, you'd expect this to come at the expense of ride comfort, but the Escape does a good job of mitigating most road conditions, even when outfitted with the large 19-inch alloys.

Five drive modes allow you to customize your experience to suit your mood, with Sport delivering the most feedback from the wheels and quicker throttle responses, while Normal or Eco take a more mindful approach to cut down your fuel bill or emphasize safer driving.

Escape Gas Mileage

With access to two powertrains and either front- or all-wheel-drive, the Ford Escape's mpg figures depend on the spec you choose. The standard three-cylinder engine gets an EPA-estimated 28/34/30 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles when set up in front-wheel-drive. The all-wheel drivetrain sees these figures drop across the board to 26/31/28 mpg. The other available combustion engine is the turbocharged four-cylinder, which comes standard with all-wheel-drive. This powertrain is a bit thirstier, getting only 23/31/26 mpg. The three-cylinder engine with front-wheel drive comes paired to a 14.8-gallon fuel tank, while all AWD models get a 15.7-gallon tank. In its most optimized configuration, the FWD three-cylinder Escape can travel up to 500 miles on the highway before needing to refuel. Overall, the Ford Escape's gas mileage figures are definitely manageable.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    14.8 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 27/33 mpg
* 2021 Ford Escape SE FWD

2021 Ford Escape SUV Interior

Much like the exterior, the Ford Escape's interior was completely overhauled in 2020. It is far more modern now, with design elements that seem to have been inherited from the popular Ford Edge. Extra driver-assistance features come standard, along with a driver-information display and a SYNC infotainment interface - SYNC 3 on the upper trims. The controls are easy to access and operate, although the hard plastic or padded vinyl don't do much to make it feel very upscale. There's plenty of space, though, both for passengers and cargo, and the sliding and folding rear seats make it easy to maximize either.

2021 Ford Escape Dashboard Ford
2021 Ford Escape Gearbox Controls Ford
2021 Ford Escape Central Control Panel Ford
See All 2021 Ford Escape Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The Ford Escape is able to seat five in comfort. The SUV supplies ample head- and legroom regardless of where you're sitting. Front passengers will have nothing to complain about, with more than 40 inches of head- and legroom, while those in the back lose only a smidge of each. However, the hybrid models can't be quite as generous, as the under-seat battery steals a few inches of legroom. Still, most adults should fit without a fuss. The standard model gets a six-way manual driver's seat, while upgrading to the SEL or above replaces this with a ten-way power seat and heating for both front seats. Getting in and out of the SUV is a simple task thanks to its ample step-in height and wide-opening doors. It also offers excellent visibility from the driving position.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 42.4 in
  • Front Head Room 40.0 in
  • Rear Leg Room 40.7 in
  • Rear Head Room 39.3 in

Interior Colors and Materials

While the materials used throughout the cabin may not be the most premium, they are durable and well-sourced. The overall build quality is good, too, making the Escape a hardy family SUV. The S and SE trims both come standard with cloth upholstery. On the base model, only Dark Earth Gray is offered, but the SE gets access to Sandstone, too. The SEL gets the ActiveX upholstery as standard, while Titanium's Active X upholstery is perforated. Titanium also gets access to optional genuine leather upholstery, available only in Ebony. Overall, the cabin is well-built but a quick glance around shows plenty of shiny, hard plastic on display. It's just a pity the designers didn't show the same amount of attention they did with the seats.

2021 Ford Escape Trunk and Cargo Space

The Ford Escape's cargo space has always been pretty generous. The 2021 model boasts a trunk with up to 37.5 cubic feet of space on offer behind the rear seats when they are slid all the way forward. With them all the way back, 33.5 cu-ft is on offer. The SUV supplies enough room for just about any day-to-day task, be it grocery shopping for the week or carting the kids between school and their extracurriculars. If you need even more space, the rear seats can be folded down in a 60/40 split to free up 65.4 cubic feet with a flat cargo floor for storing larger items.

There's a fair amount of small-item storage around the family-centric cabin. A total of six cupholders are spread out for ease of access, and there is even an overhead console. Naturally, there is a standard glove compartment, and the door pockets are large enough to store water bottles. The center armrest houses a modest storage cubby, and there are two media bins set within the center console.

2021 Ford Escape Rear Passenger Seats Ford
2021 Ford Escape Cup Holder Ford
2021 Ford Escape Maximum Cargo Space Ford

Escape Infotainment and Features

Features

While by no means a heavily accoutered SUV, the Ford Escape gets a pretty impressive standard offering. In its basic guise, the Escape comes outfitted with cloth upholstery, a six-way manual driver's seat, a manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, manual air conditioning, and remote keyless entry. It also gets a 4.2-inch driver information display, along with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, pre-collision warning, lane keep assist, pedestrian detection, and a rearview camera. Three 12-volt power outlets are spread throughout the cabin. The SE trim gets illuminated visor vanity mirrors, intelligent access with push-button start, upgraded cloth seats, and a map pocket on the passenger seatback. A ten-way power driver's seat and heated front seats are added to the SEL, its air con is upgraded to dual-zone automatic climate control, and it gets ActiveX upholstery, eight cup holders, a heated premium-wrapped steering wheel, one-touch up-and-down power windows all around, and hands-free power liftgate. A remote start system and reverse sensing system are added, too. Standard on the top-tier Titanium trim is a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, a wireless charging pad, ambient lighting, a universal garage-door opener, a six-way power passenger seat, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The safety suite is bolstered with adaptive cruise control, evasive steering assist, and front and rear parking aid. A head-up display is available as an optional add-on.

Infotainment

The infotainment suite on the S is a bit basic, with only a small 4.2-inch LCD display that supports AppLink, Bluetooth, FordPass Connect, and a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot. An AM/FM radio comes standard too, along with six speakers. A pair of USB ports supplement the power outlets to charge your devices. Stepping up to the SE sees the screen enlarged to eight inches, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are added to the features list. SiriusXM improves the standard listening options. Navigation is only added at the Titanium level, with voice-activated controls and SiriusXM Traffic. HD Radio is added, too, and the sound system is upgraded to a ten-speaker Bang & Olufsen set-up.

Ford Escape Common Problems and Reliability

J.D. Power rates the 2021 Ford Escape an uncompetitive 78 out of 100 overall and 72 for quality and reliability, the same as last year and significantly worse than the 2019 previous-generation model's scores of 82 and 86, respectively. There were six recalls in 2020 for issues ranging from rear drive units that seize to problems with the tire-pressure monitoring system, backup camera, and curtain airbags. So far, there have been no 2021 recalls. The Escape is covered by Ford's standard warranty plan, including a 36,000-mile/36-month bumper-to-bumper warranty and 60,000 miles/60 months of drivetrain coverage and roadside assistance.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles

Ford Escape Safety

The 2021 iteration of the popular Escape SUV gets a near-perfect five-star rating from the NHTSA. The IIHS is equally generous in its review of the Ford Escape, giving the Ford a score of Good in every category and awarding it the Top Safety Pick for both 2020 and 2021.

Ford Escape Key Safety Features

The Ford Escape gets all the standard mechanical safety features you'd expect on a modern family SUV, including ABS, stability and traction control, and an above-average seven airbags: dual front, driver knee, front side, and side curtain. Every model now comes with a pretty extensive list of standard safety features under the Ford Co-Pilot360 umbrella. These features include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, pre-collision avoidance, pedestrian detection, automatic high-beam assist, and a rearview camera. This is further upgraded with adaptive cruise control and evasive steering on the Titanium, and bolstered by Active Park Assist 2.0 with rear and front parking aid.

Verdict: 🏁Is the Ford Escape a Good SUV?

Ford's subcompact SUV may have struggled to stand out in the past, but that is certainly no longer the case since its 2020 overhaul. Thanks to a bold design, the Ford Escape turns heads rather than stomachs. The exterior is athletic, while the interior is modern and full of the latest technologies.

Ford Co-Pilot360 is standard on every trim, rivaling if not beating the value offered by its leading competitors like the Honda CR-V. Add to this an excellent infotainment suite on the upper trims, good material choices, and an overall spacious cabin, and Ford may have a real recipe for success. Notably, this isn't the SUV for you if towing capacity is something you prioritize.

If gas engines just aren't modern enough for you, the Escape comes in three available hybrid configurations, which we review separately.

🚘What's the Price of the 2021 Ford Escape?

With four trim levels and a variety of powertrain configurations, the Escape price tag can vary quite a bit, but it remains relatively affordable nonetheless. The most basic model is the S trim with the FWD powertrain, for sale at a starting price of $24,885 - or $26,385 with AWD. The SE will cost you $26,610 in its standard configuration, while adding all-wheel-drive ups the price by $1,500. Just below the top model, the SEL is priced at $29,205 with the standard engine, while upgrading to the four-cylinder engine and all-wheel-drive adds $3,300 to the bill. Coming standard with the powerful turbo-four-pot, the Titanium feels comfortable asking for a pretty hefty investment of $35,755. These prices exclude tax, registration, licensing, and Ford's $1,245 destination fee.

Ford Escape Models

Four models in multiple configurations make up the 2021 offering of the Ford Escape crossover lineup. The S, SE, and SEL come standard with the 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine, mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox in either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The SEL can equip the optional 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which only gets the all-wheel drivetrain - this is the only powertrain configuration offered on the Titanium.

The entry-level S rides on 17-inch steel wheels and comes equipped with automatic halogen headlights with automatic high-beam assist. It gets a comprehensive Ford Co-Pilot360 safety suite, with pre-collision avoidance, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-keep assist. It gets the smaller 4.2-inch driver information display, as well as a 4.2-inch LCD infotainment display with Applink, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, AM/FM Radio, a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, and a six-speaker sound system.

The SE gets 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome around the grille and upper windows, body-color door handles and mirrors, and upgrades the infotainment to an eight-inch SYNC 3 screen with SiriusXM. There are two additional power outlets, intelligent access with push-button start, rear privacy glass, a ten-way powered driver seat, and front-row seat heating.

Upgrading to the SEL trim brings 18-inch machined alloy wheels and heated exterior mirrors. SEL also comes standard with dual-zone climate control, eight cup holders, a heated premium-wrapped steering wheel, one-touch up-and-down power windows all around, remote start, and upgrades the cloth upholstery to ActiveX leatherette. Outside, the SUV gets a hands-free power liftgate, fog lights, and a reverse sensing system.

At the top of the range, the Titanium rides on larger 19-inch alloys and is outfitted with LED head- and fog lights and more chrome trim. It also gets four-way power adjustment for the front passenger seat, ambient lighting, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, a wireless charging pad, rain-sensing wipers, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. The safety suite is supplemented with front and rear parking aids, evasive steering assist, and adaptive cruise control, while the infotainment gets a ten-speaker B&O sound system, HD Radio, and navigation.

See All 2021 Ford Escape Trims and Specs

Ford Escape Additional Packages

With a pretty well-defined line-up of trims, there aren't all that many reasons or means to customize your Escape. Ford Co-Pilot360 is standard on all models and Co-Pilot360 Assist+ ($700) can be added to every trim aside from the base S and Titanium, adding voice-activated navigation, SiriusXM Traffic, evasive steering assist, lane centering, traffic-sign recognition, and adaptive cruise control - the last two features new in 2021 for this package. Most models can also add a panoramic vista roof for $1,495. The Titanium gets exclusive access to the Titanium Elite Package ($2,850), which comprises a head-up display, panoramic sunroof, skidplates, leather trim, and several other items. The $495 Class II Trailer Tow Package is only available with the 2.0-liter engine and allows the Escape to tow up to 3,500 pounds. Other extra-cost packages are available too, such as the SEL-only Technology Package ($1,050), which includes a ten-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, a wireless charging pad, a hands-free tailgate, and memory for the driver's seat and mirrors - the last two features new in 2021 for this package. The $985 Convenience Package includes dual-zone climate control, a power tailgate, a rear center armrest, LED exterior lighting, a ten-way powered driver's seat, and a keyless-entry keypad - the last three features new in 2021 for this package.

🚗What Ford Escape Model Should I Buy?

For the most part, the Ford Escape is quite well priced for even buyers on a budget. Naturally, those truly strapped for cash will want to get the S trim, and they won't be disappointed as it offers great practicality and a respectable list of standard safety features. If one of your primary factors is fun, though, you'll want the turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which means picking up an SEL or Titanium. Both are very well-appointed, but they sacrifice fuel economy. Both get the upgraded infotainment system, although only the Titanium gets the B&O sound system as standard.

Check out other Ford Escape Styles

2021 Ford Escape Comparisons

Ford Edge Ford
Honda CR-V CarBuzz
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Ford Escape181 hp27/33 mpg$25,555
Ford Edge 250 hp21/29 mpg$31,100
Honda CR-V 190 hp28/34 mpg$25,350

2021 Ford Escape vs Ford Edge

Unlike its smaller sibling, the Ford Edge is not a new car anymore. But it did receive a refresh in 2019, so it's not too outdated. That said, the Edge still feels pretty dated. The smaller SUV makes use of the same engines available to its big bro, but its lighter body and more athletic design mean that it can do more with the power on offer. When you add the three available hybrid options, the Escape just has so much more variety, although the Edge does get a V6-powered ST performance model. Naturally, the Edge has a bit more space inside, but thanks to its 2020 redesign, the Escape isn't that far behind when it comes to passenger space. It can even almost compete with the Edge's 39.2-cubic-foot trunk. With a lower price tag, better fuel economy, more modern standard features, and competitive cargo capacity, the Ford Escape just feels like the better choice. But if you really need the extra trunk space, there's no getting around the fact that the Edge has better ratings in terms of practicality.

See Ford Edge Review

2021 Ford Escape vs Honda CR-V

While it hasn't received a complete update like the Ford Escape, the Honda CR-V has always been the more modern of the two SUVs. This means that it doesn't feel that far behind the 2021 Escape. Its standard turbo three-cylinder is a tad stronger than the Ford's, with 190 hp and 179 lb-ft, but it doesn't get the option of a stronger powertrain, although the CR-V Hybrid is a match for the hybrid powertrains Ford has on offer. Inside, the Japanese SUV has more space, with an impressive 39.2 cubic feet of cargo capacity. It also feels more upscale, with higher quality materials and better construction. In terms of driver-assistance features, the two rivals are on par, and the same goes for infotainment. The Ford gets a better sound system, and both get a wireless charging pad on the top trim. While the choice between the two SUVs was always clear in the past, the new updates to the Escape make it a lot more about taste than actual empirical value.

See Honda CR-V Review

Ford Escape Popular Comparisons

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