The ST-Line is as good as it gets.
The Ford Escape was recently updated for MY2023 and, aside from a fresh new face and improved technology, the lineup has grown to accommodate the sporty-looking ST-Line. Despite the exterior embellishments, it's no faster than a regular model. We had hoped for a full-fat Escape ST to join the range, but it seems that won't be happening.
Michael Geany, the chief program engineer for the Escape, told Ford Authority that an ST model isn't something consumers necessarily want. "Again it's not a priority for this customer, we've already got all the styling in this [ST-Line] package and a pretty competitive 2.0-liter engine."
In 2020, a comment from a Ford Chief Engineer gave us hope that an Escape ST was on the horizon. "We do have an outstanding legacy and a really good foundation with the Focus ST... I think [an Escape ST] is a fantastic idea," said James Hughes.
It's a shame that the Escape won't gain a hotter ST derivative, as it would be the best next thing for Blue Oval enthusiasts who are still mourning the loss of the Fiesta ST and Focus ST. Those wanting a Ford family SUV with some sporting flair have no choice but to fork out $49,505 for the much larger Explorer ST.
Geany didn't elaborate further, but it's possible that an Escape ST would prove too costly. The range-topping ST-Line Elite already retails for $38,460, so we'd have to assume a full-blown performance derivative would be priced closer to $45,000. At this price point, the hypothetical Ford would encroach on the premium territory.
There's clearly a market for mainstream-badged performance SUVs abroad. In Europe and several other regions, Volkswagen offers the Tiguan R. Equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, the fiery family hauler can hit 62 mph in just 4.9 seconds, thanks to outputs of 315 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque.
As is the case with many desirable vehicles, America won't receive the Tiguan R. However, in an interview with VW's Hein Schafer, CarBuzz learned that a performance-oriented Tiguan will arrive in the States. "Whether that will be like an R that's 100-150 horsepower more than the standard derivative remains to be seen, but we are working on something with a bit more oomph in the Tiguan," he added.
Perhaps that will spur Ford into action, and an Escape ST may come to fruition after all. We wouldn't wait for it to arrive, though. The ST-Line appears to be as good as it gets and, when equipped with the 250 hp motor, it's sprightly enough for most needs.