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Don't believe the advertisements, or the exciting Shawn Mendes backing track. The people buying crossovers, especially ones like the Ford Escape, aren't really going off-road. (It's still a fun ad, Ford).
That means city driving is among the most important – if not the most important – considerations for buyers. Here's how the Ford Escape ST-Line stacks up in the urban jungle.
First up, power. The Escape is up there with the Equinox and Tiguan 162TSI as one of the most powerful members of the mid-sized SUV class, thanks to its 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder (EcoBoost in Ford parlance) engine making 178kW and 345Nm.
It's mated to a six-speed torque converter auto as standard, putting power to the road through all four wheels.
There's a bit of low-down lag as the turbocharger spools up, but peak torque is available when the tach’ swings past 2100rpm and sticks around until 4500rpm, making the Escape more than quick enough to survive the cut-and-thrust of traffic.
Sitting 10mm lower than the regular Escape, there's more going on than just a set of lower springs.
Our Escape also has stiffer anti-roll bars than the 'regular' model and a quicker steering rack, both designed to put paid to the ST-Line badge sitting on its flanks.
In a world dominated by slightly cynical, pseudo-sporty crossovers (M Sport, AMG Line, S Line... You get the idea), it's easy to feel jaded about what the ST-Line represents. Put your prejudices aside, though, and there's enjoyment to be found in the ST-Line package.
The steering is a bit heavier than you might expect from a city-centric crossover, and definitely feels more direct off-centre (and keener to re-centre) than the Holden Equinox's rack, but it's still light enough to make low-speed manoeuvring easy, even if you've linguine arms like mine.
All of the Escape's active safety technology works as advertised in the city.
Blind-spot monitoring relies on small orange lights in the mirrors (good), the rear cross-traffic alert appears capable of seeing around corners (good), and the autonomous emergency braking... Actually, that hasn't been required just yet, which is also a good thing.
Oh, and the hands-free reverse park assistant is excellent. I back myself to get the job down with hands on (what man or motoring journalist would admit otherwise), but being able to let the car take care of things is a nice party trick.
Because it's slightly smaller than many of its rivals, the Escape will squeeze into tighter spaces, and generally feels more wieldy among traffic.
Where some SUVs feel too big for my unit's underground carpark, the Ford feels like a hatchback on stilts. That's going to endear it to space-starved inner-city dwellers, along with elderly buyers who might not want to pilot a giant hunk of metal.
Visibility is good out the front, decent out the back, and typically poor over the shoulder. Big pillars might be good for crash safety, but they make it tricky to merge and see what's coming when you're joining already flowing traffic.
Auto start/stop cuts in promptly and the engine restarts smoothly, which isn't always a given with such systems, and the button to turn it off is within arm's reach when you're stuck in that awkward stop/crawl/start traffic.
While we're talking fuel-saving tech, it's worth mentioning the Escape's in-town fuel economy isn't great. The best we've seen is mid-nines, the worst around 11.5L/100km. That's the trade-off for having decent punch underfoot...
Ford Escape ST-Line
- Odometer: 4567km
- Average fuel economy: 11.1L/100km
- Kilometres since last update: 1455km