THE timing is perfect. Gather the troops, wrangle up the family pet, it’s now or never. It’s time for The Great Escape – the 2021 Ford Escape ST-Line, that is. Whether it’s a road trip to ‘Wally World’ or a beachside getaway, the Escape encourages you to just drive.
Queue up Lindsey Buckingham’s Holiday Road, and hit the road, with the ST-Line’s sporty body kit and the Escape’s curvaceous body, dressed in Rapid Red, ensuring that while you may not hear it coming, you’ll certainly get noticed, everywhere you go.
Once seated inside, it is very easy to forget that you aren’t in a high-end vehicle of a European flavour. The spacious cabin is practical and comfortable, adorned with technological features and a revamped look.
The front seats feel a little out of character though, with manual adjustment and cloth trim, despite their comfort levels. The SYNC 3 infotainment system is controlled by an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen that feels a little underdone too, in terms of size.
And while the standard 6-speaker sound system won’t see you as the go-to DJ for an impromptu car park rave, it gets pretty loud. The tech is good too, with DAB+ digital radio, satellite navigation, front and rear USB ports, and Bluetooth.
There’s a wireless phone charger, as well as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Applink too. The Ford comes equipped with an embedded modem for FordPass Connect, one of the many features to help you and your Escape communicate and bond.
The FordPass Connect package allows you to use your smartphone to find your car, lock and lock and unlock doors, do a fuel level check, and start the engine remotely to heat or cool the cabin to the last known setting.
A beautiful 12.3-inch digital cluster asserts its dominance over the driver, and the graphics and layout put many other brands to shame. Even better, the head-up display is still visible through polarised sunglasses.
If your idea of an ideal getaway is getting off the beaten track, then may we suggest the AWD version of the Escape. But for general duties in mum’s taxi or dad’s shuttle service, your passengers will be leaving 5-star reviews.
The 183kW 2.0-litre GTDI Ecoboost engine took us by surprise. It proves that the Escape is no slouch, and sits somewhere between zippy and wow, we feel. Ford have married up this little powerhouse with an 8-speed automatic gearbox and paddle shifts too.
The Escape is an absolute delight on road, the ride is smooth and comfortable, steering and handling is a breeze, although at times feels overly assisted. It’ll be a tonne of fun in multi-level shopping centre carparks.
If you’re feeling the need for speed, the Escape can move when she needs to, too. Hold onto the leather flat bottomed steering wheel and put your foot down, but be warned, after a moment’s delay, the 387Nm can really test the grip of the factory Continentals.
Acceleration during normal driving can seem a little jittery at times, with the Ford Escape ST-Line feeling less like a mid-sized SUV and more like a hatch. It has a combined fuel economy of 8.6-litres/100km (claimed). We managed 9.9-litres.
There are five different drive modes to choose from, including Normal, Eco, Sport, Snow/Sand and Trail. Interestingly, we found the difference between Normal and Sport to be minimal.
Ford have included other technological wizardry in the Escape too, including ambient LED lighting, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition, cross-traffic alert, and tyre pressure monitoring.
There’s also driver impairment monitoring, hill launch assist and traffic jam assist as standard. You also get front and rear parking sensors and a decent reversing camera, but there’s no 360-degree surround view available.
There’s an abundance of room though. Having the front row seating all the way back still offers plenty of leg room for vertically blessed second row passengers, even with baby or child seats. The little people couldn’t even kick the back of the seats.
And on the topic of back seat day care, we found the inclusion of centrally located cup holders in the back to be super beneficial, and an easier option for little hands to reach.
Second row seating is adjustable too, and depending on your Tetris skills, three child seats can be used quite effectively. A handsfree tailgate gives you access to the large 556-litre rear boot space, which can be further increased to 1,478-litres.
You will of course have to lower the seats and do something with the kidlets.
Its clear Ford has prioritised space and convenience throughout, with even the conventional shifter replaced by an electronic one, providing a less cluttered console.
Given the overall structural design, head room is superb, which in turn assists with the transportation of larger cargo and makes the installation and removal of child seats all that more convenient.
A 5-star ANCAP rating should satisfy any safety concerns you may have too. Both inside and out, the Escape is a quiet achiever, with little to no cabin noise and an exhaust note that is virtually non-existent.
The 2021 Ford Escape ST-Line (2WD) is one of six different specifications, which comprises AWD and front-wheel drive versions. Our ST-Line hit the road at $38,490 drive away, which is great value for this price point.
Its eye catching from any angle, and in any colour. The range includes Frozen White, Agate Black, Magnetic, Solar Silver, White Platinum, Blazer Blue, Rapid Red (as tested) and Blue Metallic.
Interior wise, Ford have four different offerings based on the model of Escape you choose, including cloth, cloth with unique ST-Line stitching, partial leather and leather accented (as found in the Escape Vignale).
Ford offers a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty and $299 servicing per standard A or B scheduled service for up to 4 years/60,000km. Daily drive, weekend expeditions, or offspring transporter; you can ‘Go Further’ with the 2021 Ford Escape ST-Line.
Our test vehicle was provided by Ford Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Ford Escape ST-Line, contact your local Ford dealership. Pictures courtesy of J_Hui Design/Photography.