Being in the market for quite some time now, the Ford Escape is a familiar sight with Malaysia road users, and thanks to the various marketing efforts by Ford including tie-ups with radio stations like hitz.fm it is also in mind.
I drove the Ford Escape 3.0 V6, the top of the range model that looks pretty much the same on the outside as the 2.3 litre version, except for a two-tone paint scheme that is exclusive to the 3.0 V6.
This Escape’s 3.0 litre V6 engine produces 206 PS at 6,000rpm and 276Nm of torque at 4,750rpm making this likely the most powerful SUV you can get for under RM200,000. It’s rather torquey with a typical V6 growl from the low the mid engine speeds, but tends to sound like it is loosing its breath at high revs unlike other V6 engines I’ve tried which happily bumps against the rev limit in every gear.
Highway cruising at 110km/h puts the engine revs at about 2,800rpm, and 80km/h puts it around the 2,000rpm mark. Driving this SUV around is quite relaxing when it comes to the throttle department – downshifts with the 4-speed auto are hardly necessary and you rarely have to go over the 3,500rpm mark because of the huge amount of torque available. From personal experience, this is not something that any of its competitors except maybe the 2.5 litre X-Trail can boast about.
The Ford Escape is built with a monocoque chassis and rides on a multilink suspension with MacPherson strut setup for both the front and rear. It is a SUV after all, and with the higher body and seating position comes a feeling of a relatively high center of gravity, so the body car does tend swing around if you do highway speed lane changes.
Driving around town, everything is dandy for the driver but during a test the rear passengers reported feeling uncomfortable because of the body sway especially in any sudden maneuvers, so you have to drive the Escape in a rather sedate way to keep all 5 people happy.
The interior has a spacious feel thanks to a beige interior, tall roof and an electric sunroof. The stereo is nothing special except for integrating a 6CD changer in the dash but it is of a standard 2-DIN size so there’s unrestrained room for your own improvements there.
The gear shifter is steering column-mounted – you have to pull it towards you a little and move it up or down, then let go. It is configured in the usual 4-speed P-R-N-D-2-L setup, with 3rd selectable in D with overdrive turned off. The overdrive button is on the head of the stalk and because the stalk is long, the button ends up rather far from the driver and this makes it a bit unnatural to reach it, so I suggest you just use the kickdown feature of the throttle if you want the Escape to stay in third.
There are two ways to access the boot at the rear – via opening the whole hatch which swings upwards or through the rear glass window which opens independently of the rear hatch.
Safety features include antilock brakes with ventilated discs at the front and drum brakes at the rear, and there are 4 airbags – front and side, which is the most airbags available in an SUV under RM200,000.
The 4WD system varies power between the front and rear wheels, but in normal situations it runs mostly on the front wheels, with power being split progressively to the rear wheels as the need arises, up to a 50:50 split.. There is a button on the dash which you can press to lock the 4WD system to the maximum 50:50 split.
Because this is a 3.0 litre vehicle, the 61 litre tank will give you between 300 to 350km of mileage – but you’ve got decent power on tap whenever you need it.