The 2017 Ford Escape offers two new EcoBoost engines and three trims. Photo by Ford

Escape plan

New engines revitalize compact Ford SUV

Change has come to the Ford Escape for 2017. There are subtle makeovers to the exterior of the compact sport-utility vehicle that include a grille reminiscent of the larger Explorer. The interior driver’s compartment is freshened. The power plants have been modified.

Last things first. There are three engines on the Escape this year, two of which are new. The only holdover is a 168-horsepower, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. We drove the 179-hp, 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder and there is a peppier 245-hp, 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder.

Escapes come in three trims — S, SE and Titanium. All come with front-wheel drive and the latter two also can be had with all-wheel drive. Prices start at $24,495 for the S. We drove the high-end Titanium with front-wheel drive.

Our test engine was the 1.5-liter turbo. While not overtly quick off the line with 177 lbs.-ft. of torque, the Escape does what it needs to do through the higher gears of the 6-speed automatic. Paddle shifters allow for even more driver control. Where this vehicle shines is in its handling, which is as sporty as you can get in a sport-utility.

Inside, the center console and up through the dash has been redesigned. There are places to store and charge devices. The new Sync Connect app allows the operator to control such items as remote start, heating or calling the vehicle in advance or checking various engine compartment levels. The 8-inch Sync touchscreen also incorporated the optional navigation system and rearview camera monitor.

Four adults will fit suitably and a fifth can squeeze between the back-seat riders. Front seats are a bit firm, extending that sporty handling feel to the cockpit. There is a good amount of headroom, even with the optional panoramic sunroof that we sampled.

Cargo space is plentiful with 34.3 cubic feet behind the second row of seats. With those seats folded flat, the cargo area opens up to 67.8 cubic feet, which is accessed through a power rear liftgate.

Other options on our review vehicle were the new Titanium Technology Package that included park assist and lane-departure warning systems, and adaptive cruise control.

Fully loaded, the 2017 Ford Escape can reach the mid-$30,000 range. When it comes to the abundance of features, there is value in the price.

David Mikesell is a free-lance automotive reviewer based in Indianapolis.

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