|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
The use of the term “base” is loose given you still have to cough up P 1,490,000 for one. It sits on the higher-end of the 2WD crossover segment, beaten only the ridiculously priced Toyota RAV4. And as the more affordable model in the Escape line, the 1.6 SE sheds more than just the Titanium badge on the hatch.
For starters, it looks plainer from the outside. No longer would you like to lick those wheels clean because the drool-worthy 19-inch alloys are gone and replacing them are more pedestrian-looking 17-inch rollers. The high-sheen black trim on the front bumpers are gone too, swapped to matte ones with a honeycomb pattern. The signal indicators on the mirrors are gone as well and so are the roof rails. And at night, the telltale yellowish huge of halogen headlamps replaces the bluish ones of the adaptive HID headlamps of the 2.0 Titanium. And along with the headlight swap, the DRLs are gone too.
As you read this, the amount of exterior stuff removed from the 1.6 SE may elicit a violent reaction. But keep the pitchforks for now. All in all, the Escape still manages to look nice and you have to thank good genes for that one (Ford DNA, baby). Ford’s been digging deep into the Kinetic Design thing for years and it still works. It’s less pretty than the 2.0 Titanium for sure, but pretty nonetheless even in this plain shade of Oxford White.
Inside is where you see more notable changes. While Ford threw an interior designer’s party in the 2.0 Titanium, inviting everyone but faux wood trim, the 1.6 SE keeps the guest list small with leather and piano black accents not even making the cut. And you know what? It’s all for the better. The cabin is much more straight-forward and much friendlier to use. Ford probably wanted to give these two variants their own distinct personalities, and it worked; only it’s the lesser variant that comes out on top. Yes, for all the 2.0 Titanium’s pizzazz, there were some rather unfortunate design flaws which aren’t present in the 1.6 SE. Gone is the tendency for the high-gloss dash elements to get reflected back into your face and gone is MyFord Touch. The rows upon rows of buttons on the center console may look confusing at a glance, but it’s way easier to use by tactile feel compared to a touchscreen with equally small buttons.
Getting the driving position is fairly easy (powered driver’ seat), but the most comfortable one is a bit low in comparison to other crossovers. And as easy-to use as it is, the 1.6 SE still has its flaws. For one, getting in requires you to press the fob (no passive keyless entry) though curiously, it’s got a push-button engine start/stop. Next, the SYNC-equipped infotainment system’s screen is alright in displaying audio tracks and phone book entries, but the reverse camera’s decisively low-res. At night, it’s actually hard to see parking lines. And once or twice, you’ll wish that at least the steering wheel had leather on it because the absence of which reiterates you settled for the base model. Oh, and the driver’s window doesn’t even offer a one-touch up operation.
On the driving front, not much separates the two Escape models. Although the 2.0 Titanium does benefit from Ford’s transparent Intelligent AWD, the 1.6 SE’s good enough, especially if you’re just an urban dweller. During more relaxed driving such as crawling on EDSA or cruising along expressways, the 1.6 SE has a plusher ride probably because of the generous sidewalls of the tires (235/55R17s). Interestingly enough, the handling characteristics are severely affected by the tire’s PSI. Running at 32 PSI—the typical Pinoy default without checking the owner’s manual—returns a very sloppy experience. The steering becomes nervous, affected by a slight provocation of the throttle. More than once, you feel like the front-end giving up traction even if you’re just negotiating the Ortigas Flyover. It’s that bad. Adjust that to the recommended 36 PSI though and the difference is huge. What was once sloppy has become spot on. The steering is considerably lighter in effort than the 2.0-liter creating a feel of instability at higher speed, but the trade off is a much better ride. In fact, a reminder to would-be Escape wonders: keep those tires at the right tire pressure. Not only will it handle better, the ride will actually be better as well.
The 1.6 SE gives up some 62 horsepower from the 2.0 Titanium (178 horsepower at 5,700 rpm versus 240 horsepower at 5,500 rpm), but the difference is largely unfelt in city traffic. At urban speeds, there’s enough pull from the engine to keep things exciting and the 6-speed automatic plays along producing nice, smooth shifts. It’s only when you push it where you’ll feel the lack of oomph. It takes a split-second for the turbo to spool so it’s like: nothing, nothing, and then, boom—your license just got revoked. It’s the innate nature of a forced-induction engine, but the smaller displacement EcoBoost clearly reaches its limit past 4,500 rpm. Thankfully, the gearbox is a willing player and will downshift quickly at the slightest provocation of your right foot. And the engine is smooth too with a hint of the turbo whine. Without a transfer case to speak of and the smaller displacement, you’d expect considerably less thrist. Sadly, this Escape does around 5.81 km/L in the city and 16.67 km/L on the highway (8.40 km/L mixed) figures which aren’t too off to the 2.0 Titanium.
Handling-wise, you largely won’t miss the AWD system, but you do still have to be careful in digging the accelerator mid-corner. Aside from the abnormally light steering, if you catch yourself off-guard and gun it at the wrong moment, the front tires will dig and the stability control engage. This nannies the driving fun, but it’s much better than battling torque steer. It feels quick to bite into corners but turns into understeer midway. Brakes are confident too, stopping the Escape well. Visibility is good, although the two-in-one side mirrors do take some getting used to. But after some adjustment, they’re actually better than relying simply on the Blind Spot Indicators (although parking in tighter spaces can still be a pain).
Going back to the original question of value, the Ford Escape 1.6 SE comes in at P 300,000 cheaper than the range-topping 2.0 Titanium. But which one comes out as better value for money? Well, doing a bit of car manufacturer math, the larger engine, AWD drivetrain, leather seats, and sunroof should pretty much add up to P 300,000 already. And you’re just beginning to scratch the 2.0 Titanium’s kit: it’s got a moon roof, ambient interior lighting, front and rear parking sensors, HID headlamps, active park assist, rain-sensing wipers—the list goes on and on. It’s clear the 2.0 Titanium deserves the lion’s share of attention, because of its list of tech, but don’t just discount the 1.6 SE. If the P 300,000 difference is hard to swallow, the base Escape still rides on a solid foundation and delivers commendable performance, especially in the urban setting. That and you don’t have to live with MyFord Touch.
2015 Ford Escape 1.6 SE
|Ownership||2015 Ford Escape 1.6 SE EcoBoost 2WD|
|Vehicle Classification||Compact Crossover|
|Body Type||5-door crossover|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Aspiration||Turbocharged, Direct Injection|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||I4|
|BHP @ rpm||178 @ 5,700|
|Nm @ rpm||249 @ 2,500|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 93~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,594|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Independent, Multi-Link|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Tires||Continental ContiProContact 235/55 R 17 H (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Parking Sensors||No, Rear Camera|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt/Telescopic|
|Steering Wheel Material||Urethane|
|Seating Adjustment||Electric (driver)|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Climate Control||Yes, Dual Zone, with Rear Vents|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|