Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Review: 2015 Ford Escape 1.6 SE EcoBoost

Photos by Ulysses Ang
Undeniably, the Ford Escape is an impressive piece of kit. Regardless of what measurement you use, it’s got all the bells and whistles to satisfy even the most tech-savvy individual. Though the overall execution is somewhat mixed (read our Ford Escape 2.0 EcoBoost Titanium AWD review), there’s no denying that it’s pushing the value quotient way up to the stratosphere. But that story’s largely applicable to the top-line Titanium model. How does the Escape story apply to the “base” 1.6 SE variant? Read on.

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
Year Introduced 2015
Vehicle Classification Compact Crossover
The Basics
Body Type 5-door crossover
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.6
Aspiration Turbocharged, Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 178 @ 5,700
Nm @ rpm 249 @ 2,500
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 93~
Transmission 6 AT
Cruise Control Yes
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,524
Width (mm) 1,838
Height (mm) 1,684
Wheelbase (mm) 2,689
Curb Weight (kg) 1,594
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-Link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Continental ContiProContact 235/55 R 17 H (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 7
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors No, Rear Camera
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Front
Auto Lights Yes
Auto Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Urethane
Seating Adjustment Electric (driver)
Seating Surface Fabric
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes
Climate Control Yes, Dual Zone, with Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
No. of Speakers 6
Steering Wheel Controls Yes


  1. As usual, a great review! Hope you can do a review of the Jimny soon.

    1. will there be a new Jimny?

    2. I've been desperately waiting for a new Jimny. And more colors!

    3. The Jimny sucks. Why the hell do you guys want it? It has a tight interior, a gas guzzler, fugly jeep styling. The only thing it has going for it is the 4x4 and high ground clearance and that's it.

    4. Well it's definitely not for you then. All you asked are the things that the Jimny can't give you. Otherwise all of its shortcomings are noted and accepted by us.

  2. ^Yeah great review... I felt like driving it myself... I just hoped they lowered the price for the entry level to about 1.3M so I can afford it and best the competition... oh well Ford...

    PS. I wonder what the "re-sale value" peeps would say about this...

  3. I'm interested to buy the 1.6 SE only if the price will be on the level of the ASX.

    1. That probably won't happen since it's CBU from North America and the next lower model to the SE is the Escape S which is not sold here. It has a naturally aspirated 2.5 Duratec and steel wheels with covers. -AM

  4. Seems better than the 2.0 model because it doesn't have the "ergonomic nightmare"?

    Which is a better buy? This one or the entry level X-Trail?

    1. Entry-level X-Trail or Escape...this is a very interesting match-up.

      It entirely depends on what you're looking for in a compact crossover. I'd say the X-Trail wins out with its room, ride, fuel economy. However, the Escape counters that with performance and handling. So it entirely depends on which one you want.

      Consider the CX-5 and Forester as well while you're at it.

  5. uly was being nice. cmon tell us straight. you hate this car. right? i mean compared to all its similar priced competitors it has nothing to offer.

    1. No crossover out there is perfect and all of them have their own pros and cons. Ultimately, it's down to the person buying it to decide.

    2. The forester XT seems to be the perfect balance of performance and practicality... The only downside is there are no rear aircon vents.

    3. I actually want to try the Forester XT again. The last time I drove one was in 2013. I don't know if I just remember good things about it now, but it's great that they actually did a minor refresh of it. Maybe it's time to take it out for a spin again.

  6. I hope you'll have a review for the new Suzuki Celerio as soon as it is available in our market. Any idea when will it be available?

  7. LOL. 5.81 km/L for a 1.6L "Eco"Boost, 5.55 km/L for the 2.0L variant. Those are the deal-breakers right there. The CX-5 can easily double that mileage, and with no turbo lag at that. So everyone preaching that a small-displacement, force-inducted engine is the way to go for "Eco" credentials are all so badly wrong. Mazda has shown the correct way. SkyActive >>> "Eco" Boost.

  8. Damn, so I guess the Escape is a gas guzzler in the city. Better buy the Escape if majority of your driving route is on the highway. If not, better choose another option.

    1. EcoBoost should be renamed ThirstyBoost instead. It is clear that a naturally-aspirated 2.0L or 2.4/2.5L would have better fuel Eco than these small turbocharged engines. This turbo 1.6L EcoBoost would be a better fit for the Focus, Fiesta or EcoSport instead.

  9. Car Connection and U.S. News each made a comparison test between the Escape to the RAV4. The Escape was the clear winner in both comparos. I like both cars and I'd be happy to own either one. I just wonder why the RAV4 is so expensive?

    1. Because, young Padawan, the RAV4 is 100% CBU Japan and it doesn't qualify for JPEPA zero tariff which applies only to vehicles with 3.0L+ engine displacements.

      If you're looking at this segment, neither one you mentioned above is the best. Choose from either the CX-5 or Forester. The Forester XT IMHO is overkill, do you really need 240hp in a CUV? If the answer is yes, get the similarly-priced WRX instead.No one races in a tall SUV.

    2. No one in their right mind would subject themselves to crappy Philippine roads in a WRX low ground clearance. So yeah, forester is the practical choice if you want speed and moderate flood fording capability.

    3. That's fine until you rollover in your tall SUV or fall off the Skyway "racing" with your Forester XT.

  10. ^Maybe Eco Boost engine needs a longer break-in period... maybe fuel economy will improve eventually... maybe this wont sell much... maybe Ford will drop the price by 15% after 8 yrs... maybe we can have that Escape vs. X-Trail vs. CX-5 vs. Forester review now Mr. Uly?

    1. Bwahaha, too many maybes, even DJ James Deakin won't be that hopeful with his new Ford Escape 2.0L ThirstyBoost :P.

    2. Mr. Uly maybe the escape will trump the competition?... The multi-awarded Ecoboost engine is only the 1.0 and not the 1.6 right?

    3. Ford's 1.6 EcoBoost never won the Ward's 10 Best Engines. However, the 1.0-liter did and so did the 2.0-liter.

    4. LOL, another maybe. Accept the reality, there are crossovers better than this one in terms of engine and overall packaging.

  11. According to another poster ,two foreign sites said the Escape is better than the RAV4. Nabasa ko naman ang sinulat ni Aida Sevilla-Mendoza ng Inquirer tungkol sa Escape. She was all raves. Matrona na writer na ito pero wala syang problema sa MyTouch. So what gives Ulysses? Ford didn't wine and dine you enough? O hindi ba hinatid sa bahay mo ang Escape?

    1. I didn't say the Escape was better than the RAV4. I think that came from the other commenters here.

      As for wining and dining, I don't think any of us were wined and dined. They give you these test drives with a full tank of gas and that's it. And for the record, I actually get them either from a dealership or their office. I don't ask for princely treatment as you so implied.

      With regards to MyFord Touch, it was great system 2 or 3 years ago. Sadly, it has clearly lagged behind versus the competition. Now whether or not Aida was able to show the faults is up to her, but I tried to present a balanced take on the entire Escape experience.

      I don't think you can a franker review anywhere locally.

    2. Again, another comparison against the RAV4, as if those 2 are near the top of this category. Why is this fanboi limiting himself to these 2 choices?

    3. MyFord Touch is afllicted with the crApple syndrome, the stupid belief that everything would be better if it's given a touchscreen. As has been shown countless times, an interface that can be operated by tactile feel and without moving your eyes off the road is better, faster, safer and more reliable. Kids are so dumbed down nowadays they can't operate simple buttons, switches, levers and dials.

  12. Mr. Uly, considering reliability, fuel efficiency and maintenance cost, which of the following will you recommend as best value for money this Escape, the Subaru Forester 2.0iP, Tucson(diesel) or the Captiva(diesel)?

    1. Diesel ownership actually starts out ahead of their gasoline counterparts until you reach higher odometer readings. At that time, diesels will require more constant oil changes and/or PMS to ensure they'll be running smoothly. This is primarily because of our poor diesel quality.

      But since we're switching to Euro 4 soon, I don't know how that will affect the long-term ownership costs of cars like the Tucson or Captiva. The Captiva feels really, really old. Though it's still a surprisingly good crossover, it's showing its age. I'd say, you'll be better off with the all-new Tucson. I just hope Hyundai doesn't screw up with the pricing.

      Now, if you're after a gasoline crossover, the Escape isn't exactly the most bang-for-the-buck. As I mentioned in the review, although you save P300,000 over the 2.0 Titanium, the 1.6 SE isn't really good value because of all the stuff that's missing. That leaves you the Forester 2.0 i-Premium which remains a very good value crossover up to know. Maintenance cost-wise, it's relatively affordable until you reach the dreaded 40,000 km (and all other PMS in increments of 40,000 thereafter) because of all the fluid changes. This will cost something like P 25,000! And make sure you keep your car insured because collision parts like headlights are very expensive on a Subaru.

      If you really want the Subaru, consider looking at the Mazda CX-5 as well. For me, these two are the best crossovers out there. Of course, I'm slightly biased towards the Subaru because of its higher ground clearance and better water wading depth. But the Mazda is more fuel efficient and fun to drive.

    2. Thanks Uly for your valuable insights. For me the CX5 downside is the cabin space and seating comfort of the second row. My heart actually really goes with the Forester but I'm still convincing myself and of course the wife :=) that its really worth it. For the past 15 years I have been driving diesels (Hilux, Revo, Everest). This time I'm looking for a better, smoother ride and with ground clearance for floods and PH roads, which is I think is the CUV genre. So I guess I'm having the worries of shifting to gas and also maybe losing those extra seats of the 7 seaters. Maybe you can tell me more advantages of shifting to gas aside from the noise of the diesel.

  13. 5.8 km/L? So this means that the application of Ecoboost is horrible on the Escape? I own a 2010 Escape with the 2.3L engine, and the worst I ever got was I think 6.2 km/L. That's when I get stuck for hours in traffic. The highway rating though, is far higher than I ever got.

  14. Hi Uly.the ford escape is now just 1,058,000. Do u think its worth the price now?

    1. Well, it's a good toss up between this and the Forester then. The Forester can be had for a similar price. I'd still go for the Forester though.

    2. Am I reading and understanding this correctly Uly? The Forester can be had for a similar price as the Escape which is price at 1.058M?

    3. Yes you could get the Escape 1.6 and Forester 2.0 for around that price. But it's a run out for both. It's not permanent :-)

  15. Hi Uly ...the forester is 1.4 m did they reprice as well ?

  16. Hi Uly ...the forester is 1.4 m did they reprice as well ?

    1. The base 2.0 Forester is still priced at P 1.4M, but Subaru did drop the price considerably last June. There are still some units left that's heavily discounted. These are the pre-facelift models though.

  17. Hi Sir Uly. Is the 5.8km/l only applies in Metro Manila traffic which is like hours? Im living outside Manila and I would say the longest traffic I could encounter would be just for an hour. The rest I would be running 30-40 kph within the city. Will this make any difference at all in terms of fuel efficiency?
    I should be getting my escape this Tuesday, got a little disappointed with the unit after reading this review and comments.

    1. Running at a higher speed will certainly improve the fuel economy. The EcoBoost seems to prefer highway driving rather than city driving. That's a fact reiterated by numerous tests done both locally and abroad.

    2. Thank you Sir. Appreciate the advice and the review is certainly something worth reading and considering before buying the unit. Thanks again and God bless you.

  18. which is why I get this offer from a bank, with no interest rate, low monthly amortization. If I try to compute the total, it would not sum up to 1.49M, but 1.1+M. I am going to verify this at the bank first though.

  19. I have been observing the fuel efficiency of my ford escape 1.6 eco boost. In city driving, at constant speed range from 35-40 km/h the consumption as reflected in the display would be from 15-16 km/liter. But if the car will stop for quite sometime definitely the kilometer per reading would drop at most is 9 km/liter. In long driving (continuously) at the constant speed of 80 km/per the gasoline consumption can even reach up to 19-20 km/litter. But for a speed of 120 km/h, I observe that consumption is only about 14-15 km/litter. For me performance wise the gasoline consumption is acceptable. I have already experience to go racing in tplex with Fortuner and Montero and these vehicle is far far no match to the speed of Ford escape. At the speed of 160 km/hr i can still feel that the engine is still relax and can still accelerate smoothly. Ford Escape for me is good for racing. Fuel efficiency will always depend on the driving habbit and the situation and condition in the road.


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