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Labeling the Ford Escape an energetic sport utility vehicle with some very pleasing performance may come as a surprise to many.

The Escape went through a redesign in 2013 that made it a much improved compact crossover SUV. One of the reasons for the improvement was the emergence of an energetic turbocharged engine.

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The turbocharged 2.0 engine that was test driven here had quite a bit of pep. This four-cylinder produces 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, and travels 0-60 mph in 7.0 seconds, making it one of the quickest compact crossovers in its price range.

2016 Ford Escape

  • Performance: 2.5-liter, four-cylinder 168 horsepower; 1.6-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder, 178 horsepower; 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder, 240 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate range: 22-32 mpg
  • Estimated price: $23,590 to $31,745
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; corrosion 5 years/unlimited; roadside assistance 5 years/60,000

The versatile turbocharged Escape can haul four children to soccer practice, is wonderful for a trip to the grocery store, yet can also power its way up a mountainous road with no loss of power.

The 2016 Escape has a choice of three four-cylinder engines and offers all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive. The base model features a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder with 168 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. The other option is a turbocharged 1.6-liter, inline-4 that has 178 horsepower and generates 184 pound-feet of torque. It goes 0-60 in 8.7 seconds, which is quite a bit slower than the other turbocharged model.

A notable change occurs this year that will no doubt draw cheers from many frustrated Escape owners. Gone is the fussy MyFord Touch infotainment system. It’s been replaced by the Synch 3, a more simplified system that is quicker responding and more intuitive.

The Escape has a sleek look and isn’t nearly as boxy as older models. The interior has improved as well, ridding itself of many hard-plastic surfaces and replacing them with higher-quality material.

The seating in the Escape provides good padding and comfort, and the gauges are big and simple to read. The placement of the climate system – directly in front of the gear selector – is one of the few faults of the Escape interior makeup.

The Escape delivers accurate steering, a firm ride, and handles very well on curves. Smaller bumps don’t seem to be problematic and the Escape engine is fairly quiet unless the vehicle is laboring a bit on steep hills.

Although the Escape can get a little pricy in all but the base model, it’s still a good selection among a very crowded field of competitors, which includes the Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV-4, Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda CX-5, and a few others.

The Escape is one of the top-selling models in its class because it’s a refined compact SUV that meets the needs of many car buyers.

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