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A year ago, Ford did the logical thing – redesigning the popular Escape, something that hadn’t been done since 2008. The result: a much improved sport utility vehicle.

Unlike some redesigns, this one was substantial. The first thing one noticed regarding the “new” Escape was the exterior: it definitely changed. This compact crossover SUV had a sleeker look and wasn’t nearly as boxy.

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Despite a more contoured appearance, the Escape has a 2.8 inch longer wheelbase and was 1.3 inches wider than previous models, providing more interior room.

Not much has changed with the 2014 Ford Escape. It remains a good small crossover that features athletic driving, solid cabin and some smart high-tech features. Additions this year are a rearview camera and Sync voice command electronics that are now standard.

2014 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: 22-33 mpg
  • Price: $23,100 to $30,850
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; corrosion 5 years/unlimited; roadside assistance 5 years/60,000

The Escape has some international flavor. It mirrors Ford Kuga, which is offered in Europe as a compact crossover. Both vehicles share the Ford Focus platform.

The Escape interior uses high-quality materials and no longer has much hard plastic. The backseat folds down easily, and there is a power liftgate and the MyFord Touch entertainment and communication system.

Last year Ford decided to incorporate two new turbo engines that have improved performance.

Ford calls all of its turbocharged engines EcoBoost. In reality, the EcoBoost is just a traditional turbocharged engine. The Escape has three trim levels (S, SE, Titanium) and only the S model isn’t turbocharged.

The Escape S features a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder with 168 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. The SE model comes with a turbocharged 1.6-liter, inline-4 that has 178 horsepower and produces 184 pound-feet of torque.

For drivers who really value performance, the Escape Titanium has a 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine with 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque.

Most people will probably opt for the Escape SE. While this model can be a bit lacking in some uphill situations, the passing power is solid and it’s also good from a starting position, and possesses a certain driver fun factor.

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 like the Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV-4, Mazda CX-5, and a few others.

Overall, the Escape is a refined compact SUV that’s going to please a lot of car-buyers.

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