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FEATURES | 8 out of 10
Expect to pay a bigger monthly premium for this level of on-the-road connectivity
Travel Link also does a whole bunch of other cool stuff
Car and Driver
complicates some functions by requiring multiple button and/or touch-screen presses
Ford's new corporate calling card is in-car technology--anything it can wire up to make your drive more entertaining, less distracting, and even more safe.
The 2011 Escape gets some, if not all, of Ford's latest inventions, innovations and off-the-shelf purchases. The base versions can be quite lean in their standard equipment, but all include the usual power features, cruise control, and an AM/FM/CD player.
Moving up the trim lines, Ford installs features like SYNC, the Bluetooth-driven system that uses your own voice commands to operate some of the climate, audio and navigation functions of the car. The most current version of SYNC has a much broader vocabulary than in the past, and it's become much easier to use as a result--though there's still a learning curve in swapping out hand gestures for audibles.
Sirius satellite radio is available, and on more expensive Escapes, it comes with Travel Link, the equivalent of a location-based RSS feed going through the car's LCD screen. Travel Link updates you on the local weather, sports scores, even fills you in on movie times--and can help you find low gas prices at nearby stations.
Other infotainment features include a USB port for audio players; a DVD drive that allows you to watch videos on the optional navigation system's big LCD screen when the Escape sits parked. The new MyFord Touch system, which replaces many buttons with touchscreen commands, isn't offered on the Escape.
HD Radio is a new option for the 2011 model year, and the Escape also can be fitted with an Active Park Assist function that uses cameras, sensors and the electronic power steering system to steer into a parallel parking spot by itself, while the driver rides the brake pedal as a precaution.
MyFord Touch isn't available, but the 2011 Ford Escape has SYNC, Bluetooth, GPS, Sirius and a few other high-tech hotkeys in its pocket.