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The Car Connection
The 2014 Ford Escape has a base price that's in the same range as most compact crossovers, although it may come as a shock to find out that a fully loaded Titanium model commands around $38k. To compare, a base Land Rover Range Rover Evoque starts at around $45k.
The base Escape S includes air conditioning; an AM/FM/CD player with six speakers; an auxiliary jack; power windows; cloth seats; and the 2.5-liter four-cylinder and the six-speed automatic. A step up from that is the Escape SE, which adds on standard satellite radio; a ten-way power driver's seat; 17-inch wheels; keypad entry on the door frame; and Ford's Bluetooth-driven SYNC controller, which uses voice commands to run phone and audio systems, with information displayed on a 4.0-inch color screen.
Last year's SEL is discontinued, but the top Escape Titanium is even more of a top-of-the-line luxury model than before. The Titanium gets leather seats, heated front seats, ambient lighting, a power converter, and dual-zone climate control, along with a media hub with two USB ports, RCA jacks, and an SD slot. In addition to the top 240-hp four-cylinder engine, the Titanium also steps up to heated mirrors, 19-inch wheels, pushbutton start, and fog lamps. You'll also get a hands-free tailgate, which lets you wave a foot under the bumper to open or close the tailgate automatically.
Major options on various Escape models include a panoramic sunroof; pushbutton start; navigation system; Sony sound system; HD radio; remote start; hands-free liftgate; active park assist; 18-inch wheels; and a towing package. For 2014, a Titanium Technology Package is now optional and adds HID Headlamps, a blind-spot system, park assist, and rain-sensing wipers.
MyFord Touch, the touchscreen-and-voice system that takes over operation of audio,, media, and other features, is available on the SE and included in the Titanium. We did notice that the Escape has a volume knob and a simpler climate-control interface with knobs and buttons--whereas, first-gen MyFord Touch crossovers like the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX had swipe-sensitive strips for those functions that rarely responded quickly or evenly to the touch. Here's to those small steps of retreat—although things tend to take a few more steps than they would with dedicated buttons.
Leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, and Sony sound boost the Escape past other bargain crossovers -- but the price goes up accordingly.