2021 Ford Escape FAQ Review

Jack R. Nerad, Independent Expert | Jun 21, 2021

The 2021 Ford Escape is smack-dab in the middle of the most popular vehicle segment in the United States car market. The 5-passenger crossover utility competes with such well-known names as the Honda CR-VNissan Rogue, and Toyota RAV4, and it more than holds its own. Recently, Ford introduced another model in the class — the off-road-oriented Ford Bronco Sport — that indicates two things:

  • How popular the segment is
  • How versatile the Escape's mechanical components are

Though it is in a thoroughly conventional segment and is in many ways a perfect representative of that conventionality, the Ford Escape also surprises with unexpected tech. For example, the base engine isn't a ubiquitous 4-cylinder but a turbocharged 3-cylinder. And you can get a conventional hybrid or plug-in hybrid powertrain in the Escape as well.

In short, the Ford Escape can be almost anything a compact crossover buyer wants it to be unless it's a dedicated off-roader. And for the adventurous customer, Ford has the all-new 2021 Ford Bronco Sport that in some ways is an Escape wearing a different suit.

What's new for the 2021 Ford Escape? - Find the best Ford deals!

Completely redesigned for the 2020 model year, the changes to the Ford Escape for 2021 aren't heart-stopping:

  • Hybrid powertrain now available on SE and SEL trim levels
  • Hybrid powertrain standard on Titanium trim
  • Class II Trailer Tow package available on certain trims only
  • Power liftgate standard on SEL

2021 Ford Escape SPECS - Find the best Ford deals!

2021 Ford Escape Titan Elite Package Black Front Quarter View

What are the 2021 Ford Escape configurations?

Ford offers a wide variety of Escape models, some with conventional and some with hybrid or plug-in hybrid powertrains. The Escape model discussed in-depth in this FAQ Review is conventionally powered. Except for the Titanium, all trims make front-drive (FWD) standard, while all-wheel drive (AWD) is widely available. All Titanium models have AWD.

Ford makes the 2021 Escape in four trim levels: S, SE, SEL, and Titanium. Both conventional hybrid powertrains and plug-in hybrid powertrains are offered in SE, SEL, and Titanium trims. The conventional hybrid is fueled just like a conventional Escape and has a very limited battery-only driving range. The Escape plug-in has an all-electric driving range of 37 miles.

What is the 2021 Ford Escape price?

Base prices for the 2021 Escape range from $25,555 for the base model to $38,885 for the Titanium trim plug-in. In addition, each vehicle has a destination charge of $1,245.

What is the 2021 Ford Escape cargo space/trunk space?

The Ford Escape offers 37.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat in the conventionally powered version. Hybrids have 34.4 cubic feet of space. With the back seat folded, cargo space jumps to 65.4 cubic feet in conventional Escapes and 60.8 cubic feet in the hybrids. A hands-free liftgate is available on some trims.

What is the 2021 Ford Escape gas mileage?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the 2021 Escape should return the following fuel economy in combined driving:

  • 30 mpg for S, SE, and SEL trims with the 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine
  • 26 mpg for SEL and Titanium trims with the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine
  • 41 mpg for SE, SEL, and Titanium trims with the hybrid powertrain
  • 105 MPGe and 40 mpg for SE, SEL, and Titanium trims with the plug-in hybrid powertrain

During testing of the 2021 Escape with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and AWD, the car averaged 23.5 mpg. With a fuel tank capacity of 14.8 gallons, the expected driving range is about 350 miles. It's wise to re-fuel at the 300-mile-mark.

Is the 2021 Ford Escape safe?

The Escape has an array of standard and available advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) across the lineup in its Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of technologies, so it has the technologies to offer excellent safety.

The 2021 Escape has been awarded "Top Safety Pick" by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The award applies to Escapes with particular headlights that match IIHS criteria.

The Escape also received a highest-possible 5-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in its new car assessment program.

What is the 2021 Ford Escape towing capacity?

With the available Class II trailer tow package, an Escape with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and AWD has a maximum tow rating of 3,500 pounds. Tow ratings for other Escape configurations range from 1,500-2,000 pounds.

2021 Ford Escape REVIEW - Find the best Ford deals!

For this review, I evaluated a 2021 Ford Escape SEL. It had "Antimatter Blue" paint, the optional 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that brought with it AWD, and the Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+ ADAS package. This resulted in a manufacturer's suggested price of $34,945, including the destination charge.

How is the 2021 Ford Escape interior?

2021 Ford Escape SEL Interior Profile

The Ford Escape makes getting in a breeze. Based on its ride height, roofline, door openings, and step-in height, you neither have to drop down or climb up into it. You simply slide into the driver's seat naturally.

The Escape's interior design is both very conventional and quietly attractive. Virtually everything is where you'd expect it to be. The most prominent feature is the infotainment screen jutting above the level of the rest of the dashboard, making it easily visible by the driver at a glance. Below are system controls that feature a classic volume knob at the left and a tuning knob on the right, with equally straightforward discrete pushbuttons in between. The instruments and gauges are easily visible in their familiar spots under an arched cover.

The controls on the spokes of the thick-section steering wheel are also placed in familiar positions and are easy to understand and operate. They include switches and buttons for the audio/infotainment system and the ADAS adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go plus lane centering.

The gear selector is a rotary knob close to the driver on the center console, and twin cupholders reside beyond it toward the passenger seat. The heating and ventilating controls are (yes) very convenient and nicely positioned above a cubby at the front of the console area. Again, no surprises; just a functional arrangement.

One of the pleasant surprises in the Escape SEL is the quality of the seat coverings. They are not genuine leather, but they do an excellent job of simulating it. And they coordinate well with the soft-plastic surfaces of the dash and other interior trim. In many ways, the Escape SEL's interior seems like a slightly smaller version of a Ford Explorer or Expedition interior.

Is the 2021 Ford Escape comfortable?

The synthetic leather on the Escape SEL's seats doesn't just look good as previously described; they also felt good after several hours behind the wheel. One of several advantages of purchasing the SEL trim is that it includes heated front seats – a boon on chilly mornings. The driver's seat power-adjusts 10 ways, and the seat also has power-operated lumbar support and recline – an upscale seat in a relatively low-cost vehicle. Adding to the luxe treatment, the steering wheel is heated and wrapped in supple faux leather.

The 60/40 split-folding rear seats are belted for three, and three adults could co-exist there for moderately long drives. But with two adults in the back, the seating is comfortable, and there is some stretch-around room. Affixing one of two child safety seats should be no issue.

Another good reason to choose the Escape SEL trim is that it includes a dual-zone automatic temperature control system. This is a boon for rear-seat passengers who get short shrift in some compact crossover utilities (including lesser Escape trims.)

Does the 2021 Ford Escape drive itself?

No, not in the literal sense, but in certain circumstances, the Escape does drive itself, provided you are paying attention and have your hands on the steering wheel. Divert your attention or take your hands off the wheel for too long, and the self-driving systems will deactivate, and you will be back in total control.

Equipped as the test Escape SEL was with the Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+ ADAS, the vehicle had adaptive cruise control teamed with lane centering that enabled it to brake, accelerate, and steer around corners provided certain conditions are met.

The system reads the lanes by eyeballing the lane markings and makes steering corrections to maintain the Escape's position in the lane. This also enables it to steer through corners. Still, it won't navigate around slowing traffic into an adjacent lane or honk the horn at other drivers who make particularly egregious mistakes.

The Escape's system is particularly well-suited to stop-and-go commuter driving because it will bring the vehicle down to a stop when necessary and then accelerate if the car immediately in front begins to move again in a reasonable timeframe. When that time expires, the driver has to initiate acceleration.

The Co-Pilot360 Assist+ also includes evasive action assist in case of an emergency, but that is something I neither wanted to nor was required to test.

Does the 2021 Ford Escape have AWD?

Yes, it can be equipped with AWD as the test model SEL with the 2.0-liter engine was. All-wheel drive is available across the board, including hybrid models. The 2.0-liter engine requires AWD, while the plug-in hybrid trims are front-drive only.

The AWD system in the test vehicle contributed to its fun-to-drive quotient and significantly upped its towing capacity. It should also offer advantages in inclement weather.

Is the 2021 Ford Escape fun to drive?

In the form of the test Escape SEL with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, Ford's compact SUV is definitely fun to drive. With 250 horsepower on tap, 8-speed automatic transmission, and the extra traction that standard AWD affords, the Escape delivers satisfying performance. Going from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in well less than six seconds is not something very many compact SUVs can boast. The Escape SEL is quicker to 60 mph than the highly praised 250-horsepower version of the Mazda CX-5, for example, according to independent testers.

This is not to say the Escape's handling is razor-sharp, however. In terms of suspension settings and tires, the Escape leans toward offering a smooth ride rather than edge-of-the-track performance, and that's as it should be. When you seek to accelerate into merging traffic on a freeway or go to pass a slow-moving truck on a rural two-lane, the power is there, but the Escape doesn't use performance as its calling card.

Escapes equipped with the base 181-horsepower turbocharged 3-cylinder engines don't offer the acceleration of the test model. On the other hand, 181 horsepower and a flat torque curve make vehicles so equipped more enjoyable than you might imagine. The added electric torque available on a split-second's notice endows the hybrids with praiseworthy drivability, too.

The bottom line is the 2021 Ford Escape will offer as much fun-to-drive as you are willing to pay for while bringing with it all the versatility of a roomy compact crossover.

IS THE 2021 FORD ESCAPE A GOOD SUV? - Find the best Ford deals!

The buyers of 2020 model-year Ford Escapes certainly think the vehicle is a good one. According to the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study, the Ford Escape is the top-ranked compact SUV (in a tie with the Mazda CX-5). The Escape did not rank in the top three in its segment in either the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Initial Quality Study or the 2021 U.S. Vehicle Dependability. The latter of those examined 2018 model-year vehicles — the previous Ford Escape generation — after three years of ownership.

2021 Ford Escape SEL EcoBoost Red Rear Quarter View

From the point of view of a compact SUV buyer, the Ford Escape checks all the right boxes. It is roomy, comfortable, accommodating, and versatile. Plus, it is available in a wide variety of styles that make it suitable for a wide variety of owners.

What is the 2021 Ford Escape competition? - Find the best Ford deals!

The market is full of compact crossovers that compete with the 2021 Ford Escape. Some of the best-known and bestselling are the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Nissan Rogue. And there are about a dozen more, but few models offer the variety that the Ford Escape provides in terms of powertrain and equipment level. On top of that, the new 2021 Ford Bronco Sport utilizes many Ford Escape components, including its two conventional engines, taking the platform in an off-road direction.

The Escape is in the dead-middle of the compact segment in terms of overall length, wheelbase, cargo area, and passenger space. It is essentially the picture-in-the-dictionary of what a compact crossover SUV is.

On-road duty is its forte, but the AWD versions can handle light- to medium-duty off-pavement excursions as well. Most of all, the Ford Escape is a reliable companion to do all sorts of things in all types of weather — just like a compact crossover should.

Jack R. Nerad has been road testing and writing about vehicles for decades for Web and print publications, including JDPower.com and others. He has a weekly podcast called America on the Road, and his work has appeared in scores of prestigious newspapers, magazines, and online publications.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

Explore new car previews
2023 Ford F-Series Super Duty Preview
2023 Ford F-Series Super Duty Preview
F-Series Super Duty trucks got what they needed for the 2023 model year. Ford announced a more powerful line of heavy-duty trucks with a load of available new tech, great standard safety features, and unique upfits to make the trucks more appropriate for specific industries.
Read the full review
2023 Honda Pilot Preview
2023 Honda Pilot Preview
The fourth-generation 2023 Honda Pilot is about to go on sale, and Honda substantially upgrades it over the popular third-generation model it replaces. Honda will offer the redesigned 2023 Pilot in Sport, EX-L, TrailSport, Touring, and Elite trim levels in December 2022.
Read the full review
2023 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Rebel Preview
2023 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Rebel Preview
Ram used the 2022 State Fair of Texas to show off its new 2500 Heavy Duty Rebel, a beefy off-road truck that retains its work-truck capabilities. It brings hardcore off-road upgrades such as an electronic-locking rear differential and a rear limited-slip differential.
Read the full review
Read all articles


Scroll to the top
New Car Preview
2023 Mazda CX-50 Preview
Most Dependable
2019 Vehicle Dependability: Most Dependable Family SUVs
Most Popular
10 Most Popular Luxury SUVs and Crossovers
New Model Update
New for 2019: Land Rover
New Car Preview
2023 Kia Sportage PHEV Preview
More related
articles