As a family of three we regularly jump in the car and make the 158km trek from our home in North Western Sydney to Bathurst. The mandatory trip to see my in-laws/her parents took on a new challenge a year ago, the arrival of our son. I’ll be honest, I’m pretty sure we over pack but the usual weekend visit means our Toyota Camry Hybrid does not pass muster. So recently we jumped in the Ford Escape Trend TDCi and as you can see, it snowed.

The new Ford Escape was launched early last year and replaced the Kuga, that was largely identical.  It’s yet another mid-sized SUV but if you can extend to the Trend variant there’s certainly plenty of good kit onboard.

The as-tested Trend AWD model scores the following, over and above the entry Ambiente model, 18-inch alloy wheels, roof-rails in silver finish, privacy glass, laminated front side windows, automatic rain-sensing windscreen wipers, automatic-dimming rear-vision mirror, automatic on/off headlights, follow-me home lighting plus a leather-wrap gear lever.

But if you can stretch the budget a further $1300 an optional technology pack brings to the table lane departure warning with driver alert, lane keep assist, auto high beam, autonomous emergency braking up to 50km/h (previously up to 30km/h), adaptive cruise with forward alert and enhanced collision mitigation, blind spot system with rear cross-traffic detection and a tyre Pressure Monitoring System.

The 2.0-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder TDCi engine pumps out 132kW / 400Nm, at a leisurely rate. It makes no secret of being a diesel both in and outside of the car. The clatter and general lack of overtaking prowess did grate on me a little. But the trade off is excellent economy at the pump. I averaged over several hundred kilometres 7.2L/100km, pretty tidy but a little way off the claimed  5.6L/100km. 

The six-speed automatic gearbox performs seamlessly and in general it’s hard to fault the drivetrain at all. Most impressive however is the handling, SUVs can never match a sedan for on road dynamics but the Escape comes close.

It corners will little body roll and with a level of confidence that impressed me. With the added benefit of AWD, I found driving in a decent dumping of snow outside of Bathurst a little more comfortable and frankly safer. Although all the white stuff did play havoc with all the various sensors used by the technology pack.   

I wouldn’t say the boot is overly generous with space, but it did pass our pram test. But if size does matter, best to look elsewhere in this category.

The SYNC 3 8.0-inch infotainment system is pretty good these days, although with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard I hardly use it. But it’s bright and clear and certainly doesn’t suffer from common issues like sun glare. 

Ford has a certain way of doing interiors, a way I’ll admit I’m not the biggest fan of. While everything is put together well it just lacks flare and a level of sophistication you will find in a Mazda CX-5 for example.

The EFTM Scoreboard.

At $38,490 you are being hit with a premium to secure the diesel. The Trend Petrol sits at $35,900, I’m not sure the extra cash is worth it to be honest. But overall the Ford Escape is punching above its weight. There is an excellent level of standard features and top-notch driver assist tech should you want it. Our Escape to Bathurst showed me the Ford Escape Trend is an excellent option in the SUV jungle. The score? 7.5 from me