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What is it

The 2017 Ford Escape is a major refresh of what has long been Canada's best-selling compact CUV, but which has seen fresher rivals eat into its sales lead of late.

Signature feature

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One could point to the new front-end styling with Edge-style grille, or the re-drawn tailgate, but we think the attention-getter is the exceptional levels of connectivity and semi-automated driving added to an affordable vehicle that was already the segment leader in that regard. For 2016 the Escape was the first Ford to get the new SYNC 3, and now it debuts SYNC® Connect, which lets owners from a distance unlock and lock their doors, start the engine, check fuel level and even locate the vehicle, all through a smartphone App. On the driver-assist side there's enhanced active park assist, active lane-keeping system, adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning with brake support.

What else is new?

The switch to an electric park-brake switch has enabled a centre-console redesign that adds storage space; Ford has continued its work to make the Escape ever quieter; and a revised rear suspension aims to enhance comfort without compromising the nameplate's signature agility.

Under the hood

While the base FWD S model retains the carryover naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre four, the mainstream 1.6-litre EcoBoost is replaced by a more efficient 1.5-litre, and the uplevel 2.0-litre is also substantially new, now with a twin-scroll turbo. Outputs of the 1.5 are expected to match the former 1.6, while the 2.0 now claims 245 hp and 275 lb.-ft. Both EcoBoost engines also have standard Auto Start-Stop.

When can I buy one?

Ford is predicting first deliveries in May.

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Cool quotient

3 stars (out of 5)

Compact CUVs may be popular but they are not intrinsically "cool." That said, all the on-board IT and semi-self-driving features have a certain coolth for those who like that sort of thing.

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