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Driven: 2014 Ford Escape Titanium EcoBoost presses fun button

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Today we enjoyed a quick drive in the new 2014 Ford Escape Titanium. Our fully loaded tester had the top option 2.0 liter 240 horsepower EcoBoost engine and all-wheel drive, along with all the Titanium Tech Package.

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All new last year, the 2014 Ford Escape shares the One Ford design theme which is sharp and angular, a style which spans cars to SUV’s around the globe. It’s handsome and smart at first impression with many small details that catch your eye.

The large 18” aluminum wheels filled the openings well and planted the Escape visually. The while the two-tone treatment of the black plastic against the Sunset Metallic paint somehow made it look more upscale than body cladding used to.

Inside, the cabin is comprised of high quality materials and offers a commanding view over the hood. Despite its SUV height, it feels decidedly like a car from behind the wheel. The interior is virtually identical to the Ford C-Max to which it shares many things.

Our Escape had the latest generation MyFord Touch driver interface which is easier to use than before but still seems tech for tech’s sake. Additional hard controls have been added for 2014 to lessen the need for touch screen menu use, but still we would prefer what most brands offer up…simplicity.

The driver seat the cabin offers few blind spots when in traffic. There is a back-up camera which comes in handy too. For a compact SUV, the cabin is spacious feeling and offers plenty of leg and head room front and rear, and yes it passes the hat test.

The optional 2.0 liter turbocharged direct injected four-cylinder offers strong acceleration and really can be a kick. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the power-train is well refined with smooth shifts and a nice demeanor.

Handling is much like a sedan, with little top-heavy motions associated with the old Ford Escape. It’s well balanced and has a light feel that makes it a breeze in traffic as well as parking lots. Highway driving remains solid and stable.

Overall we were impressed with the 2014 Ford Escape, it’s much improved over the first generation in every way. Our test vehicle however at nearly $36,000 had us thinking that at this level you can begin looking at luxury brands.

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