Test Drive: Does the 2014 Ford Escape Live Up to Its Name?

Test Drive: Does the 2014 Ford Escape Live Up to Its Name?Image via Ford

2014 Ford Escape Titanium
Engine: 2.0L EcoBoost 1-4
Power: 168 hp
Fuel Economy: 22/30
Starting MSRP: $29,100

If summer is the season for road trips, autumn is the time for escape. America's highways are dotted with glorious color and the simple pleasures of apple and pumpkin picking are rarely more than a few hours travel away. Escape, as we see it, is about getting back to basics: Hit the road, get into nature, and reinvigorate the mind. 

Our ideal escape? North from NYC on the Taconic State Parkway into the Berkshires and Massachusetts. The sights are pretty. The destinations varied. And, most important, the roads are fun. It's an ideal run for a car like the Ford Mustang. However, there's no joy in a singular escape. Escape (contrary to what you may believe staring longingly out of your office window) is about camaraderie, shared experience, and full-on adventure.

Cars often have silly names. These might be somewhat evocative. Or, the names might simply be a jumble of numbers or letters serving only to differentiate models in a fleet. The Ford Escape falls into the former category. More than just evoke a free spirit, its name also follows function. Naturally, in testing our theory that autumn is time for escape, we took the opportunity to test drive the 2014 Ford Escape Titanium. Cheesy conceit? You bet. But, it fits four adults comfortably and offers wallet-friendly gas milage. Any further questions? Let's start with the basics ...

Our Destination: North Adams and Williamstown, MA

Three and a half hours from NYC, North Adams and Williamstown occupy a quiet corner of Northwestern Massachusetts. In North Adams, the specter of the once-powerful Mill industry remains. Huge buildings surround a pleasant downtown, all of which have become a mecca for art lovers. Williamstown is home to Williams College and is appropriately picturesque. The surrounding area is filled with fine hiking and foliage. In short: A perfect autumn retreat.

Things to do: Visit farms, hit art museums

Here is the joy of North Adams and Williamstown: In a relatively small area, you can experience tried and true New England things (farms, maple syrup, colonial history, etc.) and world-class art. Start the day by visiting a farm. At Sweet Brook in Williamstown, there are Alpacas to hang with and home-made maple syrup products for purchase. If you're feeling nostalgic, take a hay ride. 

North Adams and Williamstown have, between the two, three world class museums. Founded in 1999, MASS MoCA, in North Adams, occupies a former mill complex and has emerged as one of the world's premier centers for contemporary art. A short drive away, the Clark offers a wealth of nineteenth-century American and European painting and sculpture. Founded by Sterling and Francine Clark, the institution is a mecca for art historians and one of the nation's leading art research centers. On the Williams campus, the Williams College Museum of Art, regularly mounts terrific shows and is a perfect third wheel to the region's more renowned museums. Need more art? Main Street North Adams is dotted with fun galleries. 

Where to stay: The Porches Inn

Situated across from MASS MoCA, the Porches Inn was spawned by the museum and contains 47 "retro-chic" rooms. You get free breakfast, free WiFi, and access to hot tub, pool, and sauna. Not bad, right? 

The glory of the inn also comes in how it is composed. Refurbishing a string of row houses, The Porches Inn has a community vibe. Each room has a DVD player, at the front desk they'll supply you with a selection of films and pop a bucket of pop corn for you. Rest and relaxation are part of an escape, don't forget.

How the Escape helps augment a road trip: Awesome sunroof, great technology 

Ford calls it the VistaRoof. Conventional wisdom labels it a sunroof. Symantics aside, the ability to quote 2 Chainz (Pull up to the scene with the ceiling missing) while drving a CUV is rare. And, its appropriately pleasant. With temperatures starting to dip, but sun in full swing, opening up to the sky and breathing in the change in season is appropriately awesome.

The 2014 Escape follows the 2013 model year in providing heaps of technology. The 355-watt, 10-speaker Sony system keeps the ride flowing. We tested the subwoofer against Stalley's Honest Cowboy mixtape. It responded admirably. Connecting the system to personal devices is also a breeze, and should you need to power up, the car also has 100v power sockets. (Rule No. 1 of the contemporary road trip: Don't miss an Instagram moment because of battery loss).

At night, ambient lighting gives the car some mood-matching. Given that we think the Escape is one of the great mom cars, the lightening serves to remind of the vehicles true crossover potential. Point blank: It drives well and transports passengers comfortably, all while packing appropriate convienience—loads of cup holders!—into an appropriately sized package.

Bottom line: The 2014 Ford Escape Titanium matches a capable ride with a super comfortable ride. Give it a Hybrid engine and we'd certainly put it on a short-list of daily drivers.

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