Exterior view of the 2017 Ford Escape Titanium edition.

Not everyone in the market for a SUV wants or needs the largest model. Small families and empty-nesters with on-the-go lifestyles will probably find there are other right-sized models to consider. That’s probably why the Ford Escape has been such a top seller for the manufacturer since it was introduced in 2001, writes our automotive editor Sally Miller Wyatt. – @Siliconeer #Siliconeer #2017FordEscape #Ford #Escape #Lifestyle

The Ford Escape offers the right combination of fuel economy and technological gadgets wrapped up in a nice-looking package. And now, for the 2017 models, it has been significantly updated. Added to this year’s models more of the kinds of features drivers prefer: driver-assisted technologies, two efficient Ecoboost engines and increased connectivity.

Among those technologies is Auto Start-Stop. It is standard with the EcoBoost engine and it shuts off the engine during stops, such as at stoplights, and automatically restarts when you let off the brake. It helps lower fuel usage and tailpipe emissions.

Interior view of the 2017 Ford Escape with Sport Appearance package.

Also on board these 2017 models is SYNC Connect mobile access. It’s an option that allows owners to use the FordPass smartphone platform to start, lock, unlock and locate their vehicle. It also has driver-assisted technologies such as adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support. These safety technologies are terrific to have on board, especially if you are a commuter or live in pedestrian-packed areas. A lane-keeping warning system lets you know when you drift, and Active Park Assist helps with parallel parking. With the press of a button, the system detects an available parallel parking space and automatically steers the vehicle into it. The driver controls the gas and brake.

The 2017 Ford Escape also has a power lift gate. It’s not new but a real convenience feature to have, especially for busy parents who always seem to have their hands full of babies, packages, groceries or the like. The lift gate opens up after it is activated by a gentle kick under the rear bumper. It is just about as convenient for busy families as power sliding doors are on minivans, in my opinion.

Other features on the 2017 models include an upgraded SYNC with MyFord Touch system, which offers many ways for drivers to manage and control information through voice commands, menus on the steering wheel, touch screens, buttons or knobs. Also on board is BLIS—Blind Spot Information System, with cross traffic alert. This is not new to 2017 models but is certainly a safety favorite for me. An alert sign illuminates in the side mirrors when a car rolls into your blind spot. Cross traffic alert warns you when traffic is coming from the sides. It’s extremely helpful to have in parking lots, as it sounds an alarm if you’re pulling out and traffic is coming.

Exterior view of the 2017 Ford Escape Titanium edition.

Another feature is Curve Control. It slows you down if you’re corning too hard or helps you accelerate through a turn if you’re sliding. I think this is fabulous to have on a family car that may have young, inexperienced drivers behind the wheel.

Interior changes to the 2017 models include two new storage bins, improved cup holders, and a larger center armrest.

On the road, I found the 2017 Ford Escape handled extremely well, and continues to be a highly maneuverable vehicle, easily moving around in parking lots and on city streets. It offered good visibility for the driver and front seat passenger, and firm and supportive seats.

The rear bench seat has good leg and hip room for the outboard passengers, but was a bit tight on hip room for the rear middle position.

At freeway speed, the Escape is whisper quiet.

The rear cargo area is large and the opening wide. You can pack all the family’s trappings here, with room to spare.

Overall, the Ford Escape continues to offer drivers and families a lot with these 2017 models. Ford packs it with all the latest in technology and safety features, it is fun to drive, and it has thrifty fuel economy to boot. A great combination.