Here at Gizmodo, we love a good package.
The more tricked out a car can be, the better. We recently got our hands on the 2018 Ford Escape Titanium — complete with the most recent optional technology package. Here’s how it went.
What Is It?
The Ford Escape Titanium is a medium-sized SUV that can taken on adventures as well as driven in the city without making you look like a jerk. I found it to be a comfortable daily driver that could also hold its own when I took a wrong turn in the Royal National Park and ended up more off-road than intended.
The good news is that the Titanium took the dusty bumps, holes and climbs like a champion. Also, I didn’t get murdered.
But what I was most interested in trying was the tech. There are actually some cool inclusions that come as standard with the Titanium, including:
- Heated driver and front passenger seats
- Smart keyless entry
- Hands free power tailgate with Open Sesame
- Adaptive beam shape
- Dynamic bending headlamps
- Voice activated Sat Nav
- Rear parking sensors
- Rear park assist
- 8-inch touchscreen with Sync 3 and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatibility
But if you want to take advantage of all of its capabilities and safety features, you need to invest in the $1300 Optional Technology Pack, which comes with:
- Enhanced active city stop
- Adaptive cruise control
- Blind Spot Information System (BLIS)
- Rear cross traffic alert
- Lane keeping aid
- Lane departure warning
- Automatic high beam
- Driver impairment monitor
- Tyre pressure monitoring system
What’s Good About It?
There’s a lot to like about the tech in this vehicle, especially when it comes to the safety features and added convenience. But I’m going to call out some particular favourites.
I really enjoyed the redesigned 8-inch touchscreens -- which comes as standard with the Titanium model of the Escape. It's easy to use, intuitive and allows for pinch-to-zoom on the map, which I found necessary a few times.
It's also equipped with Ford's Sync3 system, which allows easy smart phone integration through Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Hooking a phone up to your ride isn't anything new, but I always appreciate a system that allows me to blast murder podcasts through the sound system with ease.
The latest generation of this tech has enhanced voice recognition software to aid with hands-free calls and listening to text messages. It worked perfectly every time, including reading out a message from my partner that simply said "lalalalalala." It was pretty funny.
But while I'm sure hands free calls and messages are useful for some buyers, I wonder about its continued relevance over the next few years. I would barely use it if this was my vehicle. Most of my mobile interaction is via Facebook Messenger and the only calls I regularly take are from my parents.
What I hope to see across the entire auto market sooner rather than later is some future-proofing for hands-free communication outside the confines of traditional texts and phone calls. As people's behaviour changes in terms of how they're connecting with people, so will their needs for staying connected on the road. In a safe way, of course.
I found the voice recognition far more handy for was sat nav search. Voice can be a bit hit and miss in a lot of vehicles, but I had a really good experience in the Titanium. And unlike some other SUVs I've driven recently, you don't have to pull over to type an address into the nav.
I get the reasoning behind it -- to stop a driver from typing while driving. But this limitation can be very annoying when you have a passenger in the car trying to use it to no avail.
This convenience can easily be taken for granted, and I appreciated the forethought in the Titanium.
Blind Spot Monitoring
It's not the only SUV in market to have this, but I love it. Its a safety inclusion that is relevant on a daily basis.
The light that triggers on the side mirrors are subtle enough not to be distracting or cause sudden alarm, but also obvious enough that you don't miss it.
It's the little things.
Adaptive Bi-Xenon HID Headlamps
I'm a big fan of adaptive headlamps. My favourite this year have been in the 2018 Holden Commodore VXR Liftback. They a dark spot over oncoming cars, but still has the rest of the road lit up. It's awesome for dark roads with low visibility. I really want to see all vehicles in the future put more safety efforts in the headlights.
And Ford has made a good effort here. The headlights on the Titanium can adapt their beam patterns depending on road conditions, including directing light around bends as you turn and auto dimming high beam when you come across another car.
These features are especially handy for long commutes on long stretches of road. I tested it on the Princes Highway between Wollongong and Sydney late on a Friday night and it did a great job of bringing the brightness down when I came upon another car going in the same direction, as well as for oncoming traffic.
What's Not So Good?
The Hands-Free Power Tailgate is a tricky one because it was great... when it worked. It's designed for optimal convenience, so you can open the boot with ease when your hands are full. This is relevant for anyone who does grocery shopping. Or in my case, approaches a car with a giant hiking backpack and a fistfuls of gear.
Being able to awkwardly kick your foot out and have the car open up for you is a dream, but one that I only had a 50 per cent success rate with. I thought that perhaps I was just an idiot (still a likely theory) but even after checking the diagram several times over, I often couldn't hit the sensor's sweet spot. My partner had the same issue.
Some minor tweaking and widening of the sensor could make this far more convenient.
Should You Buy It?
For the most part, the optional tech package is a myriad of safety features. You could almost call it an Optional Safety Package when it comes to the Titanium, because so much of the "fun" tech comes as standard -- unlike some of the cheaper models in the range.
If you're already prepared to drop $45,000 on the flagship model of the fleet, an extra $1300 for genuinely useful safety features probably isn't that much of a stretch. I found that BLIS and the automatic high beams were fantastic, not to mention the usefulness of lane keeping/assist in the city and on long drives.
However, the features that I found the most consistently relevant were the rear parking sensors and park assist, which do come as standard.
In the end, it's really up to you -- but I'm all for it.
- Hands-free power tailgate is hit and miss
- Great Safety Features
- Good Voice Activation
- A lot of the best tech already comes as standard