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Test Drive: Escape Artists

There are times when you just need to get away. Naturally, that task is made much easier with the right set of wheels, like these two compact crossovers.

Test Drive: Ford Escape

(Photo: Ford)

It’s not often that a car model’s name succinctly sums up its strengths. The Ford Escape is an exception.

That’s because this compact SUV actually does make a great escape pod from everyday life. The top-of-the-line Titanium model I tested featured the automaker’s 250-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that gave it more than enough muscle in normal driving (a 181-horsepower, three-cylinder and a pair of hybrid powertrains are also available), plus an impressive 3,500-pound towing capacity.

There’s surprisingly good room throughout the cabin, including a back seat fit for two adults.

My Titanium tester offered the Sync 3 infotainment system, one of best setups out there, along with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration. Emergency braking, blind-spot warning and lane-keeping assist systems come standard.

Taken together, it makes the Ford Escape an ideal getaway vehicle.

Test Drive: Jeep Cherokee

Sometimes, when you want to get gone, you may very well want to get long gone. That’s where the Jeep Cherokee comes in.

The Cherokee has what it takes to get you a good ways off the beaten path. While it’s not as rugged as its Wrangler sibling, fitted with one of the optional four-wheel drive systems it will surely get you to that secret fishing hole or mountain-bike trail.

Back on the pavement, the handling and ride quality are remarkably car-like. That said, the Cherokee has a heft that makes it feel larger than comparable crossover SUVs.

Under the hood, there’s a trio of available engines, including two four-cylinders and the stout 271-horsepower, 3.2-liter V-6 propelling the top-of-the-line Limited model I drove. Properly equipped, V6-powered Cherokees will let you bring that small camping trailer with you, thanks to a hefty max towing capacity of 4,500 pounds. No matter which powertrain you choose, fuel economy is bound to be a little disappointing.

Looking for a new ride? Check out more car reviews at AAA.com/TestDrive.

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