Ford SYNC Connect adds smartphone control to new Escape

Ford is giving its SYNC infotainment system a connected update, with SYNC Connect promising smartphone control of your car. Launching first on the new Ford Escape, SYNC Connect will build on relatively commonplace functions like remote start with the ability to tie the car into a schedule.

So, as well as directly starting the car, it'll be possible to set a remote start in advance of when you plan to leave. That way, Ford suggests, the car will be toasty-warm when you have to brave the winter weather.

Meanwhile there's locking and unlocking support, together with the ability to dig through key metrics such as fuel levels, oil and battery condition, and tire pressure from your phone.

Finally, location services show where the car is on a map.

While they're not the most ambitious connected car features we've ever heard, you can't argue so much with the pricing. Ford will be throwing five years of SYNC Connect service in with every Escape fitted with the system, and plans to roll it out to other models in due course.

As for the new Escape itself, the redesigned compact SUV will have a choice of two EcoBoost engines – 1.5-liters and 2.0-liters – with Auto Start-Stop. Ford claims having the engine cut out when the car is stationary is good for 4- to 6-percent fuel savings.

NOW READ: Living with SYNC 3

A six-speed automatic is standard, and Escape SE and Titanium trims get paddle-shifters. The smaller of the two engines is expected to deliver 180 HP and 185 lb-ft of torque, while the larger is rated for 245 HP and 275 lb-ft.

Other technology on the options list will include adaptive cruise control and forward collision warnings, active park assist, lane-keeping assist, and a driver alert system, in addition to hill-start assist and blind-spot warnings.