Escape Route received favorable reviews from music critics. AllMusic's David Jeffries gave the three and a half stars out of five, saying "Budden's years stuck in contract negotiation limbo gave him plenty of time to store up material, but his third release of the year is almost as strong as his first triumphs of 2009. Poll the hip-hop faithful for opinions on Escape Route, and Budden himself would be the only one underselling it as a minor release." Rakeem Johnson of The Koalition gave the album a four out of five, saying "Escape Route stands as yet another stellar release in Joe Budden's ever-growing catalogue of quality (his [fourth] release since 2007's Mood Muzik 3). As fluid as this project is, had the album ended with the intense thrill ride that is "Freight Train," it would easily be a five-star release. The addition of the Young Chris-assisted "Connect 4" as well as the Wale-featured bonus "Tito Santana" slows the album's momentum though [Royce da 5'9"] and Budden's chemistry on "For You" is undeniable. [Escape Route] features the misunderstood mind of Joe Budden at his best: personable and honest, defiant yet focused and hungry as he's ever been. Billed as a mere appetizer before The Great Escape, [Escape Route] has a Mood Muzik-feel, Budden's own "release therapy" session and an apt escape route as Joe Budden maps out his way to daylight and his own salvation."
HipHopDX reviewer, Andres Vasquez, gave the album a three out of five, saying "Gaining creativity from the dark clouds, he remains introspective and polished as a writer, demonstrating lyricism that's miles ahead of many in the genre. Acknowledging the fact that this release comes with defects, it seems it wasn't given the attention of an official album. In a press release, Budden noted that Escape Route is merely a precursor to "what may very well be the best Joe Budden album ever." That may or may not prove true but it does sound like this release wasn't a priority. It still delivers the goods for any fan of poetry on wax but the overall sound quality simply isn't up to par, making this nothing more or less than another solid effort." J. Tinsley of The Smoking Section gave the album a 3.5 out of five, saying "Ultimately, Escape Route finds itself as one of Budden's best releases since 2007's Mood Muzik 3. In typical [Joe Budden] fashion, there's the occasional tedious moments as the appeal is his trademark lack of enthusiasm. But with the upcoming album, The Great Escape and Mood Muzik 4 supposedly in the making, his solo career could soon begin to receive the artistic recognition many have been clamoring for for years. That is, if he doesn't drive himself crazy beforehand."