The Ford Escape has been an anomaly in the car business, with its best sales years at the end of the product cycle, even outselling the giants of the category the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 the last year. However, in our mind it was old school SUV ? a box with rounded corners.
The 2013 Ford Escape has the kind of bold new design that reaches out and grabs your attention, or at least it did for us. No longer a boxy looking wagon, the Escape designers have created sleek lines more like those of its larger sibling, the Edge, but with a front end similar to the popular Ford Focus. The result is a dramatic new look that changes the whole complexion of the Escape.
Describing the Escape, Chief engineer, Erik Loeffler, said, ?The new Escape is a great leap forward and delivers what customers around the world seek in a compact sport utility vehicle ? eye-catching design, an engaging driving experience, outstanding fuel economy and the capability to take you on any adventure you have in mind.?
The dramatic design carries over to the interior but perhaps it ends up a bit too busy with a dash that?s more cluttered looking than flowing like the exterior. What the dash lacks in aesthetics, however, it makes up for in function. Controls are well placed and user friendly with a quality feel. Even the SYNC? and MyFordTouch? infotainment systems are a bit more user friendly than past versions we?ve tried to use in other Ford models. The press has beat up these systems, but to be fair, they can be very impressive if the owner takes some extra time to learn their ?language? and how to use them. In fact, many Ford dealers are offering special training sessions to help. Unfortunately, the week we drive a car is not nearly enough time, so we tend to be frustrated.
The seats are comfortable and supportive, but have more sew lines and panels than necessary. Of course, once you sit on the seat, you don?t have to look at it and in this case, the result is quite comfortable.
The Escape is designed for five passengers, but the rear seat is too crowded with three adults. The 34.3 cubic feet of cargo space will easily haul a week?s luggage for five or a lot of sports equipment. The space grows to 68.1 cubic feet when the rear seatback is folded, and it looks like there?s enough room for two or three bicycles. Escape also has a 3,500-pound towing capacity when equipped with the optional towing package.
One of the fun new features in the Escape is the power liftgate. Walk up the rear cargo door with the key fob in a pocket or purse, make a simple kicking gesture toward the bottom center of the bumper, and the liftgate unlocks and raises automatically. Make the kicking motion again and the door closes. Our grandson thinks this feature is ?way cool? and so does his grandmother. The door can be programmed for a predetermined opening height, too, for owners that might have a low garage door or other overhead obstacles.
The Escape drives more like a small sport sedan than a bulky SUV. It stays relatively flat on the corners and has a precise steering feel. The 2.0 EcoBoost engine produces quick acceleration (0 to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds) with virtually no turbo lag. The Escape feels agile and even has a reasonably tight, for a four-wheel drive, 39.5-foot turning radius for a quick U-turn. However, one of the most impressive features was how quiet it is inside at highway speeds.
Escape comes in four models, S, SE, SEL and Titanium. The S is only available in front-wheel drive and the 168-hp 2.5-liter Duratec? four-cylinder engine. The SE and SEL models have a standard 178-hp 1.6-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine and available four-wheel drive. The standard engine in the Titanium, and optional in the SE and SEL, is the 240-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost. All Escapes have a six-speed automatic transmission.
The 2.5-liter gets an EPA rating of 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway compared to 20/27 mpg for the previous generation. The new 1.6-liter EcoBoost is rated at 24/33mpg and the 2.0-liter EcoBoost gets EPA estimates of 21/28 mpg compared the previous V-6, which was rated at 18/23 mpg. All the new Escapes have a much lower coefficient of drag than the previous generation and they have self-closing grille shutters to reduce drag at higher speeds.
Pricing starts at $23,295, including the destination charge, for the front-wheel drive S and goes as high as $32,945 for the top level Titanium four-wheel drive. Standard equipment on Titanium includes features like HD Radio?, remote start, heated leather seating (front), HID headlights, power liftgate and reverse sensing system. Loaded, with all the optional features, the price can top $37,000.
Escape has available some of Ford?s cool new technologies, like the active park assist that steers the vehicle for you when parallel parking and the MyKey?, which allows the owner to control how the vehicle is driven by other drivers.
The new Ford Escape is impressive for its looks, performance, fuel economy and technology, and is a ?must drive? for anyone looking for a compact SUV or crossover.