Auto Review: Ford’s all-new Escape

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Apr. 4, 2013
2013 Ford Escape Model Contributed
The 2013 Ford Escape. Courtesy photo.

Peruse any big parking lot here in Connecticut and you’ll see how popular compact SUVs have become. They offer pretty much everything people need in a car, in that they have a lot of room for their size, all-weather capability, reasonable fuel economy and impressive versatility.  All the major players (especially Toyota, Honda and Ford) sell a lot of these excellent vehicles, and in the case of Ford, they have had the best-selling compact SUV for years. For 2013, the company has just completed the first major overhaul of the Escape since it was initially released in the 2001 model year, and the new edition is a whole different animal.

“The Escape is America’s best-selling utility vehicle, and the Ford team has worked hard to make sure we deliver even more of what small SUV owners really want,” said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. “We call our all-new Ford Escape the ‘Smarter Utility Vehicle,’ because it offers the strengths that customers today really value – fuel economy, versatility and new technology that makes driving and living with the vehicle easier and more fun – all wrapped in a sleek, more modern design.”

This new design is certainly contemporary, and far sleeker and more aggressive than the previous Escape. The new chassis is built on a 105.9-inch wheelbase, which is longer than last year, but there’s actually less overall room inside compared to the 2012 model. There are three engines offered: a 2.5-liter Inline Four with 168 horsepower and two turbocharged EcoBoost engines of 1.6-liter and 2-liters in displacement. The 1.6 has 178 horsepower, and the 2-liter (which we tested) has 240 horsepower. All engines get six-speed automatic transmissions, and come with front wheel drive with the 2 and 2.5-liter engines also having a four-wheel drive option. Our tester had this excellent all-weather feature, and was reasonably quick, with 60 mph arriving in an average of 7.75 seconds. The transmission shifts smoothly, and the taut suspension delivers crisp handling with a compliant ride. The vehicle is based on Ford Focus architecture, so the sporty driving dynamics are not surprising, as it is one of the better handling compacts on the road. The only foible was a turning radius that seemed wider than expected.

Inside, the new Escape feels cozier than the previous generation, but still has decent room and versatility. The driver’s instrument pod is attractive and comprehensive, and the only downside is the MyFord Touch interface for the infotainment systems that is far from intuitive. The rear seats aren’t the most spacious in the class, but our Titanium trim level featured an excellent panoramic moonroof, which made the cabin seem roomier than it actually is. Our test unit also had Ford’s optional Parking Technology Package that essentially lets the vehicle park itself under the right circumstances. A hands-free power lift gate is also an option for those carrying armfuls of groceries or other cargo.

The 2013 Ford Escape Titanium 4WD is EPA rated 21 MPG city/28 highway and has a base price of $32,120.

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