Auto Review: Escape from parking

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Wed., Nov. 27, 2013
- Contributed Photo

A lot of technology pundits have been eagerly prognosticating about the future of self-driving cars, and while I personally think we’re a long way from wide adoption of such vehicles, I can certainly understand why they might think this ability is just around the corner. The inclusion of new features where the car essentially takes over the driving chores in emergency situations has been with us for a while, and is expanding and improving with each model year. And now a feature that was recently only found on high-end luxury cars is expanding into other models all across the spectrum, such as Ford’s system that can be had on this week’s test car, the 2014 Escape Titanium 4WD.

This compact SUV can parallel park itself (you just operate the gas and brake), thanks to the optional Active Park Assist System. But this is only one of the many features of this interesting vehicle. “The Ford Escape combines outstanding fuel economy, versatility and helpful, intuitive technology in a sleek package to make it the ‘smarter utility vehicle,’” explains Raj Nair, group vice president, global product development. Indeed, the Compact SUV segment is a really popular one in these parts because it is an excellent choice given our seasonal driving challenges and the excellent versatility these workhorses offer. The new Escape is in the thick of things when it comes to the race for sales supremacy, and the new 2014 version continues to build on what has been a sales success for the nameplate for many years.

Our Escape Platinum came equipped with a Ford EcoBoost engine; in this case a Turbocharged 2-liter unit that puts out 240 horsepower despite its modest displacement and gets good fuel economy with the help of its Direct Injection fuel management. The sole gearbox is a six-speed SelectShift Automatic that has a manual mode that’s easy to access through a button on the side of the shifter. According the Ford, the Intelligent 4WD on our tester uses advanced software and sensors to analyze data from 25 external signals, assessing road conditions and driver input 20 times faster than the blink of an eye. It then engages the rear wheels as needed to aide the front wheels in providing the best traction. Acceleration was quick, with 60 mph arriving in 8.59 seconds.

Our Titanium Escape, with its advanced Technology package, included (in addition to the Active Park Assist mentioned above) a power rear liftgate with a hands-free feature. All you do when your hands are full is swipe your foot beneath the rear bumper (as long as the key fob is on your person) and the liftgate will open as if by magic. The interior is roomy, although the rear seat isn’t the most capacious in the class. This year’s Escape also offers a Class II towing package so you can pull a 3,500-pound trailer. The 2014 Ford Escape Titanium 4WD is EPA rated 21 MPG city/28  highway and has a base price of $30,850. With options, our sticker came to $35,030.

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