2013 Ford Escape

SAN FRANCISCO  — Ford unveiled its all-new 2013 Ford Escape in San Francisco in April and used the location’s twisty mountain roads to illustrate the SUV's handling and ride improvements. The Escape is an important element to Ford's continued domination of the sport utility market, and Ford has high hopes the revitalized Escape, which comes with a choice of two fuel-efficient EcoBoost engines, will continue to be the compact segment leader.

The new Escape boasts 11 new exclusive features, and fuel economy projected to top any vehicle of its kind on the market today.

Among them are a hands-free power liftgate activated by a gentle kicking motion under the center of the rear bumper (allowing quick and easy access to the cargo area without having to set down packages or dig out keys. The same process closes the hatch), SYNC with MyFord Touch, sensor-based Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert, Active Park Assist and a host of other technologies.

Ford offers a pair of its award-winning EcoBoost engines that offer increased performance while achieving better fuel economy.

First up is a 1.6L I-4 DOHC, four valves per cylinder engine producing 178 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The other EcoBoost engine is a 2.0L I-4 that pumps out 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. For those not wanting to pay the premium for the EcoBoost engines the standard fare is a 2.5L iVCT I-4 putting out 168 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque.  All three are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Fuel economy of the 2.5L FWD is 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway and for the 2.0L EcoBoost AWD the numbers are 21/28, and for the FWD, 22/30. Mileage for the 1.6L engine is not yet available.

We drove both EcoBoost engines and the power difference wasn’t that discernible on level roads, but it was noticeable on mountainous grades. Same could be said of towing capacity. When properly equipped the 2.5L can tow 1,500 pounds; the 1.6L EcoBoost can tow 2,000 pounds and the 2.0L EcoBoost can tow 3,500 pounds. Minimum tire size is 17 inches with steel wheels and maximum is 19 inches in premium painted aluminum.

Design of the 2013 model is much sleeker. It’s nearly 10% more aerodynamic than the outgoing model. The active grille shutter system which is on all models with the 2.5L engine and 1.6L EcoBoost reduces wind resistance. Grille slats stay open when extra engine cooling air is required, such as low-speed stop-and-go driving. However, when cruising on the highway at steady speeds the slats automatically close to improve aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. 

The 2013 Escape comes in four trim levels: the base S, SE, SEL and the top-of-the-line Titanium. Ford estimates SE sales will be in the neighborhood of 60% of total volume. During our testing we drove a fully-loaded Titanium that hit the scales at about $35,000 and also an SE that came in at about $29,000. Money not being the driving force (pardon the pun) there is no doubt the Titanium would make a proud addition to anyone’s driveway.

The interior is well-done and it’s readily apparent that good materials were selected in both the upscale leather interior and even the cloth seating. Both were extremely comfortable and held the driver and passenger tight during turns. (There was also no feeling of body roll, either.) Wind noise was negligible. Instrumental panel and centerstack lighting was crisp and clean. Mileage numbers on the digital printout of the IP were easily read from the passenger side as well.

There’s a lot of “haul” room in the new Escape, what with its flat-fold rear seating. With the seats down the cargo volume is 68.1 cubic feet behind the first row; 34.3 cubic feet behind the second. Loading the Escape is also easier because the lift over height is 27 inches.  Five can actually fit comfortably. Front-row seating is 40.4 inches (maximum front legroom is 43.1 inches) and second-row legroom is 36.8 inches.

The 2013 Escape won’t be available until later in the year but when it finally does get to the showrooms the amount of Escapes on the road should expand rapidly. Everybody loves a bargain and with all its new content the 2013 Escape will cost $200 less on average. That truly is a great escape.

— Al Vinikour and Jim Meachen