Ford formulates a modern Escape plan
"The exterior was perhaps the greatest risk Ford took in changing the Escape’s look to the new-look global platform."
The Escape was arguably Ford’s most recognizable vehicle, but the 2013 model shucks the old, two-box shell and enters the new model year with a new look and new choices.
My test vehicle is the complete package of everything desirable in an Escape - a Titanium-trim model sporting desirable options and a spanky “ruby-red, tinted metallic” paint job.
This one also includes Ford’s 2.0 litre EcoBoost turbo engine, which I feel is the most desirable choice for the vehicle (also available are 1.6L and 2.5L four-cylinder powerplants). Ecoboost engines are doing great things for Ford in a number of its vehicles and in different displacements, showing off great power and an economical return on investment at the gas pump.
Mine is demonstrating its frugality so far (in fact, I seem to be beating the NRCanada fuel consumption numbers in urban use) and still managing to deliver on its power potential. The Titanium’s two-litre promises 240 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque (coming on at a relatively low 3000 rpm) and delivers it readily to the wheels, without noticeable lag or hesitation.
On paper, the new Ecoboost is actually torquier than the three-litre V6 offered in previous Escapes, and it feels a lot smoother thanks in part to a fluid, six-speed automatic transmission.
The new-look interior is sound-dampened and comfortable, and pleasant to look at and touch in the Titanium-trim package. A great driver’s seat - fully adjustable, with variable lumbar support – provides a comfortable perch and the elevated sightlines that are one of the big draws of a utility vehicle.
Steering mounted controls allow your hands to be kept on the wheel, and keyless start allows the key to be left in your pocket.
I’m growing more used to the voice-activated SYNC system and MyFordTouch interface, and I tell you, even if you aren’t planning on getting the highest-end Escape trim; at least get a demonstration of the features at your local dealer. Especially addictive are functional niceties like the power liftgate and the Parking Technology package (which in addition to the self-parallel-parking trick also adds blind-spot sensors and a rear-view camera).
The exterior was perhaps the greatest risk the company took in changing the Escape’s look to the new-look global platform – then again maybe not; the boxy exterior it formerly shared with Mazda’s Tribute was pretty dated and maybe not that attractive to begin with – but it does boast a better curb appeal with the 2013 sheetmetal.
Regular Autonet readers may recall our quick spin in the European version last year (the vehicle is sold in Europe as the ‘Kuga’), and the Euro-influence shows through in the design. Ford’s new grille and front-end treatment is showing up on a lot of the product being sold here (it has recently improved the look of the Fusion and Focus, for example).
Tailored for a more aerodynamic, sporty look with sweeping lines and more steeply raked windshield, the vehicle’s overall appeal is enhanced on my Titanium tester with larger 19-inch alloy wheels, roof rails and a rear spoiler.
The new generation of the best-selling ute comes off as an all-round winner, and does everything you might ask of a vehicle in its class; and any complaints I have at this point are minor.
The turbo Ecoboost recommends premium fuel, though if the economy works out as well at seems to be as I drive my test model around, the extra fuel cost should be offset. There are some hard plastics to be found on the console and under-dash, but really no more so than you’ll find in competitive vehicles.
Even the price isn’t overwhelming, and can be adjusted downward by opting for one of the lower trims (one could, for example leave out the optional panorama moonroof and save $1,750, though it adds a lot of ambience to the cabin).
This one, the ultimate Escape in Titanium trim with the aforementioned optional moonroof, parking package and spanky red paint, comes in at $41,849.
2013 Ford Escape
Trim level: Titanium 4WD
Price as tested (before taxes): $41,849
Options on test vehicle: power panorama roof ($1,750); parking technology package ($1500); MyFord Touch with satellite radio and nav system ($700); Ruby red metallic paint ($300).
Configuration: front engine/ all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 2.0L 4-cyl./ 6-spd automatic
Power/torque: 240 hp/ 270 lb.-ft.
Fuel (capacity): regular (57L)
Fuel economy ratings: 9.8 L/100km city; 6.9 L/100km hwy
Observed fuel economy: 8.2 L/100km over 362 km
Warranties: 3 years/ 60,000 km (basic); 5 years/ 100,000 km (powertrain)
Competitors: GMC Terrain; Honda CR-V; Kia Sorento; Subaru Forester; Toyota RAV4
Strengths: responsive and powerful for its size; snazzy new exterior; great fuel economy; competitive price
Weaknesses: cheap plastics in interior