2013 Ford Escape makes traveling fun
By JEFF TAYLOR For Sun-Times Media June 8, 2012 3:39PM
2013 FORD ESCAPE
ENGINES: 1.6- and 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and 2.5-liter four-cylinder
TRANSMISSION: six-speed automatic with sport shift
DRIVETRAIN: front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive
FUEL ECONOMY: ranges from 22 city to 33 highway depending on engine
BASE PRICE: $23,995 to $31,195
AS TESTED: not available
Updated: July 12, 2012 12:45PM
With the passage of Memorial Day, the “official” start of the vacation season has begun. I tested the 2013 Ford Escape crossover that is vying to serve as a modern vacation cruiser.
For 2013, Escape machines will come in four flavors: S, SE, SEL and Titanium. Oddly enough, the popular hybrid version is not offered. I was able to test several of these versions.
According to Ford, “60 percent of Americans shopping for a vehicle this year will look at either a midsize car or small SUV, making Escape part of one of the most cross-shopped and fastest-growing segments in the auto industry.”
As with any hot segment, every automaker is angling for a piece. Ford’s research indicated buyers want more power and fuel economy unlike Honda, which indicated CR-V buyers were looking for fuel economy and added only 5 horsepower for 2013.
The entry-level Escape S comes with a carryover 168-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder and six-speed automatic from the previous generation. Mileage numbers are 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway. You can only get the S model with front-wheel drive, and options are not as extensive as upper-level versions.
The first model I tested was the SE featuring a new 178-horsepower 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder with direct injection. This engine has good power with plenty of guts to pass and climb hills. The 1.6-liter engine is also standard in SEL models. Besides the increase in horsepower and torque, the 1.6-liter boasts the best mileage of the three engines with 23 city/33 highway mpg.
Escape reaches those mileage figures via an active grille shutter system (1.6-liter EcoBoost and 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines) that reduces wind resistance. Grille slats are open when extra engine cooling air is required, like low-speed city driving. On the highway at steady speeds, the slats automatically close to improve aerodynamics and fuel efficiency.
The Escape’s biggest and best engine is the 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder (borrowed from Edge) that develops 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. The Titanium version with the 2.0-liter and many options makes the Escape a fun beach bomber. Fuel economy numbers are barely affected as the 2.0-liter checks in with 22 city/30 highway. Escapes with the 2.0-liter can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
All Escapes shift power to the front or all wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Sadly there are no shift paddles, just a sport-shift mode that seemed to have no influence. I did find the shift points to be well suited to the two turbo engines I tested, and the combination of shift points, engine smoothness and power makes you think you’re packing six under the hood.
On the road the AWD Escape functions in front-wheel drive until power needs to be shifted to the rear wheels (up to 100 percent).
Speaking of traction, the 2013 Escape rides and handles like no Escape before. The steering could have more feedback, braking is good and body roll is minimal. For 2013 Escape has shed its trucklike ride and look.
The sleek exterior design does tend to blend in with the pack, but visibility is good. Wheel choices range from 17-inch steel to 19-inch bright alloys.
Inside, the Escape has a flowing passenger-first design that really caters to occupants. I did not like the front seats that felt thin and not as supportive as the previous generation. The rear seats fold flat for better storage. The Escape can hold five, but four passengers work best.
As for technology, Escape is packed. Ford has begrudgingly revised the SYNC with MyFord Touch information system and it works better than the previous version, which Ford thought was fine.
I really liked the hands-free power lift-gate option that provides the driver (with key fob in pocket) quick and easy access to the cargo area with a swipe of his/her foot under the rear bumper.
Active park assist allows hands-free parallel parking with the press of a button after the system detects an available parallel parking space. I only had to control the gas and brake pedals.
Escape’s sensor-based blind-spot information system with cross-traffic alert sounds an alert when a vehicle is detected entering a blind spot. The cross-traffic alert is a great feature as it warns if traffic is detected approaching from the sides, like when you’re backing out of a parking space.
The 2013 Ford Escape is a whole new way to experience a summer vacation. Childhood trips in the family wagon were never this posh, technology laden or fuel efficient.
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