After remaining basically unchanged for 11 years, an all-new, totally redesigned Escape will hit Ford's nine showrooms in Puerto Rico this August.
Completely new from the ground up, the 2013 Ford Escape, which shares its underpinnings with the Ford Focus, aims to retain its crown as the best-selling sport utility vehicle (SUV) in the U.S. by boasting a host of unique features and clever technologies.
According to Ford, 60% of U.S. consumers shopping for a vehicle this year will look at either a midsize car or a small SUV—making Escape part of one of the most cross-shopped and fastest-growing segments in the auto industry.
The new Escape is expected to deliver a projected "best fuel economy" in the compact SUV segment, improved driving dynamics to make the on-road experience more engaging, and a new Intelligent 4WD (four-wheel-drive) System that provides even better traction off-road.
RAISING THE BAR IN THE COMPACT SUV SEGMENT
In addition to its sleek, new design, better interior materials, improved fit & finish and more cargo volume behind the first and second rows than the outgoing model, the 2013 Ford Escape raises the bar with 11 new exclusive features not found in any other compact SUV.
These include an optional hands-free power liftgate. A gentle kicking motion under the center of the rear bumper activates, unlocks and raises the liftgate when the driver has the Escape key fob.
An improved Sync with MyFord Touch offers multiple ways for consumers to manage and control information through voice commands, menus accessed through controls on the steering wheel, touchscreens, buttons or knobs. The upgraded system includes a new look, making phone, navigation, entertainment and climate controls easier to use.
Parallel parking for the Escape is virtually stress-free with active park assist. With the press of a button, the system detects an available parallel parking space and automatically steers the vehicle into it.
Maneuvering parking lots and traveling open roadways becomes even safer and less stressful with Escape's sensor-based BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert. BLIS sounds an alert when a vehicle is detected entering an Escape blind spot.
The all-new Escape is the first SUV to combine class-exclusive technology to automatically slow the vehicle when it's cornering too fast (Curve Control) or help accelerate through a turn (Torque Vectoring Control).
Its Intelligent 4WD System helps deliver outstanding handling on pristine pavement as well as in adverse conditions, along with excellent traction off-road.
The 2013 Ford Escape is offered in four trim levels: S, SE, SEL and the top-of- the-line Titanium. The SE, SEL and Titanium models will be available with either front- or four-wheel drive.
Starting prices in the mainland U.S. range from $23,295 for the Escape S to $31,195 for the top-of- the-line Escape Titanium. Prices for Puerto Rico weren't available at press time.
SPIRITED PERFORMANCE, IMPROVED FUEL ECONOMY
Ford's next-generation Escape SUV will offer the automaker's broadest nameplate range of turbocharged EcoBoost, inline, direct injected, four-cylinder engine choices yet.
Strong fuel economy comes from either the available 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine (rated at 178 horsepower and 184 foot-pounds of torque), and a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine (delivering 240 horses and 270 foot-pounds of torque), replacing the V6 engine in the outgoing model.
The latter two new EcoBoost engines accompany a revised 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine with 168 horsepower and 170 foot-pounds of torque.
All three engines are mated to a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission, which allows drivers wanting a more hands-on experience to manually control gear selection through buttons on the left side of the shifter.
The 2013 Ford Escape hits the Puerto Rico market in August with the best estimated fuel economy numbers in the compact crossover class. These figures are as much as five miles per gallon (mpg), or 25%, better than the previous Escape, giving the model an advantage in the tight race with crossovers a half-size smaller.
With its base 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, Ford estimates fuel economy will be rated at 22 mpg city, 31 mpg on the highway.
The smaller 1.6-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder is pegged at 24 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway—the best-ever numbers for the Escape lineup, save for the now-discontinued Hybrid model, and tied with ratings for the smaller Hyundai Tucson.
The most powerful model, the 2.0-liter, turbo four, is listed at 22 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway.
Also aiding fuel economy is Escape's sleeker design, which is nearly 10% more aerodynamic than the outgoing model.
Using advanced software and sensors, the Escape's new Intelligent 4WD System analyzes data from 25 external signals, including wheel speed, accelerator pedal position and steering wheel angle, assessing road conditions and driver input 20 times faster than the blink of an eye.
The system takes pre-emptive actions by adding and subtracting torque, as needed, through an electromagnetic clutch.
During a 150-mile media test drive through the twisting, rural roads of Marín County in Northern California, the nearly fully optioned Titanium model, with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine (without the panoramic roof), left us convinced the new Escape has no links with the outgoing model.
The exceptional ride and handling were proof enough that this Escape is almost worthy of a new nameplate. The truck-like motions of the prior version are a thing of the past.
With its Focus-derived underpinnings, this new Escape really does feel more like a grown-up version of Ford's compact car, with a tightly damped ride and weighty, fast steering. Its vastly improved interior can now compete neck and neck against its Japanese and Korean rivals.