2013 Escape: Ford’s compact SUV goes lux

May 2, 2012, 8:26 PM

For The Associated Press

(AP) – With European-style handling, luxury looks, surprising refinement and new features for 2013, Ford’s compact sport utility vehicle, the Escape, doesn’t seem like an Escape anymore.

The familiar boxy shape is replaced by a sleek, rich-looking exterior, and the Escape’s V-6, manual transmission and gasoline-electric hybrid model are gone.

Instead, every 2013 Escape comes with a six-speed automatic and a choice of three, gasoline-powered, four-cylinder engines.

Importantly, all three powerplants garner a minimum 30-miles-per-gallon-on-the-highway fuel economy rating from the federal government, and two of the three are turbocharged and deliver at least 184 foot-pounds of torque. In contrast, the only 2012 Escape with a fuel mileage rating of 30 mpg or more on the window sticker was the Escape Hybrid, which started at more than $30,000. 

Starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price, including destination charge, is $23,295 for a base, 2013 Escape S with 168-horsepower, naturally aspirated four cylinder, automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.

This base 2013 Escape is rated at 22/31 mpg in city/highway travel and includes air conditioning and cloth seats, with Ford’s Sync voice-activated entertainment system available as a $295 option.

Unfortunately, pricing goes up considerably from the base model, and the test Escape with four-wheel drive and top equipment and trim level called Titanium, plus options, topping out at more than $36,000. 

In between the base Escape and the top model are, thankfully, a number of choices _ all with two rows of seats providing seating for five. The lowest starting retail price for a 2013 Escape with one of Ford’s peppier, turbocharged engines is $25,895 for an SE with 178-horsepower four cylinder, automatic transmission, front-wheel drive and mileage rating of 23/33 mpg.

The lowest starting retail price for a four-wheel drive 2013 Escape is $27,645, and this is with the 178-horsepower, turbocharged four cylinder.

The Escape has many competitors, including the top-selling Honda CR-V with a starting MSRP, including destination charge, of $23,325 for a 2012 base model with 185-horsepower four cylinder, five-speed automatic and front-wheel drive. Among the CR-V’s standard features is a rearview camera. The 2012 Hyundai Tucson SUV has a starting retail price of $19,970 with 165-horsepower four cylinder, five-speed manual and front-wheel drive. A 2012 Tucson with six-speed automatic starts at $20,970.

Note that both the base CR-V and the base Tucson with automatic are rated at 23/31 mpg by the government, which is in line with the 2013 Escape models.

Ford’s re-engineered Escape is a sibling of the company’s Kuga, which is a compact crossover in Europe. This European heritage was one of the first impressions of the 2013 Escape test model. The vehicle felt solidly planted on the road, even on twisty mountain roads.

Weight shift from one side to the other during curves was well-managed and provided a more confident ride than that found in previous Escapes. In fact, there was little tippy feel, and road bumps came through mostly as mild vibrations.

To be sure, the Escape felt substantial and solid. It’s not exactly a heavy sensation, but even a base 2013 Escape weighs more than 3,500 pounds, which is 200 pounds more than a base CR-V and base Tucson.

Overall, the ride was pleasant and more refined than in earlier Escapes, even though the test, top-of-the-line Titanium trim model, rode on big, stylish, 19-inch wheels.

The tester had the most powerful of the four-cylinder engines _ a 240-horsepower, 2-liter, double overhead cam, turbocharged, four cylinder that, like other Ford four-cylinder turbos, carries the name EcoBoost. In fact, Ford’s larger SUV, the Edge, uses this 2-liter turbo four cylinder, too.

Premium fuel is recommended to get the maximum power, which includes 270 foot-pounds of torque at 3,000 rpm in the Escape.

In real world driving, though, this turbo didn’t send the Escape zooming forward in a rush. Rather, power was delivered smoothly but not instantaneously, even when the accelerator was suddenly pressed to the floor.

In more gentle acceleration, the test Escape, which weighed more than 3,700 pounds, moved comfortably through traffic, and the four-wheel disc brakes _ an upgrade from rear drums in the 2012 Escape _ worked capably.

Alas, fuel mileage in the tester averaged only 19.5 mpg in driving that was 70 percent in the city. So, it could travel not quite 300 miles on a single, 15.1-gallon tank, and the four-wheel drive tester didn’t meet the government rating of 21/28 mpg.

The interior was impressive. Premium materials, including nicer plastic on the sizable dashboard, gave an upscale feel. The optional, full leather trim on the test Escape seats helped, too.

Brightly illuminated gauges in front of the driver are uncomplicated, but Ford’s touch screen in the middle of the dashboard takes practice. A nice perk: The rearview camera’s picture is big on this sizable display screen, so drivers see clearly what’s behind them.

The new Escape is one of the few compact SUVs to offer a power, rear liftgate. Usually, these are found on larger, luxury models.

Ford’s power liftgate has a twist: A person can avoid pushing the key fob’s “open liftgate” button and instead sort of kick his or her foot under the rear bumper, where a sensor detects that the liftgate needs to open. It’s a fine idea, but with arms full of heavy pet supplies, I nearly fell on the pavement trying to kick my leg and keep my balance.

Another issue with the power liftgate: It goes fully upward each time, so in a parking garage, it struck the concrete beam overhead and then retracted a bit. The result: A small bump on the tailgate exterior.

The 2013 Escape is a bit longer and wider than its predecessor, and cargo space stretches to 68.1 cubic feet.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

Demonstrators stage a rally in front of the White House to celebrate President Joe Biden's plan to ...
Kevin Stone

Lawsuits keeping over 300,000 Arizonans from getting student loan relief

Lawsuits are preventing more than 300,000 Arizonans from having some or all of their student debt dismissed, the Biden administration said Friday.
14 hours ago
FILE -  A Goodyear tire sits on display at a tire shop on Feb. 12, 2014, in South Euclid, Ohio. A f...
Associated Press

Arizona lawyer subpoenaed in criminal investigation of Goodyear tires

A federal grand jury in Los Angeles is gathering evidence in a criminal investigation of Goodyear recreational vehicle tires.
2 days ago
Following days of rain, floodwaters cover streets in the Planada community of Merced County, Calif....
Associated Press

Atmospheric rivers in California boost water allocation for cities

Public water agencies in California will be getting more water from the state because of recent heavy rain.
2 days ago
(Brian Munoz/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP, File)...
Associated Press

FDA declines to regulate CBD; calls on Congress for fix

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday there are too many unknowns about CBD products to regulate them as foods or supplements under the agency’s current structure and called on Congress to create new rules for the massive and growing market. The marijuana-derived products have become increasingly popular in lotions, tinctures and foods, while their […]
2 days ago
FILE - An employee works in the battery assembly hall at the BMW Spartanburg plant in Greer, S.C., ...
Associated Press

US economy slowed but still grew at 2.9% rate last quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy expanded at a 2.9% annual pace from October through December, ending 2022 with momentum despite the pressure of high interest rates and widespread fears of a looming recession. Thursday’s estimate from the Commerce Department showed that the nation’s gross domestic product — the broadest gauge of economic output — […]
2 days ago
(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)...
Associated Press

Pope Francis discusses his health, critics and future of papacy

In his first interview since the death of retired Pope Benedict XVI, Francis tells The Associated Press he plans to continue for as long as he can as bishop of Rome
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
2013 Escape: Ford’s compact SUV goes lux