Since 2001 when it debuted, the Ford Escape was the top selling compact SUV, picking up on the winning formula begat by the original Explorer.
Times have changed and truck-based compact SUVs have been swamped by a deluge of car-based crossovers, or CUVs, available today in seemingly every price range.
Ford already has the Edge CUV, but the company realized that not only was the brand name Escape golden but consumers might also want something a little smaller and using less fuel.
Not that the Edge is all that much bigger at about six inches longer with 45 more horses from a 3.5-litre V6, but the Escape is also 400 lb lighter.
Passenger volume of the Escape is 98.1 cu ft, while the Edge is 108.4 cu ft ≠ not much difference as I see it.
When I picked up the Escape I honestly thought it was a mid-size CUV when I looked at it. It’s all part of the trend of cars and trucks growing in size.
But as they get bigger, the cost of operation is decreasing at the same time, resulting in the consumer getting more for less.
Thus we have the truly all-new Escape for 2013 that shares literally nothing with the out-going model except an engine on the base model and the Ford badge on the grille.
While there is one transmission, a six-speed automatic with SelectShift sequential manual shift, there are no less than three engines starting with (as noted) a 2.5-litre inline four-cylinder on the base S producing 168 hp and 170 lb/ft of torque. The S is only sold in front-wheel-drive (FWD).
The SE features the 1.6-litre EcoBoost inline four-cylinder engine making 178 hp and 184 lb/ft of torque in either FWD or all-wheel-drive (AWD).
EcoBoost is Ford’s use of turbocharging and leading-edge technology such as variable valve timing and direct fuel injection for reduced fuel consumption but with the power of a larger displacement normally aspirated engine.
On the SEL and Titanium (as tested) the EcoBoost four-cylinder is a 2.0-litre unit with 240 hp and 270 lb/ft of torque. The SEL is available in FWD and AWD while the Titanium is fitted with AWD only.
In terms of fuel consumption, the Titanium in FWD format gets 9.5/6.7L/100 km (30/42 mpg) city/highway, while the AWD scores 9.8/6.9L/100 km (29/41 mpg) city/highway. Interestingly, the federal environmental stewardship tax on the Titanium is $30 when it is usually about $100.
Although the engine may be small in terms of size, EcoBoost gives it the equivalent power of a V6, thus the tow rating in up to 1,588 kg (3,500 lb).
In terms of cargo volume, there are 971 litres (34.3 cu ft) behind the second row split/fold rear seat and 1,920 litres (67.8 cu ft) behind the front seats.
Tested here is the top-of-the-line Titanium which leaves no Ford option unplumbed and part of the $37,499 base price which included the Kodiak Brown Metallic paint.
Along with strides made in fuel consumption, electronics and materials, paint is often overlooked. But on this Escape the deep, rich brown was, as far as I could tell, free of imperfections. Hard to believe it was a mass production paint job, but the proof was literally right before my eyes.
Speaking of electronics, the tester came with the MyFord Touch infotainment system with satellite radio and navigation that is an optional ($700) part of the Ford SYNC suite of driver/passenger aids.
While it does all the things you’d expect from a navi/sound/info system, it also recognizes thousands of voice commands. For instance, you can tell it to change the radio station, get someone on the phone, or set the climate control.
At $1,500, another option was the Parking Technology Package, again with things you might expect such as Blind Spot Detection and rear backup camera. But it also includes the Auto Park System which does just that.
Pull up to a parallel parking spot and activate the system and it sizes the space up, and if big enough, works the steering and brakes to tuck you in.
Lastly on the amenities side, I think the sensor under the rear bumper that detects when you swipe your foot beneath it and automatically opens the rear liftgate is pure genius.
No more fumbling for the keys with two arm loads of groceries.
I covered close to 600 km in the Escape on mostly major highways, but there were a lot of back roads as well.
Ford’s AdvanceTrac stability/traction control system comes with Curve Control that can slow you down as much as 16 km/h in one second if it senses you are entering a bend going too fast.
Also part of the system is Roll Stability Control and optionally available is a trailer towing package included sway control that reduces engine speed and starts putting on the brakes when it senses trouble.
Because you sit slightly higher, the driver’s view forward and to the side is good but it is greatly aided by the blind spot system. When you pass another vehicle, it flashes until you are well ahead and then you can pull back into a slower lane and see what you are doing all the time.
As for the AWD system fitted, I couldn’t tell you when and where grip was going because it is that seamless.
As noted, ‘base’ price for the Titanium Escape was $37,499. With the above mentioned options and a few more such as leather seating ($750) and the power panorama sunroof ($1,759) total options were $4,830 bringing the all-in cost to $42,329, not including the $1,500 shipping fee.
Considering all the amenities, the price is highly attractive compared to some of the import luxury compact CUVs and I would definitely include the Titanium in the luxury class.
I could never have said that about the previous generation Escape, but it shows how Ford, despite being more than a century old, has not let itself lag.
Have you driven a Ford lately?
You just might want to try the 2013 Escape.
Ford Escape Titanium 2013
Body Style: Compact crossover vehicle (CUV).
Drive Method: front-engine, front-/all-wheel-drive.
Engine: 2.5-litre inline four-cylinder (168 hp, 170 lb/ft); 1.6-litre turbocharged inline four-cylinder (178 hp, 184 lb/ft); as tested, 2.0-litre turbocharged inline four-cylinder (240 hp, 270 lb ft)
Fuel Consumption: Titanium AWD, 9.8/6.9L/100 km (29/41 mpg) city/highway
Cargo Volume: 971 litres (34.3 cu ft) behind rear seat; 1,920 litres (67.8 cu ft) behind front seats
Tow Rating: 1,588 kg (3,500 lb)
PRICE: Titanium base $37,499, as tested $42,329 not including $1,500 destination fee