The 2013 model year marks the Ford Escape's first full redesign since its introduction in 2001. The popular model competes with the Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, to name just a few in the crowded compact SUV class. While the Escape previously had siblings from Mazda and the now-defunct Mercury, it now stands alone as the smaller of Ford's five-seat SUVs. The Ford Edge is midsize.
The Escape takes a styling direction different from the other Ford SUVs, sharing cues from the company's Fiesta and Focus cars instead. The 2013 grows only slightly, by just under 4 inches in length, and it has almost 3 inches' more wheelbase. The wheels range from 17 to 19 inches in diameter, and all are aluminum.
Interior dimensions are similar to the outgoing model's dimensions. The passenger volume is down 2 cubic feet, but the cargo volume is up 3 cubic feet behind the backseat and almost 1 cubic foot when the seats are folded. Ford's latest tech trick is an optional power liftgate that's activated by waving your foot under the rear bumper, so you don't have to dig for keys or press a button on the liftgate. The backseat has been updated to fold more easily, with one-touch collapsing head restraints and single-lever backrest release.
The cabin quality has improved, with a soft-touch dashboard, deeper armrest padding and hidden fasteners in storage compartments and the like. Front sport seats are a new option, featuring more prominent bolsters, leather trim and contrast stitching.
The Escape offers the Sync voice-activation system, which includes Bluetooth phone connectivity and integrated control of an MP3 player. Also included is MyFord Touch, which provides multiple means of controlling features. Ford says this is the latest iteration of MyFord Touch with faster reaction times and clearer labeling on the 8-inch touch-screen that's standard on SEL and Titanium trim levels. Lower-level Escapes rely solely on a 4-inch screen between the gauges, steering-wheel-mounted buttons and voice commands.
Other notable tech includes an optional active park assist feature that selects a parallel parking space large enough for the Escape and automatically steers into it. The option package also includes a backup camera, front and rear proximity sensors, and a blind spot warning system.
Under the Hood
The Escape's standard engine is an upgraded version of the existing 2.5-liter four-cylinder, which is projected to generate 168 horsepower. The biggest news is the introduction of two optional EcoBoost turbocharged engines: a 173-hp 1.6-liter and a 237-hp 2.0-liter, both also four-cylinders. The V-6 will not be continued. Ford says the 2013 Escape will increase gas mileage by "up to" 5 mpg over the 2012 model with the smaller EcoBoost option. (EPA estimates aren't available as of this writing.)
All the engines team with a six-speed automatic. Although it provides sequential manual shifting by means of a rocker switch on the gear selector, this isn't a dual-clutch transmission of the type used in the Fiesta and Focus. It's a conventional design. Driveline choices are front- or all-wheel drive.
The Escape includes the federally required antilock brakes, electronic stability system and frontal airbags. Also standard are updated side airbags: Seat-mounted airbags for the front occupants deploy lower, in the hip area, as well as the usual torso region and incorporate a vent that optimizes pressure depending on the person's height. There are also side curtains that protect front and rear occupants in a side impact or rollover.
The front seats' head restraints now adjust fore and aft as well as up and down, providing better protection in a rear-end collision.