LA Auto Show: 2013 Ford Escape
By Chris Haak
Ford has spilled the beans on its all-new 2013 Escape, and after more than a decade of following the same basic template (that is, cute-ute, car-based mechanicals wrapped around a traditional SUV shape), the all-new 2013 model completely turns to a new chapter in this vehicle’s evolution.
For starters, where the current-generation Escape has corners and right angles, the 2013 model has curves and bulges, as previewed by the award-winning Vertrek concept from this past January in Detroit. Not only does the new vehicle shares components of its architecture with Ford’s global Focus, but it also shares a good deal of the Focus’ design language in and out. For instance, the Escape’s trapezoidal grille is a clear tribute (not a Mazda Tribute, mind you) to the Focus, and its instrument panel and center stack designs are also clearly derived from the Focus, but with a more logical arrangement of buttons and controls (no doubt helped by there being slightly more real estate within the Escape to space things out a bit more).
Availalable in either front wheel drive or with intelligent all wheel drive, the entire engine lineup is new to the Escape. First, there’s a 2.5 liter naturally aspirated four cylinder that produces 168 horsepower and 167 lb-ft. Two EcoBoost four cylinders round out the lineup, with the economy-focused 1.6 liter EcoBoost four producing 173 horsepower and 177 lb-ft, and the performance-focused 2.0 liter EcoBoost four producing a solid 237 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque. All three engines are mated exclusively to a six-speed automatic. With the strongest engine, the 2.0 liter EcoBoost four, under its hood, the Escape is capable of towing up to 3,500 pounds. Oh, and as expected, the new engines are much more efficient than the old Escape’s engines, with an improvement of up to five miles per gallon (depending on engine). The Escape Hybrid is no more.
The interior gets Ford’s newly-updated MyFord Touch (which we have yet to experience in person, but which supposedly simplifies the interface and the home screen), and another cool unique-to-Ford feature is the ability to open the cargo hatch hands-free by just having the key fob in your pocket and swinging your foot under the rear bumper.
Ford hasn’t found it necessary to update the Escape in quite a while because the current model is still a very strong seller; its sales are up an impressive 31.4 percent year to date, to 206,896 through October 31. Any time a company updates a best seller, it runs the risk that it could kill the goose that laid the golden egg, so kudos to Ford for going in a non-conservative direction with the 2013 Escape. It would have been easy for Ford to pull a move like Honda did with its 2012 Civic, and like Toyota did with its 2012 Camry and stay with the tried-and-true formula at the expense of innovation.
Plus, moving the Escape to parallel the Europe-sold Kuga (and basing it on Focus mechanicals) allows the company to save considerable amounts of money on development costs and provides economies of scale when sourcing components globally.
While the design is not really breathtaking or aggressive, it’s handsome, shares the Focus family look, and economy and performance should both be very good (depending on engine choice to some degree). As long as pricing stays competitive, Ford should continue to have a winner on its hands.