Compact utility vehicles are all the rage these days, and in recent weeks (and months) many have graced my test driveway. Automakers near and far are seeking ways to stand out from one another in a bid for the consumer’s attention and at Ford that is certainly no different.
For 2013, Big Blue Oval has completely overhauled its popular little Escape (that is still deems a sport utility vehicle), updating not only styling but powertrains as well. Three engines are now offered in the Escape, two of them EcoBoost turbo models.
Our recent tester arrived sort of “middle-of-the-road” in SE front-wheel-drive fashion sporting the 1.6-liter EcoBoost four. All powertrains include a new six-speed automatic gearbox and all models offer at least 30 mpg on the highway. I enjoyed the 178hp and 184 lb. ft. or torque generated in our little guy even finding engine response surprisingly sprite on the rare occasion I really pushed it.
As for road manners, think of the new Escape as an oversized Focus, the platform it is based on. Escape basically takes the Focus five-door to the next level offering better ground clearance and interior space.
Technology in the new Escape is cutting edge for the automaker, as the cute-ute offers new Curve Control to rein the vehicle in when pushing things too hard in turns, while Torque Vectoring Control allowing drivers to open things up a bit in the twisties.
Inside Ford offers the latest version of its MyFord Touch and SYNC systems although it seemed to struggle a bit with my iPhone 5 and finding my favorite Sirius satellite radio channel. I would gladly trade MyFord Touch for standard rearview camera and blindspot detection, each of which is available but did not find its way into our tester. And that center stack reminds me of something out of Battlestar Gallactica or something.
The vehicle itself is easy to drive, as have been most of the small utilities I’ve tested lately. Automakers are getting it right in this segment, providing buyers with a fair amount of style and performance while offering value and usability.
Ford starts 2013 Escape pricing at $22,470, with our SE tester arriving at $27,860. EPA fuel rating for this 1.6-liter EcoBoost is 23 mpg city and 33 mpg highway – that’s about as good as it gets in this segment.
The 2013 Ford Escape is nicely styled and appointed and offers a pleasant driving experience despite a bit of wind noise at speed. The changes over its predecessor are so dramatic it cannot be compared to earlier Escape models, and it’s definitely worth a look by anyone shopping this segment.