By Jason Allan - Updated Date: 5/25/2012
All-new and totally rethought for 2013, Ford's compact crossover SUV is now one of the segment's style leaders, a fuel-efficiency expert and a total tech geek. Highlights include a choice of impressive engines, athletic suspension tuning and an updated version of the MyFord Touch infotainment system. But the first feature buyers will want to show their friends is a power liftgate they can open and close by waving a foot under the rear bumper. Compact SUV shoppers looking for maximum affordability or roominess will want to look elsewhere, but the 2013 Ford Escape is as a must-see for everyone else.You'll Like This Car If...
Standout styling, class-leading fuel economy and a robust technology package are three reasons to include the new Escape on your small-SUV shopping list.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you and your passengers like to stretch out, or if you really need the utility of a compact SUV – not just the raised seating position or added bulk – you might find the Escape a bit tight for your liking.What's New for 2013
Flaunting not just a new look but a complete character overhaul, the 2013 Ford Escape is even newer than most all-new cars.Driving It Driving Impressions
The new Ford Escape is the sporty compact car of compact SUVs – a title it shares with the new Mazda CX-5. Ford's recent cars have impressed with European-like driving dynamics and feel, and the new Escape continues the trend. When outfitted with the 240-horsepower engine, there's not a competitor that could keep up. Fortunately, the characteristics that contribute to the high fun-factor also help make the Escape a pleasure to drive to the store and the office. The 1.6- and 2.0-liter EcoBoost engines are terrific, both delivering smooth, ready power around town, effortless cruising on the highway and – especially the 2.0 engine – plenty of passing power. It isn't the softest-riding entry in the segment, but most will find it perfectly comfortable. The 2013 Ford Escape is arguably the best-driving compact SUV out there, but the styling, technology and fuel economy are what really set it apart.Favorite Features
When your hands are full of shopping bags, furniture or man things, you can just wave your foot under the rear bumper and the liftgate opens automatically. It's Escape sign language for "open sesame."
For teen drivers who always wanted a Big Brother, MyKey lets parents designate a key that will limit top speed, limit audio volume or even disable the audio system altogether until the seatbelts are buckled.
The inside of the 2013 Ford Escape boasts such an impressive collection of materials, design and available features that it can feel a class above. Don't try to pass it off as a mid-size SUV, though, because the Escape's interior is among the category's smaller cabins.Exterior
The compact SUV segment is definitely developing a greater sense of style, and the 2013 Ford Escape furthers the trend. Exterior highlights that distinguish upper-tier Escape models include HID headlamps, fog lights, body-color mirrors and trim, dual chrome exhaust tips and big 19-inch wheels (which will eventually need to be re-wrapped in expensive 19-inch tires).Notable Standard Equipment
At its base price of $23,295, the 2013 Ford Escape S features a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine matched with a 6-speed automatic transmission, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/Aux sound system, air conditioning, steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, the parent-friendly MyKey system, and a full complement of airbags and electronic safety features. Base model compromises include covered steel wheels and black plastic exterior trim elements.Notable Optional Equipment
A fully loaded 2013 Ford Escape Titanium can reach all the way past $37,000, but with enough cool features to embarrass many luxury cars. In addition to a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, 4-wheel drive, leather seats and a panoramic moonroof, a top-tier Escape offers blind-spot warning, automatic parallel parking, an 8-inch touchscreen, navigation, Sync with MyFord Touch, and a liftgate that opens with a wave of your foot. You could get the new Acura RDX for the same money, but you wouldn't have as many cool features to play with.Under the Hood
The 2013 Ford Escape is the only compact SUV with a choice of three engines. It would be easier to recommend the excellent 240-horsepower 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine if the 178-horsepower 1.6-liter version weren't more affordable, more efficient, just as smooth, and still plenty powerful for most. The base 2.5-liter engine is probably just fine – we haven't driven the latest iteration – but we'd buy a different compact SUV before buying the base Escape S with which that engine is paired. All three engines are paired with a responsive 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control, driving either the front wheels (FWD) or all four (4WD). If you want 4WD you'll have to choose one of the EcoBoost engines. And if you want the Escape's full towing capacity of 3,500 pounds, you're into the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine (and the towing package eliminates the hands-free liftgate option).
168 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
170 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA estimated city/highway mpg: 22/31
1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
178 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
184 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm
EPA estimated city/highway mpg: 23/33 (FWD), 22/30 (AWD)
2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
240 @ 5,500 rpm
270 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
EPA estimated city/highway mpg: 22/30 (FWD), 21/28 (AWD)
The 2013 Ford Escape S starts at $23,295, but that's with the least desirable of its three engine choices, black plastic exterior trim and covered steel wheels. Stepping up to the Escape SE remedies those shortcomings and adds things like Sync infotainment, but now you're at $25,895 and two to three thousand higher than the better-outfitted Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 base models. At the other end of the price spectrum, a fully loaded Escape Titanium will top out at more than $37,000. While that's almost $7,000 more than a loaded CR-V, it also includes a lot more power and technology. Looking down the road, we expect the new Escape to perform significantly better than its predecessor in the resale market. In other words, you'll get more of your money back when it comes time to trade or sell.