More stylish, more versatile, more efficient and loaded with innovative class-exclusive technology, the all-new 2013 Ford Escape promises to make the compact SUV segment an even more intensely competitive battleground. Sharing key design cues with the Ford Vertrak Concept that debuted in Detroit last January, the new Escape will go on sale in the U.S. next summer and spawn a Ford Kuga variant that will launch in other world markets at a later date.

Although Hybrid and V6 variants depart, the 2013 Escape will offer a trio of impressive four-cylinder engines starting with a new lighter, more efficient version of the 171-horsepower/2.5-liter used in the current Escape upgraded to deliver better low-end torque and a projected two mpg gain in its fuel economy figures. The biggest news underhood involves the availability of two new EcoBoost engines that use turbocharging, direct injection and twin independent variable camshaft timing to balance performance with economy.

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Making its first U.S. appearance is a new 1.6-liter that makes 173 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque while its larger 2.0-liter kin that turns out 237 horses and 250 lb-ft of twist will be the range-topping alternative. All three engines are backed by specifically calibrated six-speed automatic transmissions that offer SelectShift manual-style control. While final EPA stats have not been released, Ford expects the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine to deliver best-in-class overall fuel economy and hold up to a five mpg advantage over the outgoing Escape.

Putting an SUV-style spin on Ford's current exterior design language, the 2013 Escape displays a bold but clearly aero-optimized look that matches edge with contour. In addition to far more dynamic qualities in its fascia sculpting, pillar treatments, greenhouse elements and front/rear lamp designs, the new Escape boasts bigger, bolder wheel arches and more substantial wheel/tire fitments. Models with EcoBoost engines go one step beyond and add Ford's mileage-enhancing active grille shutter system to the mix.

Inside, the completely redesigned cabin of the 2013 Ford Escape is larger and more richly appointed, with expressively dramatic design flourishes set off by an even higher level of build quality. The contemporary character is complemented a variety of new premium features highlighted by an enhanced version of SYNC and the latest updated MyFord Touch infotainment system that can be had with or without navigation systems and a new Sony premium audio package. On a more utilitarian level, the 2013 Escape can easily change from offering comfortable accommodations for five to being an even more capable hauler thanks to its new easy fold-flat rear seat that allows the expanded cargo area to transition from 34.3 to 68.1 cu ft. A lower liftover makes loading/unloading easier while a new optional hands-free power liftgate can be activated by a mere foot gesture beneath the rear bumper area.

While basic vehicle dynamics have been enhanced across the entire lineup, the 2013 Ford Escape also features a new Curve Control system similar to the one introduced on the current Explorer teamed with an advanced Torque Vectoring Control first seen on the new Focus. Standard on all models, the industry-first pairing of this high-tech twosome adds a new level of confidence to the Escape's overall handling on any road surface. For the ultimate in surefootedness, the Escape also is available with a new Intelligent 4WD system that uses an electromagnetic clutch system to instantaneously meter torque to the axle that can put it to best use, whether you're on or off road. For those more concerned with closer encounters, the 2013 Ford Escape also will offer a new parking technology package that Active park assist, the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert, front park assist, rear park assist, a rear-view camera and rain-sensing wipers.

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