For the past 12 seasons, the Ford Escape has proven a popular choice with buyers of entry-priced wagons. In car terms, 12 years is a lifetime — or two lifetimes, even — so the arrival of a successor to one of the company’s top sellers is way overdue.
With an impressive sales history on its side, it’s important that the Blue Oval automaker get it right with the soon-to-arrive 2013 Escape.
According to Ford’s own statistics, the Escape and its ilk are exactly the type of conveyance that many folks are contemplating for their next vehicle purchase.
Accordingly, the new Escape presents a clean-sheet design-and-content approach to satisfy the needs of multi-continent customers (it’s called the Kuga in Europe and elsewhere).
The sleeker look is radically different from the outgoing Escape’s boxiness, which would otherwise mean a reduction in interior room. But with slightly larger dimensions overall, including an extra seven centimetres between the front and rear wheels, the result is greater rear-seat room plus slightly more passenger and cargo volume with the back seat in place or folded flat.
The Escape’s “world-car” approach should play well in North America where most vehicles in its class look more like tall passenger cars.
Given the highly competitive small utility category with the likes of the Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-5 and Kia Sportage, the Escape’s advanced mechanicals and handsome looks should keep it relevant for at least another dozen years.
And with a $23,000 base price, it’s new style and technology that’s affordable.
The Escape’s new “Intelligent” all-wheel-drive system is available on both turbocharged models. According to Ford, it continually assesses road conditions and driver inputs “about 20 times faster than the blink of an eye” and can shift up to 100 per cent of the available power to either the front or rear wheels for maximum grip.
The Escape is the first Ford to incorporate Torque Vectoring Control and Curve Control. The idea is to distribute the correct amount of power to each wheel when cornering so that the vehicle sticks to the intended path. A display screen keeps you informed as to where the power is being directed.
Ford has advanced powerplant choices and has done so without resorting to a V6 option. Base front-wheel-drive models run with a 168-horsepower 2.5-litre four-cylinder, while front- and all-wheel-drive SE and SEL designations use a 173-horsepower 1.6-litre turbocharged “EcoBoost” four-cylinder.
2013 Ford Escape
• Type. Four-door, front- /all-wheel-drive compact tall wagon.
• Engine (hp): 2.5-litre DOHC I4 (168); 1.6-litre DOHC I4, turbocharged (173); 2.0-litre DOHC I4, turbocharged (237).
• Base Price (incl. destination): $23,000.