The Ford Escape has been around for several years now and has become one of the automaker’s most popular models. So great is the demand for it that there are even waitlists for certain versions, particularly the hybrid. But the time to replace it with something more modern has come. Indeed, the Escape’s beginning to look its age and is in need of a complete mechanical overhaul if it wants to go toe-to-toe with its competitors and their sophisticated mechanics and sharp performances. As Ford no longer has a controlling interest in Mazda, the Escape has no common link with the CX-5 that was recently put on the market.
Much like the new Focus unveiled last year, Ford gave its Escape a serious upgrade to make it one of the most modern and technically advanced models on the market.
The previous generation Escape played the SUV card with its relatively square shape, reminiscent of a big 4X4, although its purpose was primarily urban. It’s clear that this is essentially a city car that can handle the occasional back road: no one’s pretending that the Escape has outstanding off-road capabilities. The vehicle’s silhouette is very contemporary and borrows many of its visual features from the Focus unveiled last year. What’s more, during our test drive, several people mistook the Escape for the Focus hatchback. Basically, it has a nice shape that shouldn’t go out of style for many years.
In the passenger compartment, I must say that I liked the dashboard, which also featured a trendy style. However, to my great surprise, most people who got in this vehicle had mostly negative things to say, such as: “They could have toned it down a bit. Sometimes, less is more.” Those sentiments notwithstanding, I haven’t changed my opinion. I believe that this presentation that some find so offensive right now will win people over with time.
On the other hand, while I liked its style, the layout of some of the controls and the MySync system didn’t exactly make my life easy during this test drive. It’s not always intuitive and you often have to press several buttons or controls to accomplish what you’d normally do with a button. That’s progress? But I must admit that the new MySync device is far easier to understand than that of the first generation. Also note that the quality of the materials in the passenger compartment is excellent as is the overall trim. As was the case on the Focus, I really liked the steering wheel and its chrome accents on the horizontal spokes. Still with the passenger compartment, the front seats are comfortable and offer adequate support. I should underline the fact that my test vehicle was a Titanium version equipped with practically everything that one could possibly order on this model, including leather upholstery. The back seats weren’t very comfortable, but the cargo hold is a nice size. The motorized hatch opening can be activated by placing your foot under the rear bumper. But this “open sesame” was very temperamental and didn’t always cooperate.
Power to burn
The new generation Escape uses a brand new platform, known as the C platform at Ford, which is also used on the new European Kuga. It’s very rigid and helps this model rank among the more technically sophisticated vehicles in its category. What’s more, three engines are available. Naturally, the base versions are sold with the 2.5-litre 168-hp engine that comes only with front-wheel drive. However, once you start to work your way up the ranks, buyers have a choice between two other four-cylinder, EcoBoost engines. The first is a 1.6-litre 173-horsepower, but those who need a compact SUV capable of pulling 3,500 pounds (1,588 kg) will be happy to learn that the version powered by 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine that develops 231 horses is able to meet their expectations. All these engines are paired with a six-speed automatic gearbox. These two engines can also be ordered with all-wheel drive. Don’t look for a hybrid engine, as this new generation doesn’t offer one. That’s reserved for the exclusively hybrid C-Max.
Our test vehicle came equipped with almost everything that one can be ordered on an Escape: back-up camera, panoramic sunroof, Active Park Assist, remote starter, MyKey programmable key, dual-zone climate control, the blind spot vehicle detection sensor, and so on. But in addition to all the accessories, the fact remains that the new Escape offers a ride that’s quite a bit more fun and surprisingly agile for its size, while the 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine provides responsive and linear performance. In fact, its only major flaw is its $37,000 price tag. Fortunately, the most affordable trim level in the line-up sells for less than $25,000. Phew!
|Test model||2013 Ford Escape|
|Trim level||Titanium 2.0 EcoBoost AWD|
|Price range||$21,499 - $37,499|
|Price as tested||$37,499|
|Warranty (basic)||3 years / 60,000 km|
|Warranty (powertrain)||5 years / 100,000 km|
|Options||Three layers of paint, Active Park Assist, BLIS blind spot sensor, back-up camera, navigation system|
|Competitive models||Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Compass, Kia Sportage, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Toyota RAV4, Volkswagen Tiguan|
|Fuel consumption||Good considering the power|
|Value for price||There are less expensive models in the line-up.|
|Styling||Well played, gentlemen of Ford|
|Comfort||Nothing to say, except for the rear bench|
|Performance||With 231 horses, can’t complain.|
|Overall||One of the leaders in the category.|