2013 Ford Escape Review

2013 Ford Escape - Sleek new skin gives Escape fresh appeal.


Vehicle Tested
2013 Ford Escape Titanium AWD
Base Price: $32,120
At-Tested Price: $33,910
Built in Louisville, Kentucky.

Parking Technology Package
Blind-Spot Detection System
Active Park Assist
Rear-View Camera System

Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter I4
Transmission: Six-Speed Automatic
Drive Wheels: All-Wheel Drive

Sporting boxy, traditional styling for more than a decade, Ford's strong-selling compact SUV is completely redesigned for 2013. The swoopy new '13 Escape is slightly larger and heavier than the model it replaces, but still seats only five passengers and slots in Ford's lineup as the smallest SUV-type vehicle. Competitors include the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Compass, Kia Sportage, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Rogue. Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4 and Volkswagen Tiguan.

Escape is available in S, SE, SEL, and line-topping Titanium models. The S is only available with front-wheel drive, but all other models come with front- or all-wheel drive. Three engines are offered. S comes with a carryover 2.5-liter four cylinder that's rated at 168 horsepower. SE and SEL come standard with a turbocharged 1.6-liter  four that has 173 horsepower. Standard on the Titanium and optional on SE and SEL is a 2.0-liter turbo four that makes 231 horsepower (240 with premium-grade gasoline). Regardless of engine, the sole transmission is a six-speed automatic. Maximum towing capacity is 3500 pounds.

Standard safety features include antilock four-wheel disc brakes, stability control, tire-pressure monitoring system and dual-front, front-side, curtain-side and driver-knee airbags. Additional available safety features include blind-spot alert, cross-traffic alert, front- and rear-obstacle-detection system, and rear-view camera.

The S lists for $22,470 and includes air conditioning. Tilt-telescope steering wheel with radio controls, cruise control, height-adjustable driver seat, center console, split-folding rear seat, power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player with digital-media player connection, variable-intermittent wipers, rear defogger, rear wiper/washer, floormats, theft-deterrent system, rear spoiler and 235/55R17 tires.

Front-drive SE starts at $25,070 and adds to the S keypad entry, satellite radio, Sync (services and assistance), USB port, voice recognition, Bluetooth cell-phone connection, compass, outside-temperature indicator, automatic headlights, rear privacy glass, fog lights and alloy wheels.

Front-drive SEL is $27,870 and adds to the SE dual-zone automatic climate controls, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather upholstery, heated front seats, ten-way power driver seat with lumbar adjustment, memory system (driver seat, mirrors), heated power mirrors, automatic day/night rearview mirror, illuminated visor mirrors and 235/50R18 tires.

Titanium starts at $30,370 with front-wheel drive and adds to SEL rear-obstacle-detection system, keyless access and starting, Sony sound system, HD radio, remote engine start, 110-volt power outlet, cargo cover, power liftgate, roof rack, HID headlights and 235/45R19 tires.

All-wheel drive adds $1750. Options include hands-free parallel parking, rain-sensing wipers, navigation system with real-time traffic information and My Ford Touch vehicle control system. Escape is built in Louisville, Kentucky and has a destination charge of $825.

Get Up and Go  Offering three engines was a wise choice and allows Escape to appeal to more compact SUV buyers. Though we haven't had the opportunity to evaluate the base 2.4-liter engine, in the past it hasn't proven to be the smoothest or most powerful in the class, but it gets the job done. It's only offered in the price-leading S.

The two turbo motors are much more entertaining. The 1.6-liter in the SE and SEL will push Escape from 0 to 60 mph in about nine seconds. That's par for the class and probably all of the performance that most buyers will need -- though it does feel a little slow off the line and gets winded in highway passing opportunities.

The 2.0-liter turbo feels substantially more powerful and it should as it's also used in the significantly larger and heavier Ford Edge and Explorer. When prodded the engine will push the Escape from 0 to 60 mph in about 7 seconds. That's downright fast for the class. Like the 1.6, the 2.0 feels a little sleepy off the line, but once moving acceleration is impressive. It's obviously the engine of choice for the lead foot crowd.

EPA ratings for the two turbo motors are surprisingly good. When equipped with all-wheel drive, the 1.6 comes in at 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway and the 2.0 nets 21/28. Both sets of numbers are impressive for the class. Regular-grade gasoline is OK for either motor, but best fuel economy and performance will be achieved with premium-grade fuel.

Driven with a light throttle foot, the 2.0-liter equipped Titanium averages about 25 mpg overall. Throw in a heavy dose of highway driving and you'll push that average close to 28 mpg. If you spend all of your time commuting around the city, expect economy to drop into the low 20s or high teens.

On the Road  The previous-generation Escape was the boxy SUV that drove like a car and the 2013 model is no different. The suspension does an excellent job of absorbing bumps - big or small. Step up to the Titanium and its larger wheels and tires and stiffer suspension and the ride grows firmer, but never unsettling. Perhaps the biggest difference between the Titanium and lessor models is the way Escape rides on bumpy roads, where the Titanium remains composed and SEs and SELs bounce and bob a bit.

When the road grows twisty, the new Escape, despite its size and weight increase, feels slightly more nimble and agile than the model it replaces. The steering is still devoid of road feel and has a sloppy on-center feeling, but at least it firms up in quick changes of direction. Body lead is most noticeable in S and SE models, and fairly controlled in SEL and Titanium. The brake pedal is easy to modulate and the brakes have good stopping power.

Escape is surprisingly quiet on the highway. Around down, you mostly hear the engine run through the gear in acceleration but will also be pleasantly surprised by Escapes hushed interior. At times the sport-tuned tires on the Titanium kick up a racket, but that's only on rough and grooved concrete pavement.

Behind the Wheel  Ford's designers upped the ante with a handsome and functional interior that features high-grade materials that are a notch above most others in the class. Drivers face two large and easy-to-read gauges for engine and vehicle speed with a nice color video screen in between.

The center console houses radio and climate controls. In models so equipped, MyFord Touch dominates the center console. It blends Sync, radio, climate and vehicle controls it a large voice- and touch-activated video-screen. In theory, MyFord Touch is designed to simplify operation of audio, navigation and climate control systems but it takes a lot of training until operation becomes natural. In addition, small glitches cause the climate or audio systems to stop functioning until you restarted the vehicle. Thankfully, it's a software-driven computer and as Ford refines the operating system, the vehicle can be updated in a matter of seconds. Let's hope those upgrades come soon.

Front bucket seats are adult size and quite comfortable. Headroom is generous and leg room acceptable. Like in the previous Escape, the seating position is upright and chair like. Visibility is good to all directions and electronic aids like blind-spot and cross traffic alert are quite helpful. Also available is Ford's parallel park assist. It works as advertised and produces a perfect parallel park every time. A worthwhile feature if you live in an urban area.

Rear seats have adult head space and adequate knee and foot space. If you move the front-seats up a bit, knee and foot room become quite acceptable. Seats are flat and lack side-to-side support but comfortable on long trips.

Cargo space is impressive for the class and the rear seat backs fold quite easily. Another nice feature is the bumper-sensor that will open or close the rear hatch with a pass of the foot -- a feature that no one asked for comes in handy when loading or unloading. Interior storage is great with lots of cubbies and bins throughout.

Bottom Line  Escape got bigger, heavier, more powerful and more expensive in its 2013 redesign. I addition Ford tossed in a heavy dose of technology and safety features. The 1.6-liter turbo engine offers great pep and fantastic fuel economy. Opting for the Titanium and the 2.0 turbo brings real performance and gobs of features, but also a hefty price tag.

There are quite a few great choices in the compact crossover field and the new Escape is a worthy competitor that offers a choice of very fuel-efficient engines. Don't be dissuaded by MyFord Touch. The idea behind it is quite sound and Ford will eventually get the software right. Plus, if you want you can avoid the system all together and opt for the base climate control and sound system -- and save a few bucks in the trade.

Specifications 2013 Ford Escape Titanium AWD
4-door wagon
Turbocharged DOHC I4
Wheelbase, in.
Size, liters/cu. in.
2.0 / 122
Length, in.
Horsepower240 @ 5500
Width, in.72.4
Torque (lb.-ft.) 270 @ 3000
Height, in.66.3Transmission6-Speed Automatic
Weight, lbs.
21 city / 28 highway
Cargo Capacity, cu. ft.

Fuel Capacity, gal.
Seating Capacity
3 years / 36,000 miles
Front Head Room, in.
5 years / 60,000 miles
Front Leg Room, in.
5 years / Unlimited miles
Second-Row Head Room, in.
Free Roadside Assistance
5 years / 60,000 miles
Second-Row Leg Room, in.
Free Scheduled Maintenance

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.