To say the all-new 2013 Ford Escape is important to Ford is like saying Peyton Manning might be of some use to the Denver Broncos. Ford has sold more than 2 million of these little SUVs since its launch in 2000. It fights month-on-month with its archrival from Honda, the CR-V, for top sales honors. It's a necessity for Ford, especially in this era of soaring fuel prices, that the Escape continues to be a top performer.
So don't mess with a good thing, right? Wrong. With the 2013 Ford Escape set to arrive at dealers in May, the brand will unleash the first truly all-new Escape since the original. The global Escape (called the Kuga in some markets) is now based on the new Focus platform, and nearly every nut, bolt and body panel is new on this rig.
Unlike the original Escape, with its clean but very traditional two-box design, Ford's Kinetic philosophy now stands at the forefront of the Escape's message, with an in-your-face trapezoidal grille, rising beltline, sloping roof line and fancy head- and taillights, all of which make the outgoing Escape look like a prude school girl by comparison.
While styling sells, it's the engines that move you, and the 2013 Ford Escape has three from which to choose, two boasting the name EcoBoost — that's turbocharging to the rest of us.
The Focus Giveth The Escape's overall length is increased by 3.4 inches and it rides on a wheelbase that's some 2.8 inches longer than the 2012 Escape. An extra 1.3 inches of width combined with a 1.6-inch lower overall height helped the Ford design team hone the sporty shape they were looking for.
There's still plenty of room inside, even in the rear seat, which we found to have excellent head- and foot room and decent knee room. The 60/40-split/folding rear seat now has a simple one-touch lever for fold-flat ability, as well as a seatback recline function.
The wide front seats are exceedingly well-padded, with good bolstering for the seatback. Like the Focus, the Escape has a grippy, thick-rimmed steering wheel that adds to the SUV's sporty driving dynamics. And as with the Focus, interior quality is excellent, with soft-touch materials for the dash and door sills, along with well-padded door armrests and center armrest. We did notice an intermittent rattle in an early-production Titanium model, coming from the hard plastic center section of the dash.
Good Choices Are Good Choices The 2013 Ford Escape will have three (count 'em) four-cylinder engine choices, all combined with six-speed automatics and, unfortunately, Ford's ultra-goofy lever-mounted rocker switch for manual shifting. Both the 2012 Honda CR-V and the all-new Mazda CX-5 make do with just one engine — a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter inline-4 with 185 horsepower and a five-speed automatic in the CR-V, and a 2.0-liter 155-hp four mated to either a six-speed manual or automatic on the CX-5.
Unlike with the current Escape, there won't be a hybrid, as the C-Max will take over that duty.
The 2.5-liter in the base Escape S ($23,295 including $825 destination) is basically the same engine as last year, now with 168 hp and 170 pound-feet of torque. Ford cares so little about this engine — probably because it's expected to make up less than 10 percent of the Escape mix — that it didn't have any on hand for us to try.
Feeling the Boost That's OK, because it's neither the fuel economy leader nor the power champ of the group. The former distinction goes to the new, English-built 1.6-liter EcoBoost (estimated 23 city/33 highway mpg versus the CR-V's 23 city/31 highway), which makes its American debut in the 2013 Ford Escape SE ($25,895). It's packed with a turbo, direct injection and variable valve timing. Using 91-octane fuel it produces 178 hp at 5,700 rpm and 184 lb-ft of torque at just 2,500 and does so with little turbo lag and minimal noise. More importantly, it does a reasonable job of moving the 3,502-pound front-drive Escape (all-wheel drive is available for $1,750 in either EcoBoost model), but it surely won't blow you away with its power. The one oddity was a slight hiccup in the surge of power at about 4,500 rpm.
An extra $1,095 gets you the 2.0-liter EcoBoost with 240 hp at 5,500 rpm and 270 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm (also using 91-octane), replacing last year's 240-hp 3.0-liter V6. This is the same EcoBoost that's a bit overmatched in the 2012 Ford Explorer, which means it's absolutely terrific in the little Escape. This, friends, is the engine to get if you don't mind sacrificing a few miles per gallon (EPA rating of 22 city/30 highway/25 combined with FWD).
In uphill situations where the 1.6 needed either extra throttle or a downshift (or both), the prodigious torque of the 2.0 pulls the Escape through without a thought. It's also quieter and smoother, and offers good punch when you press the right pedal all the way to the floor. And the 2.0 enables a 3,500-pound towing capacity.
Handling the Curves It was Ford's intention that the Escape be on the sporting side of the small SUV segment. Being based on the extremely competent-handling new Focus is a good start. Mind you, with its higher weight and a higher center of gravity you won't mistake the Escape for a Focus, but it's willing enough when the road begins to twist. The electric-assist steering doesn't have the spot-on feel of the Focus as it's a bit syrupy in its delivery, but body roll is reasonably well-controlled.
Things improve further in the Titanium model. Not just because of the 2.0 EcoBoost, but also because of the extra grip from the higher-performance all-season 19-inch tires and the ability of the (optional at this trim level) all-wheel-drive system to put the power down when exiting turns. Ride is taut but still supple enough. The shorter, stiffer sidewalls of the Titanium's 19-inch tires gave it a slightly more jittery ride than the 1.6 SE.
The brakes on the SE were touchy on initial application at low speeds, but pedal stroke was still long, and they didn't feel particularly powerful.
Certainly Ford has done some very solid work with the Escape's aero qualities (it's 10 percent more slippery than the outgoing model), as it exhibits very low wind and road noise.
Kicking the...Tailgate? Ford says the 2013 Escape is available with "11 new exclusive features no other small SUV offers." These include a blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert, a power panoramic roof and a hands-free power liftgate system, or as we call it — the kick-to-open tailgate. That's right, after years of being told by your parents to never, ever use your foot to close a door, Ford now wants you to kick the tailgate to open or close it.
In reality, your foot never needs to touch the tailgate, but rather just swing under the bumper to set off a sensor provided you're carrying the key fob. It's part of an $1,895 option package on the Escape SEL. When it works, it's handy. But it didn't open for us on first kick every time. Maybe we're uncoordinated. Or really bad at soccer.
King of the Small SUVs With more diverse and efficient engine choices, a nicer interior, sportier handling manners, unique available features and a new look that's sure to grab some stares, the 2013 Ford Escape is better in every way than the vehicle it replaces. Yes, it's a bit more expensive than before (the base model starts $1,030 higher), but there's also considerably more content.
Its primary competitors — Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 — can't match its engine choices, while the Kia Sportage and Toyota RAV4 can only dream about the Escape's interior refinement.
But here's the most intriguing aspect of the 2013 Escape story: Ford sold more Escapes in 2011 than ever — 254,293 units to be exact — trouncing the CR-V. Given those numbers and the 2013 model's specs, it might just be more useful to Ford than Manning is to the Broncos.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
2013 Ford Escape Overview Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2013 Ford Escape and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2013 Escape featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2013 Ford Escape and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2013 Escape 3.5 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2013 Escape.
Review I am aware of quite a few negative reviews and am often 2nd guessing myself on the purchase of my 1st new car (at nearly 40 yrs old). I don't have to drive as much as I used to because I work from home so my driving experience with this vehicle is not as extensive. Overall I love it. There are things I would change but the ride is great, the power is great (2.0 L but not an option here for SEL), and it's very comfortable. It feels like a sports sedan. I average 25 mpg, spot on the EPA est. People need to remember that highway rating is not highway/interstate slow & go driving. My mpg drops when my husband drives it so how you drive really does affect mpg.
Edmunds Value Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color
The 2013 Ford Escape earned a 4-star overall safety rating from NHTSA and "GOOD" ratings from the IIHS in the following caregories: Side Impact Test, Roof Strength Test, Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint, Moderate Overlap Front Test Results, and a JD POWER overall quality rating of 2.0 out of 5. Among Edmunds' many tools and resources for finding your perfect car are detailed safety ratings and analysis from NHTSA, IIHS, and JD Power, including overall ratings, frontal barrier crash ratings, side impact tests and crash ratings, rollover test results, roof strength tests, rear crash protection and head restraint ratings, side barrier ratings, combined side barrier and pole ratings, and more.
Available Ford Escape 2013 Submodel Types: SUV, Hybrid
Available Trims: SE, Titanium, S, XLT, SEL, Limited, XLS, HEV, XLS Choice, XLS Popular, XLT Sport
Exterior Colors: Ingot Silver Metallic, Magnetic Metallic, Shadow Black, Ruby Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, White Platinum Tri-Coat Metallic, Tuxedo Black Metallic, Oxford White, White Gold Metallic, Lightning Blue Metallic, Sterling Grey Metallic, Blue Metallic, Deep Impact Blue Metallic, Oxford White Clearcoat, Sunset Metallic, Canyon Ridge Metallic, Black Clearcoat, Cinnamon Glaze, Sterling Grey Clearcoat Metallic, Sangria Red Metallic, Steel Blue Metallic, Silver Metallic Clearcoat, Redfire Clearcoat Metallic, White Suede Clearcoat, Black, Tungsten Grey Clearcoat Metallic, Blue Flame Metallic, Dark Shadow Grey Clearcoat Metallic, Gold Leaf Metallic, Frosted Glass Metallic, Sport Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Ginger Ale Metallic, Titanium Green Clearcoat Metallic, Toreador Red Metallic, Light Sage Clearcoat Metallic, Kodiak Brown Metallic, Norsea Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Oxford White Clearcoat (Fleet), Vista Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Electric Spice Metallic, Karat Gold, Kiwi Clearcoat Metallic, Brilliant Silver Metallic Clearcoat, Black Pearl Slate Clearcoat Metallic, Red Fire Clearcoat Metallic, True Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Blazing Copper Clearcoat Metallic, Aspen Green Clearcoat Metallic, Bright Red Clearcoat Metallic, Dark Stone Clearcoat Metallic, Gold Ash Clearcoat Metallic, Lime Squeeze Metallic
Interior Colors: Charcoal Black cloth, Charcoal Black leather, Charcoal Black leather/cloth, Medium Light Stone leather/cloth, Medium Light Stone cloth, Medium Light Stone leather, Charcoal Black premium leather, Stone premium cloth, Stone leather, Camel leather, Camel premium cloth, Medium Light Stone premium leather, Charcoal Black premium cloth, Stone cloth, Ebony Black, Medium/Dark Pebble, Medium/Dark Flint premium cloth, Medium/Dark Flint, Medium/Dark Pebble premium cloth, Camel premium leather, Ebony Black leather, Ebony Black premium leather, Medium Parchment, Medium/Dark Flint cloth, Medium/Dark Pebble cloth
Popular Features: Fold Flat Rear Seats, Rear Bench Seats, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Tire Pressure Warning, Stability Control, Trip Computer, Aux Audio Inputs, Post-collision safety system, Bluetooth, 3500lb Towing Capacity, USB Inputs, Power Driver Seat, Back-up camera, AWD/4WD, Auto Climate Control, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Alarm, Heated seats, Mobile Internet, Leather Seats, Parking sensors, Power Liftgate/Trunk, Remote Start, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Navigation, Keyless Entry/Start, Upgraded Engine, Upgraded Headlights, Sunroof/Moonroof, Blind Spot Monitoring, Towing Hitch, Upgraded Stereo, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Emergency Braking, Pre-collision safety system