2011 LA Auto Show: 2013 Ford Escape

At the 2011 LA Auto Show this week, Ford revealed the 2013 Escape.  Ford’s small SUV is all grown up, with a host of new engines and technology, wrapped up in all-new sheet metal.  Read on for more details, pictures and a video of the optional hands-free liftgate.

While the Escape has undergone periodic changes since it went on sale in 2000 as a 2001 model here in the United States, this is its first real departure from its initial boxy design.  With its sleek new bodywork, the new Escape looks the part of a crossover, even if it’s marketed as an SUV.  It also resembles the Honda CR-V crossover, an attribute which may or may not hurt its sales.

Outside, the new Escape shares a lot of its design paradigm with the new 2012 Ford Focus, including sleek lines, with a trapezoidal lower grille, swept head and taillights, steeply-raked windshield, and a roofline that drops as you get to the liftgate in the back.  The side panels feature a creased character line which rises slightly from the front to the back, hiding some of the Escape’s bulk.  Some of the rear evokes thoughts of the Subaru Tribeca B-9, but in a less stretched manner.  The wheels look like up-sized Focus wheels, featuring an attractive design and satin finish.  Dual exhaust outlets in the rear fascia lend a sporty look.

Inside, a one-piece dash looks like a cross between the new Explorer and Focus dashboards, while nicely-bolstered seats should prove helpful when corner-carving, if you so desire.  Those new seats, as well as a lot of the Escape’s interior, feature recycled materials which save weight while reducing the carbon footprint of Ford’s redesigned small SUV.  Several of Ford’s favorite interior bits make an appearance, from MyFord Touch, first seen in the new Explorer and Edge, as well as a 4.2″ LCD screen between the speedometer and tachometer.  The LCD screen shows plenty of vehicle information, from trip odometers to system-specific readouts such as oil life and instantaneous MPG readouts.

Having not been inside a new Escape, I can only tell from the pictures, but the materials all look luxurious, something we haven’t seen a whole lot of in the small SUV / crossover market.  Creature comforts like automatic climate control and touch-screen navigation add to the luxury factor as well.

Under the hood, the base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine carries over from the 2012 model, albeit upgraded with new fuel-efficient technologies.  New to the Escape are two EcoBoost engines – in 2.0 and 1.6-liter variants.  The EcoBoost engines are part of a Ford initiative to offer EcoBoost technology in 90% of its vehicles by 2013, and give owners bragging rights at the fuel pump.  For anyone not familiar with Ford’s EcoBoost, it’s their way of marketing direct-injected twin-turbocharged engines that provide superior fuel economy without sacrificing power.

The 2.0-liter EcoBoost will deliver 237 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque, while the 1.6-liter EcoBoost will have 173 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque.  While the EPA has not yet certified the engines in the new Escape, Ford is expecting class-leading fuel economy, and up to 5 mpg better than the current engines.  Stealing another bit of tech from the Focus, Escapes optioned with the 1.6-liter EcoBoost or base 2.5-liter engines will feature grille slats that close and open based on speed and engine temperature, helping to reduce drag, which increases fuel economy.

Beyond the new engines, the Escape features a host of technology, from Ford’s love-it-or-hate-it MyFord Touch, which was recently updated to improve its user experience, to a hands-free power liftgate, which incorporates a sensor underneath the rear bumper to open and close itself.  In between, the new Escape will feature BLIS, front and rear parking sensors, a backup camera, and parking assist, where the SUV will parallel park itself.  The 4WD (four-wheel drive) system has been upgraded, and in actuality is an AWD (all-wheel drive), using wheel speed sensors to transfer engine power front and rear to help the driver keep control.

In all, the new changes should help the Escape sell in quantities it never has.  With competitive features, fuel economy and good looks, the Escape presents a compelling product for anyone needing utility and people-moving capabilities without wanting to spend a ton of money at the gas pump.  The 2013 Ford Escape should go on sale in the spring of 2012, after a short 2012 model year in its current guise.

Video of the new Escape’s optional hands-free liftgate:

by John Suit

Source: Ford


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