• Competing teams travel the US in the all-new 2013 Ford Escape
  • Teams face challenges in six cities
  • Viewers can follow along and compete online

Ford is taking a novel approach to launching its completely redesigned 2013 Ford Escape, introducing the compact SUV on its own reality television show. "Escape Routes" is a prime-time road trip competition show airing on NBC and the bilingual cable network mun2. Six two-person teams will put the Escape and their own skills and strengths to the test in a road trip competition complete with plenty of real-world challenges. Ford says the series will not only entertain viewers but will engage them to interact and impact the outcome of the competition.

Ford has some experience introducing new vehicles through new media channels. The company launched the Fiesta and Explorer through social media and an earlier Escape model through social gaming. Placing products in television programs is nothing new for automakers, either. But "Escape Routes" is different, since Ford is actually responsible for creating the program, not just sponsoring it. The company enlisted the help of Emmy Award-winning producer Elise Doganieri for production of the reality show.

Teams will begin in LA and travel to New York, Atlanta, Miami, San Francisco and Las Vegas. Internet personality iJustine will be along for the ride, capturing behind-the-scenes action and sharing it online. Viewers can join in too, interacting and competing at escaperoutes.com.

The 2013 Ford Escape hits dealers' showrooms this spring with all new styling inside and out and new features like a hands-free power liftgate. Three engines will be offered, all four-cylinder. The 2.5-liter base engine carries over from the current Escape while a choice of two new turbocharged and direct-injected EcoBoost motors is optional. The EPA has not yet released fuel economy estimates for the new Escape, but Ford says improvements like the smaller-displacement EcoBoost engines, a six-speed automatic transmission and electric power steering will contribute to best-in-class fuel efficiency.

Perhaps the efficiency of the new Escape will first be revealed through an "Escape Routes" challenge. If reality television is any representation of real driving situations, Ford should gladly report on the fuel economy achieved by these teams of travelers. "Escape Routes" airs Saturday nights at 8 pm ET on NBC and at 11 pm ET on mun2 starting March 31st.

What it means to you: A new reality TV show called "Escape Routes" is more than entertainment. It's a product launch for the completely redesigned 2013 Ford Escape, the newest incarnation of America's best-selling SUV.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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