• The 2013 Escape starts at $22,470 before destination
  • Trim levels include the Escape S, SE, SEL and Titanium
  • Options include automated parking and a hands-free rear liftgate

After unveiling the 2013 Escape at this year's Detroit Auto Show in January, Ford finally announced pricing for its compact SUV through a new online configurator. According to the recently launched website, base-level Escape S models will start from $22,470 before destination, while the top-level Escape Titanium starts at a near-luxury $30,370 before shipping and options.

The recently announced pricing places the Escape in direct competition with major rivals like the Honda CR-V, which starts at $22,295 before shipping, and the Toyota RAV4, which is priced from $22,650. The figures also represent an increase over last year's Escape, which started at just over $21,000 before destination. But according to Ford, the SUV is worth the price bump thanks to its fresh styling, upgraded features and several new engine options.

The Escape's least expensive version is the basic "S" trim level, which is offered solely with front-wheel drive and includes the same 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine found in the current model. While standard features are sparse, buyers do get a six-speed automatic transmission, a CD player, an auxiliary input jack, remote keyless entry and Ford's unique MyKey feature, which allows drivers to program vehicle settings based on which key is being used.

Starting at $25,070 before destination, the mid-level Escape SE receives several new features and gives buyers a choice between two new engines that offer Ford's turbocharged EcoBoost technology: a 173-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder, and - for an extra $1,095 - a 231-horsepower 2.0-liter powerplant that replaces last year's V6. The upscale Escape SEL offers even more standard features - including leather upholstery and the automaker's MyFordTouch infotainment system - in its base price of $27,070 before shipping.

Last up in the Escape range is the upscale Escape Titanium, which is priced from $30,370 before destination. In addition to featuring the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine standard, the Titanium includes several upscale features ranging from Xenon headlights to heated front seats and HD Radio. The top-level Escape also includes Ford's new hands-free liftgate - part of a $1,895 package on other models - which conveniently opens in parking lots with the simple swing of a leg under a sensor mounted in the SUV's rear bumper. The system, which only operates when the key is nearby, is designed to help people balancing large items in their arms.

According to Ford, the 2013 Escape is expected to go on sale this spring. Other exciting options include a panoramic sunroof, a touch-screen navigation system and the Parking Technology package, which is highlighted by a system that can parallel park the Escape without any driver input.

What it means to you: Although prices can run into luxury SUV territory, it seems Ford thought of nearly everyone when designing its 2013 Escape lineup.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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