The 2013 Ford Escape combines sporty good looks with a capable platform, cutting-edge engine options and a fun-to-drive factor. The Escape also offers many features found in no other compact SUV in this price range, including a rear cargo door that opens automatically when you wave your foot under the bumper. The Escape can even parallel park itself.
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Ford Escape is new from the ground up. No longer boxy, the new Escape is sleek, modern and full of surprises. From its line of turbocharged EcoBoost engines to its full suite of electronic audio, navigation and communication system, the Escape redefines the compact SUV.
What We Like
Sleek styling; powerful but fuel-efficient turbocharged engines; SYNC voice-activated infotainment system; class-leading technology
What We Don't
Small cargo area; average rear seat legroom; advanced tech reserved for priciest models; firm ride in Titanium models
$23,650 - $36,750
The entry-level Escape S is powered by a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine good for 168 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque, and fuel economy of 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission choice and all-wheel drive (AWD) is not available.
Next up is the SE and SEL that use a 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbocharged 4-cylinder engine rated at 178 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, and fuel economy of 22/33 mpg with front-wheel drive (FWD) and 22/30 mpg with AWD.
Optional on the SE and SEL and standard on Titanium models is a 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with an impressive 240 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, and fuel economy of 22/30 mpg with FWD and 21/28 mpg with AWD.
Note that premium fuel is recommended for the EcoBoost engines. Using regular fuel will slightly reduce power to compensate for the lower octane fuel.
Options & Standard Features
The 2013 Ford Escape is offered in four trims: S, SE, SEL and Titanium. The base Escape S ($23,365) offers little in the way of bells and whistles and is only available with FWD. Standard equipment includes cruise control, air conditioning, rear windshield wiper, six-speaker stereo with CD and auxiliary input jack, MyKey programmable key fob (lets parents set limits on radio volume and top speed) and 17-inch steel wheels with plastic covers. Ford's SYNC voice controls, an iPod connector, Bluetooth and steering wheel audio controls are among the only options.
The SE ($25,965) adds alloy wheels, exterior keypads for the door locks, SYNC, reclining rear seats, fog lights, automatic headlights and the turbocharged 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine. Options for the SE include AWD, a panoramic glass moonroof, voice activated navigation, power cargo door, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate controls, 110V power outlet, MyFord Touch, a nine-speaker audio upgrade, dual USB ports and SD card reader.
The SEL ($29,065) adds heated side mirrors, leather seating surfaces, 10-way power driver's seat with power lumbar support and heated front seats. Options include the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, the Technology Package (keyless entry, push-button start, foot-activated rear door, backup sensors, Sony audio with 10 speaker and HD radio and remote start), and the Parking Package (self-parking system, blind spot warning system with cross traffic alert, rain-sensing wipers and a backup camera).
The Titanium ($31,265) adds the 240 horsepower 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, 19-inch wheels, HID headlamps plus much of the equipment found in the SEL Tech Packages. Options for the Titanium include the Parking Package, navigation, panoramic sunroof and full leather trimmed seating.
Adding AWD costs $1,750. Price wise, a fully loaded SEL tops out pretty close to nicely equipped Titanium, which offers much more in the way of horsepower and features. The value leader in this class is the SE, which remains under $30,000 even with navigation, automatic climate controls and the panoramic sunroof.
Every 2013 Escape is equipped with Ford's Personal Safety System and Safety Canopy System that includes side impact airbags in front, side curtain airbags and a driver's knee airbag. AdvanceTrac traction and stability control help keep the Escape moving in the direction you intend even when things get slippery.
The Escape performs fairly well in crash tests, earning four out of five stars in NHTSA's overall safety ratings.
Behind the Wheel
Compared to the previous generation, the 2013 Escape is substantially better in every way. The body is rigid and tight, without any squeaks or rattles. The seats feel a bit narrow but are supportive and comfortable. At highway speeds, the Escape's cabin is remarkably quiet.
The Escape's suspension settings give this little SUV a sporty demeanor, although steering feel is a bit vague, especially on twisting roads. We like the ride on the SE and SEL, but found the Titanium's larger 19-inch wheels made even the smallest road imperfections seem like massive potholes.
The base 2.5-liter engine is competent enough, but it's the EcoBoost engines that really make the Escape zip along. We found the 1.6-liter engine more than satisfying in both its power delivery and fuel consumption. The 2.0-liter turbo is a brute, and those accustomed to having a V6 will want this option.
Other Cars to Consider
Honda CR-V - Considered by many to be the gold standard in compact crossovers, the CR-V has a well-deserved reputation for reliability and resale, two areas where the new Escape has yet to prove itself. While the CR-V can't compete with the Escape's engine and technology offerings, even a fully loaded EX-L model barely crosses the $30,000 mark.
Toyota RAV4 - The RAV4 has more interior room and there's even an all-electric model, the RAV4 EV (based on the old RAV4). The RAV4 is also projected to hold its value better than the Escape and it gets better fuel economy in the city. Although it doesn't offer as many options, a loaded RAV4 Limited costs thousands less than well equipped Escape SEL or Titanium.
Subaru Forester - The Forester doesn't handle as well as the Escape, but its permanent AWD is superior to Ford's on-demand system and its resale numbers still trump just about everything in this class. The Forester's turbo model has even more power than the Escape's 2.0-liter.
While we love all of the extra tech goodies in the SEL and Titanium models, their price tags seem at odds with the reason most people buy a smaller SUV; affordability. We think the SE trim with the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine is the best choice. Adding AWD still keeps the price well under $30,000.