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Auto Show:  2011 La Auto Show

Ford Escape's MyFordTouch - LA Auto Show

author photo by Dan Carney November 2011

Ford's Escape compact crossover SUV inexplicably still leads its segment in sales a decade after the vehicle debuted using already-old Mazda 626 underpinnings.  So introducing a fully modern replacement in the 2013 Escape presents possible challenges in appealing to an audience currently accustomed to the boxy, F-150-inspired outgoing model.

Ford's approach: go all-in with the latest technology.  The Escape will debut the updated version of the company's widely criticized MyFordTouch infotainment system.  This new version simplifies the appearance of the home screen while also providing additional information.  "We tried to make it a lot more minimal," explained Ken Williams, a systems integration engineer for Ford.  "The biggest feature was adding turn directions to the home screen," he noted.

That means that when the basic four-quadrant home screen showing climate control, navigation, radio controls and phone is displayed, now drivers can see the next turn in their navigation route without having to select the navigation screen.  Additionally, radio station presets are also permanently visible in the radio quadrant, rather than forcing drivers to switch to the radio screen to see station presets.

Many of the on-screen buttons are enlarged, making them easier to locate and press while driving, though they still don't seem like they are as big as might be ideal to minimize the driver's need to focus attention on touching them while driving. 

One excellent new improvement is to buttons which have more than one function, or which provide access to multiple other screens.  To indicate this unseen capability, such buttons now include a row of simulated LED lights, with one lit to indicate selection of the current screen.  The dimmed virtual LEDs convey to drivers that this button has additional, unselected capabilities that can be revealed by pressing the same button a second or third time.

Another unseen function in the Escape is an automatic rear hatch opener, which is activated by a kick of the foot under the bumper.  Anyone carrying the Escape's key can approach the rear hatch and air kick under the bumper to automatically trigger the automatic rear hatch, without setting down the armload of groceries or fishing the key out of their pocket. 

The company says the system uses the same motion-sensing technology as Microsoft's Kinect for the Xbox video game console.  No word on whether it will be possible to kick field goals on Madden '13 with this system.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Ford Escape's MyFordTouch - LA Auto Show - Autotrader