New For 2014
A backup camera becomes standard on all trim levels, a four-way manual passenger seat is standard, and the Titanium model gains full-leather seats as standard. Sunset metallic and karat gold join the list of color choices. There’s also a new 18-inch wheel design for the Escape Titanium.
As the Explorer grew steadily larger throughout the 1990s, Ford decided it had space in its lineup for a smaller SUV. The original Ford Escape debuted in 2000 and continued through fall 2011, when Ford introduced the all-new 2013 model at the Los Angeles auto show. The small crossover has bolder, more modern styling than its predecessor, and its more aerodynamically sculpted shape helps achieve excellent fuel-economy ratings. A pair of turbo engines, a self-park feature, and a kick-to-open liftgate highlight the high-tech options list. The Escape has long been one of Ford’s top sellers, and it often beating rivals like the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4 in its segment sales race.
The Ford Escape is no longer a box. It now has funky geometric elements, a swept-back nose with squinty headlights, polygonal shapes on the liftgate, and a more aerodynamic raked windshield. The fresh design falls in line with the styling of other Ford vehicles and is among the most attractive in the class. The interior follows a similar trend, mixing colors and intersecting lines to create a very modern design. On the downside, outward visibility isn’t the best and the steering wheel is somewhat overloaded with buttons. The Escape’s interior is also narrower and smaller overall than those of its rivals.
Nonetheless, the Ford Escape is excellent to drive. A taut suspension, weighty and responsive steering, and supportive seats will keep enthusiastic drivers from getting bored behind the wheel. The base engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that is offered only with front-wheel drive and should be avoided. Our pick is the 178-hp, 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbo, which provides plentiful power and torque and is EPA-rated for 23/32 mpg. The top option is a 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbo, which sacrifices some fuel economy but offers 240 hp and the ability to tow 3500 pounds. The six-speed automatic transmission can be shifted manually, but only by way of an awkward toggle switch on the side of the shifter.
All versions of the Ford Escape are well equipped, but the lengthy options list can add even more appealing toys. A hands-free liftgate pops open when you wave your foot beneath the rear bumper, Active Park Assist can maneuver into a parallel-parking spot automatically, a blind-spot monitor prevents accidents, and Curve Control automatically brakes if the crossover enters a sharp turn too quickly. A full-length panoramic sunroof, heated leather seats, 19-inch wheels, and the MyFord Touch infotainment system ensure that the Escape can keep up with the Joneses, at least in term of gadgets.
- Fuel-efficient turbo engines
- Bold styling
- Fun to drive
You won’t like:
- Modest interior room
- Outward visibility only OK
- Titanium trim level is pricey
- Honda CR-V
- Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
- Mazda CX-5
- Toyota RAV4