Of all the revamps of last year, if any is worthy of the prefix “all new” to its design, it is indeed the 2013 Ford Escape. In fact, they could have got away with calling this the “Ford Getaway” or something like that. The new Ford Escape has traded its boxy yet solid looks for a top berth in the small SUV club.
UPSIDE: More fun to drive, Cabin refinements, Standard safety features, Automatic tailgate, Comes with service package
FLIPSIDE: New Ford Ecoboost engine not available, No 4 x 4 option, Blends in with the category design
Those who do a double take upon viewing the all-new Escape for the first time are advised to resist the urge to make a U-turn from the unfamiliar face and instead, head straight for the wheel. If the 2013 Escape doesn’t pick up the design where it was left, it picks up speed with greater agility and handles curves with much more confidence.
Ford’s new Ecoboost engine is the more famous one but what we get in the Middle East is the familiar, naturally aspirated 2.5L I-4 that has lost a couple of units in power but is tuned for better fuel efficiency. It should have something to do with the refined aerodynamics, the 168 bhp output with the 230 Nm of torque amply sustains a smoother ride to the top quarter of the tachometer. The only grudge I had with it was the way it droned along when you floored it and also how at cruise speeds, the acceleration sneaked upon you from under your idling foot – somewhat like a CVT in doing that.
The steering has undergone a good bit of refinement; it effortlessly assists the new Escape in handling the roads almost like a sedan, notwithstanding an occasional brittleness of abrupt lateral maneuvers. However, despite its longer wheelbase and sharper aerodynamics, it still shows some body roll – but that is normal with a speeding Crossover.
Cabin and Controls
The dash and console in the 2013 Ford Escape have been elevated to suit the transformation. The slanting central console leaves the gear lever more accessible without having to lean forward, just as the minimized control buttons and the touch screen are.
The MyFord Touch with SYNC Feature screen on my test car had the media controls on the 8” touch screen apart from vehicle settings. The new Escape has an Internet access option added to the Bluetooth/phone and the USB/iPod. All the controls are neatly slated on the steering as well, of which the voice command was particularly useful as I checked out the radio channels. The cabin is silent for the category (as promised by the fine print on the windshield which said “sound screen”) but the new six-speaker system does make it an even better place.
Seating resembles the exiting model and is as comfortable with 6-way manual adjustments for my version, while the higher SE version comes with 10-way automatic controls, plus leather seats. The cabin has a driver-friendly day/night rear view mirror while the blind spot continues to be monitored on an integrated mirror lump. It can help recognize specks that are too close, but might not be the best for a quick glance till you live with it long enough.
The 2013 Ford Escape is available in some snazzy colours including my car’s deep impact metallic blue. There are three trims levels including the ones with moon roof and leather but none come with navigation or rear view camera for the time being. The logic could be that if one were to go for that complete a package, buyers would vote for an upgrade to the new affordable Explorer or even the Edge.
The design of the 2013 Ford Escape is one thing that will sharply divide its fan base. Those who lament the departure of the ‘solid’ feel of the box and those who will learn to appreciate the curvaceous lines of the new Escape, overnight.
With little left of the original design, the front features the new Ford styling (the Escape is based on the Focus platform too) while the rear brought to mind the chopped off face of the Sphinx. The hard lines like cat paw marks on the hood and the three-window configuration remind of Hyundai Tucson and much of the category, but the Escape’s design – in and out – is much more refined. The pronounced wheel fenders felt like a force fit for the sake of muscle – something like a six-pack on Woody Allen!
The Escape has been a favourite with drivers who wanted to move up to an SUV’s higher stance and with families that felt good within its solid framework.
The new Escape looks smaller but is actually larger – longer by almost 4 inches, wider by more than an inch and about an inch and a half lower. However, the legroom is only marginally better while there is a slight reduction in headroom in front. The boot offers a decent 971 L of storage though they have shaven off the sides, and you get almost double that space by folding the rear seats.
Safety features are many and standard in the 2013 Ford Escape including dual-stage driver airbags and improved Roll Stability Control. Whether it looks solid or not anymore, the Escape retains the secure feeling. In other news, ISOFIX baby seats are easy to clip on and the roof rails now have crossbars, too.
The all-new price
Besides its box and some dated buttons, the Ford Escape 2013 has left behind its earlier pricing strategy by over 15% but it is a well-deserved raise at first glance. Starting at AED 89,000 and going up to AED 115,000, the Ford Escape now compares in price to the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5 and Skoda Yeti. In comparison, the entry level promises good value, which tends to drop as you move towards full option, largely because of the lack of an upgraded engine or a 4 x 4 advantage in the Escape. As for the Korean duo, the comfort features and cabin material could give them a run for their money. But then, the new Ford Escape too comes for an extra bag of money.
The essential Ford Escape 2013
In redesigning the Escape, Ford began by smashing the looking glass. After 9 years of staying in a box, when it recast the mould, Ford Escape had to ‘belong’ to the club of curvaceous design or risk being called dated.
The Escape offers a level of road response that is very involving, while the drive is now softer on the passengers. In the absence of the Ecoboost engine in the Gulf, the familiar 2.5L four-pot impresses with improved fuel efficiency. Gadgetry like Ford MyTouch Sync and the automatic tailgate are firsts in an entry-level Ford. However, even in the overpriced top line trim, there is no navigation or rear view camera.
With its quick steering response, aerodynamic styling and the smooth shifting six-speed, the new Escape is definitely more fun to drive! One word of advice for the driver: Everyday roughing up is in order in your new Ford Escape but till the time the four-wheel drive hits our shores, if ever, stay clear of more than three inches of sand, or have an escape plan ready!
Drive Courtesy: Al Tayer Motors
Cameras: Sudeep Koshy, Altas Ali