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Mudfest 2013: Tom's Hardware Helps Test 23 SUVs

Ford Escape

Ford has a completely new Escape for the 2013 model year that shares its platform with the 2012 Focus. The previous-generation Escape debuted back in 2000 and received mild updates in 2008, so this refresh was needed. This time around, Ford offers plenty of tech options to sort through before you order.

The top-rung Titanium trim level showed up for Mudfest 2013. It was nicely equipped with standard push-button start, remote start, SYNC with MyFord Touch, HID projector headlights, and leather seats. Our test vehicle had the company’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged motor paired to a six-speed automatic transmission and intelligent four-wheel drive system. Ford doesn’t give away much information on its drivetrain, but mentions that it monitors traction conditions every 16 ms for optimal torque distribution and vectoring. 

Some of the options our Escape included were a power lift gate, rear parking sensors, active park assist, blind spot detection, a back-up camera, navigation, and HD Radio. The lift gate has a neat trick; it lets you walk up behind the car with a key in your pocket and kick your foot below the rear bumper to automatically open it. We weren't able to test the active park assist or blind spot detection systems, but we’ve evaluated active park assist in the past and found it to be quite functional.

We spent a little more time using SYNC with MyFord Touch and our HTC Droid DNA. The phone paired fine and its phonebook transferred over, but text messaging did not work. This was odd because the Droid DNA features HTC Sense, which properly supports the Bluetooth MAP protocol. Nevertheless, we were limited on time. SYNC with MyFord Touch had no trouble with the Lightning-connector equipped iPad, and it played music off of the tablet like a standard iPod.

The Escape was more car-like than SUV. Its Focus roots are noticeable, making it a great crossover to toss around. The 2.0-liter EcoBoost motor was very smooth, didn’t exhibit any noticeable lag, and packed quite a punch. We found the intelligent four-wheel drive system to be competent around the skid pad and dirt course, observing none of the understeer you typically associate with FWD-based systems.

The Escape's throttle response was a little odd in that the drive-by-wire system doesn’t appear to react fast enough when you step on the gas while cruising around. Driving around more conservatively, this wasn't an issue. Ford's Escape wasn’t the only vehicle to exhibit this behavior, though. We noticed it on the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport as well.

Styling-wise, I find the new Escape to be a massive improvement over the previous generation. It's good-looking and stands out in a sea of bland-looking vehicles around it.

Vehicle Specifications
Vehicle2013 Ford Escape
Trim levelTitanium 4WD
Engine2.0 L I4 GTDI EcoBoost (Turbo)
TransmissionSix-speed Select Shift Automatic
DrivetrainIntelligent 4WD
InfotainmentSYNC with MyFord Touch & Navigation
Notable featuresPower lift-gateRear parking aid sensorsActive park assistBlind spot detection system (BLIS)Rear-view camera
Fuel economy21 city, 28 highway, 24 combined MPG