BY BARBARA MCSPADDEN & KELLY BREUER | PHOTO BY JENNIFFER MERIDA
Every once in a while, we’re offered a few perks as publishers of this magazine. Almost any and all rewards are passed along to our team because of their hard work and dedication. But when Ford offered us the opportunity to be one of the first local publications to test-drive the 2013 Escape, well, we just had to take them up on the offer and have a little fun.
At first sight the Escape looks nothing at all like the small SUV that it is. Ford has totally redesigned the look of the Escape for 2013 to give it a crossover feel. Gone is the boxy “mini Explorer” look and in its place is a sportier, curvier vehicle that looks fast even when it’s parked.
What’s under the hood might surprise many. You’ll want to buckle up extra tight for this ride. The 2.0L EcoBoost engine will get you down the road in a hurry. But don’t worry, there’s cruise control for those of us who need to slow down a little.
We spend a lot of time driving around town going to meetings and events, so ride and comfort is an important factor in any vehicle we drive — the Escape didn’t disappoint. The interior is functional and very comfortable. It has none of the usual “truck-like” feel of a lot of vehicles in its class. Our test vehicle was the top-of-the-line Titanium model, which was tricked out to the max with all of the bells and whistles that Ford has to offer. One of the nicest features was the MyFord TouchTM system. This was our first experience with the system and it handled everything we threw at it. MyFord TouchTM allows you to control virtually everything in the vehicle from the radio to the comfort system with simple voice commands so that you almost never have to take your hands off the wheel. A lot of voice recognition technology requires a small learning curve to operate properly, but the MyFord TouchTM system performed almost flawlessly, even with two different people speaking commands frequently.
One of the most unique features of the Escape has to be the hands-free lift gate. Ladies, how many times have you walked up to your vehicle with your hands loaded down with groceries, boxes, children, etc. with no available hand to open the lift gate or to even press a button on the remote to unlock the doors? Ford solved that problem brilliantly on the Escape. With the key fob in your pocket or purse, a simple kick of your leg under the center of the rear bumper and voila the lift gate pops open like magic. Kick again and it closes by itself…no hands necessary. Whoever thought of this little feature was pure genius; a woman most certainly conceived it. We’re not easily impressed, but it was truly one of the most ingenious features we’ve seen in a long time. Simply put, this in one of those “gotta have” features that everyone is going to want.
In the three days we had the Escape, we put it through its paces around town and on the thruway and it never let us down. There are three key safety features that make this vehicle very easy to handle. First are the blind spot mirrors. When a vehicle enters your blind spot on either side, a yellow light illuminates in on the outside edge of the face of the mirror to let you know that it’s there. Once you get used to it, you won’t want to drive another car without it.
The next feature is the rear view camera. This makes getting around a parking lot surprisingly simple. The camera gives you a clear view of what’s behind you along with trajectory lines to help you easily back in and out of any space. There is also a perimeter sensor to warn you if someone or something is in your path. And finally, the Escape features Park Assist. This basically parallel parks the car for you. All I can say is, ‘where was this when I was taking my driving test all those years ago?’ You simply pull up to a space, press the button to activate and take your hands off the wheel. The car does the steering and you control the accelerator and brake. Now that’s pretty slick.
Ford indeed did its homework when they redesigned the 2013 Escape. This is a sleek, sporty-looking crossover that is comfortable, sure-footed and fun to drive. There’s plenty of cargo capacity and it’s available with several “must have” components to make this midsize crossover up to par with many luxury cars that come with a much higher price tag.
For more information on the 2013 Ford Escape visit www. ford.com