2013 Ford Escape Titanium review: Shines like new because it is

2013 Ford Escape Platinum AWD

2013 Ford Escape Titanium AWD

Just as the 2011 Ford Explorer transformed the original Explorer format dating back to 1990, making it almost unrecognizable to owners of that first Explorer era, the new 2013 Ford Escape is a wholesale transformation of the original Ford Escape that goes back largely unchanged to 2001.

The original Ford Escape was truly a compact SUV, at least in proportions, configuration and profile, a true two-box design with sport-utility pretensions. The 2013 Ford Escape kicks that concept to the curb. Barely recognizable as an Escape, it looks more like the Ford Focus, with a trapezoidal grille and large triangular cheek scoops that serve no purpose other than cosmetic.

Indeed, the 2013 Ford Escape is based on the Focus platform. The Escape is however, is 3.5 inches longer, with the wheelbase stretched by 2.8 inches and with eight inches of snowdrift-topping ground clearance. Still it becomes our version of the Focus station wagon that’s sold elsewhere in the world (but proved a dud here and dropped for the latest generation). Erstwhile American wagonmasters prefer the higher hip-point the Escape, now more truly a compact crossover than compact SUV. Competitors for the Escape include the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4, and Volkswagen Tiguan, as well as the Chevy Equinox, GMC Terrain.

2013 Ford Escape Platinum AWD dash

The seats of the 2013 Ford Escape Titanium AWD have a “body glove” design. (Click to enlarge)

We at CarBuzzard have anticipated the arrival of the new Escape since our first full pre-2011 L.A. Auto Show report and a first drive Escape Titanium review, and rather duplicate the details provided in those articles, we’ll recommend them to you and note here that the 2013 Ford Escape is available in a broad spectrum of trim and cost, starting with the base model Escape S, listing at $22,470 and powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive. The Escape SE, the SEL and Titanium, are priced at $25,070, $27,870 and $30,370 respectively.

All three upper trim levels are offered in front or all-wheel drive, and with the 1.6-liter a choice between a standard 1.6-liter EcoBoost or more powerful 2.0-liter EcoBoost four. The Platinum model comes only with the 2.0-liter engine commensurate with its premier status in the Escape lineup. For those who haven’t been keeping up, EcoBoost is Ford’s name for engines that combine turbocharging and direct injection, an arrangement that Ford is using on four-cylinder, V-6 engines and even a three-cylinder EcoBoost engine for the Ford Fiesta.

2013 Ford Escape Platinum back seat

The 2013 Ford Escape Titanium back seat has generous leg room with space under the front seat for toes. (Click to enlarge)

Ford provided a 2013 Ford Escape Titanium All-Wheel Drive for our review immediately following a week in a 2013 Ford Mustang GT, and we expected to be wholly disappointed. Well, we weren’t. We’ll confess to being g-force junkies, and will confirm that the Escape’s acceleration falls far short of the Mustang’s. And we doubt that the Escape would be nearly as successful in picking up girls…unless it’s picking up the young ‘uns from after swim team, soccer, band practice…

But the two-liter EcoBoost-powered 2013 Ford Escape has, if not the Mustang GT’s thunder, than plenty of zip. The engine is smooth at idle though not imperceptible, but our notes say, “Wow does it have acceleration.” The two-liter EcoBoost four in the Escape is rated at 240 horsepower. That’s seven less horsepower than the Ford Focus ST hot hatchback, but it’s quick nonetheless, and the all-wheel drive makes it wholly drama-free. Incidentally, the 2.0-liter EcoBoost is also used in the much larger Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKZ, replacing V-6 engines.

The EcoBoost 2.0 Escape scoots. And it’s smooth and slick at high revs as well.

And with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost, the 2013 Ford Escape Titanium has a tow rating of 3.500 lbs.