Twelve years after it entered the market as a family-friendly, reasonably sized sport/utility box, the Ford Escape finally is getting the attention to design that something this popular deserves. The ironic thing is the outgoing model is flying off dealer lots, thanks in part to end-of-lifecycle discounting and the shortage of key Japanese competitors Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
The new 2013 model, which goes on sale in the first half of '12, converges like most of the rest of non-F-Series/Mustang North American models with their European counterparts. The new one looks much more like the replacement for the European Ford Kuga than for the U.S. Escape. In Europe, the compact crossover with two rows of seating is far more popular, and far easier to find, than the three-row midsize and large crossovers that serve as replacements for full-on sport/utilities as well as minivans here.
Ford unveiled the Escape Wednesday at the Los Angeles International Auto Show. The new model does share one thing in common with the F-150, and indeed the new Focus and Fiesta: It tries to be the compact crossover for everyone, with a long list of features that allows aspiring and luxury buyers alike to load up the option sheet without paying for a prestige name. Like the Focus Titanium vs. the Verano, it could compete with Buicks.
The '13 Escape's carryover 2.5-liter four will be a price leader engine accounting for just 10 percent of sales, mostly to rental fleets. Its mainstream "replacement" is a new 1.6-liter EcoBoost rated at 173 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque, while the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four will replace the 3.0-liter V-6 and make "at least" 237 horsepower and 250 lb-ft. Ford expects the EcoBoost engines to split the other 90 percent of sales.