What It Is
The wholly new Escape packs a 4-cyl. turbo engine, a myriad of infotainment gadgets, and sporty handling into a small 4-door SUV.
Retail Price: $34,305
240-hp turbo EcoBoost engine
Parallel parking system (optional)
Leg-activated rear liftgate
So-so fuel economy
Options quickly jack up price
The 2013 Ford Escape with the EcoBoost engine is a fun-to-drive small SUV that’s perfectly suited for urban dwellers and gadget geeks looking for SUV functionality (cargo space, 4WD) with the power to scream up high-altitude, snow-packed mountain passes. Buyers who live in cities should pay the extra $1k for the self-parallel parking system—it’s amazing.
2013 Ford Escape, EcoBoost 4WD
Cargo Capacity 7/10
Passenger Count 5/10
Fuel Economy 5/10
Off-Road Capability 7/10
Power & Handling 9/10
Gear Institute Rating (Total Score) 81/100
Weight: 3,769 lbs
Engine: 2.0-liter, 4-cyl. turbo
Power & Handling
The EcoBoost 4WD is the performance version of the top-selling Escape and as such its sticker price is roughly $10k more than the base-model Escape with front-wheel drive and a less-powerful engine. But that extra dough means you get a vehicle that’s as user-friendly in downtown Manhattan as it is in downtown Bozeman, Montana.
On a steep freeway incline climbing from 6,000 to 8,000 feet, the turbo had no problem staying with, and passing at 80 mph, the BMW’s and Audi’s on their way to Colorado’s ski towns. On the twisting road back down to Denver, the Escape’s handling felt more car-like than SUV with a nicely balanced steering wheel that returned just enough road feel to keep me from getting too aggressive.
The Escape’s ride was firmer than I expected, which was welcome when I was attacking a twisting canyon road or ripping around street corners, but on an hour-long freeway run, the bump-da-bump of the concrete roadway started to annoy me, especially for a fully loaded vehicle with a $35,000 sticker.
The visibility out the rear window wasn’t spectacular but the optional rear-view camera was a blessing—I recommend upgrading to get one.
I got the most out of the Escape in the city. Its self-parking system was able to squeeze me into parallel parking spots I didn’t think would work. All I did was turn the system on while driving slowly down a street, stop when the system had identified a spot, and then take my hands off the wheel and foot off the brake. The car then parked itself, sliding perfectly into the space.
Another cool gadget: When I was approaching the rear hatch with my hands full of gear, all I had to do was wave my foot under the rear bumper to activate and open the power liftgate.
The large touchscreen in the center of the dash controls everything, which is great for a passenger, but for a driver—not so much. It’s not very convenient when you can’t feel the difference between turning up the heat and turning up the stereo’s volume while barreling down a congested city street at night. It’ll take some time to grow comfortable with it, but in the meantime the level of data available and intuitive interface only add to the tech savvy-nature of this Ford.
Cargo & People
The front seats on the Escape are supportive, even during hard driving or long interstate runs. The 2nd row won’t win any comfort awards, but there’s plenty of legroom and shoulder room for 6-footers such as me. You can fit three people in the rear, but realistically, the bench seat has room for two. Behind that, the cargo area could hold a golden retriever in relative comfort or four 5,000 cu. in. backpacks stuffed for a week on the AT.
Fold the rear seats down and there’s enough room for two adult bikes (front wheels removed) or a three sets of skis/snowboards. The 60/40 seat split allows you to take 2 buddies up to the ski hill and keep the sticks inside.
How We Tested It
Over the course of a week in December, the Escape was driven 106 miles throughout urban/suburban Denver with a test run into the foothills to review power at altitude and handling. Approximately 50 miles were at interstate speeds of 60+ mph. Temperatures were below freezing at night and for most of the day. Weather was sunny with a brief snowfall that made the streets icy for a day.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
Ford Escape, EcoBoost 4WD review