(Continued: Page 2 of 2)
The home screen, for example, seems less cluttered. The various menus have received redesigns that space their buttons and options more logically for at-a-glance access. A great deal of attention has been paid to typeface size during this revision, so text labels for virtual buttons are larger and easier to read and tap, while text size for song titles isn't as comically large as it used to be and requires less horizontal scrolling. However, there are a few places where work is needed. The audio source selection buttons are somehow still too small to be accurately tapped yet still too large to fit onscreen without hiding half of them behind a scroll button.
The interface itself is divided into four quarters, each of which features a persistent shortcut that lives in one of the four corners of the screen.
Hands-free calling has been an area where the Ford Sync system has excelled in the past, a tradition that continues with the Escape's MyFord Touch system. When pairing with a phone and during each subsequent reconnection, the full contacts list is uploaded to the car and can be accessed via voice command. Incoming calls display caller ID data from the contact list and, if your phone supports it, a contact photo can be displayed alongside the name.
In addition to hands-free calling, Sync now supports text messaging. When parked, incoming messages can be read aloud with a tap of a button on the steering wheel without taking your eyes off of the road. You can also activate a Do Not Disturb mode that silences all incoming text notifications and automatically sends unimportant calls to voice mail. You can also set up customizable canned responses that can be fired off at the touch of a button to let callers and texters know that you're busy driving and will get back to them shortly.
The Escape accepts nearly the full gamut of car audio sources, including AM/FM terrestrial radio with HD Radio decoding, SirusXM Satellite Radio, two USB ports with iPod compatibility, Bluetooth for audio streaming, an analog auxiliary input, and CD playback. With an iPod device connected and an HD Radio station playing, users gain the option to iTunes tag any song they hear playing for later purchase in the iTunes store. All audio sources, in the case of our test car, were pumped through a Sony-branded audio system that sounds pretty good.
Navigation doesn't come standard on the Escape, even as part of the SEL and Titanium trim levels' MyFord Touch systems. It is available as an option. Ford's navigation system, like the rest of MyFord Touch, has proven to be problematic in the past. Issues have ranged from instability to inaccuracy of positioning. However, none of these problems manifested during our week with the 2013 Ford Escape, so it would seem that the kinks have been, for the most part, worked out.
Power train and performance
At the Titanium trim level, the Escape is powered by a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine that makes use of turbocharging and direct-injection technology. Power is rated at 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque with a tank full of premium gasoline -- although it will run just fine with 87-octane regular fuel as well. That engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that sends power to either the front axle or, if you optioned the 4WD model, the rear. The 2013 model's all-wheel-drive system is completely new and is able to shuffle up to 100 percent of available torque to either end of the vehicle, which is better than the 50/50 maximum split that you get from most crossovers. The system is also smoother and more responsive, supposedly able to react to changes in grip 20 times faster than you can blink.
Fuel economy for our 2.0-liter EcoBoost Titanium is estimated at 24 mpg combined, 21 mpg in the city, and 28 mpg on the highway.
At the lower S, SE, and SEL trim levels, the Escape is also available with a 178-horsepower, 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine and a 168-horsepower, 2.5-liter naturally aspirated mill.
Regardless of engine and other drivetrain options, the Escape comes standard with AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control, which helps to keep the shiny side up when grip gets dicey, and a system called Curve Control, which automatically slows the vehicle down when you go into a corner too fast. There's also a Torque Vectoring system that shifts power from left to right across the driving axle to aid in getting power to the wheel with the best available grip.
To Escape from your local Ford dealership behind the wheel of this 2013 model, you'll need to be ready to part with at least $22,470 for the base S model. However, to get away with a Titanium model like our tester, you'll have to step up to an MSRP of $30,370. At that level, you get smart keyless entry and start, the hands-free liftgate, Sync with MyFord Touch for hands-free calling and digital audio, a power driver's seat, the Sony premium audio system, and a host of other niceties. If you live in a place that's not sunny California and want the 4WD system to deal with changing weather conditions, then you're talking $32,120.
Our tester also came equipped with the $995 Parking Technology Package, which you definitely want for the Active Park Assist (even if you are a pretty good parallel parker) and BLIS with cross traffic alert, and the $795 navigation upgrade, which behaved well during this test, but has proven to be problematic with other MyFord Touch vehicles in the past. We were also treated to the $895 Full Leather Front Bucket Seats option, which you could take or leave. Add an $825 destination charge to reach our as-tested price of $35,630.
|Model||2013 Ford Escape|
|Power train||2.0-liter EcoBoost I-4, turbocharged and direct-injected, 6-speed automatic transmission, optional 4WD system|
|EPA fuel economy||21 city, 28 highway, 24 combined mpg|
|Observed fuel economy||n/a|
|Bluetooth phone support||Yes, with voice command, address book sync, and MAP text messaging support|
|Disc player||single-slot CD|
|MP3 player support||Standard analog 3.5mm auxiliary input, 2 USB connections with iPod connectivity, Bluetooth audio streaming|
|Other digital audio||HD Radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio|
|Audio system||Sony premium audio system|
|Driver aids||Standard rear proximity detection
Optional Active Park Assist, BLIS blind-spot and cross-traffic alert, rear camera
|Price as tested||$35,630|