Ford Escape Titanium Is Pricey But Tech-Laden
Let’s start with the shocking part, the price. The Ford Escape is listed at $34,735.
Granted this was the top-of-the-line 2013 Escape Titanium 4WD, but that price is near premium small-SUV territory, one where you expect a luxury nameplate. By adding the Titanium moniker it means you get a load of tech features and the powerful 2.0-liter GTDI I4 EcoBoost engine that cranks an impressive 237 horsepower.EcoBoost is a turbocharged four-cylinder that delivers monster power and normally delivers better gas mileage than a V6 with equivalent power. I got a ho-hum 20.5 mpg in about 60% city driving. The EPA has rated this model at 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, so I expected better.
If you like power in your small SUV, the Escape delivers in excess. You can zip away from stoplights, and the six-speed SelectShift automatic is fairly smooth.
Escape feels pretty upscale, and the interior is quiet. Handling edges toward sporty, but with a heavy wheel feel. There is some lean in turns though.
Ride is on the firm side despite Escape’s 105.9-inch wheelbase. Part of that may be its 19-inch low-profile tires. Low-pros deliver a notoriously stiff ride.
Braking comes from four-wheel discs, the front being vented, and this model comes with full-time all-wheel drive. Properly equipped, Escape can tow up to 3,500 pounds, allowing you to haul a small camper or aluminum fishing boat.
The Titanium trim upgrades to partial leather seats, these being a black leather and cloth mix. The tech upgrades include rear parking sensors and a power hatch. There also are fog lamps, roof rack and rails, a 10-way power driver’s seat with three memory settings, heated front seats (five levels), remote start, heated side mirrors, a premium sound system, Sync voice-activated stereo system and tire pressure monitors.
Yet even with all that, and the Titanium’s higher entry price of $32,130 plus $825 destination charge, the test SUV added MyFord Touch/HD Sirius radio with navigation system for $795, and a parking technology package that includes blind-spot detection, active park assist and a rear-view camera for $995. That accounted for the tester’s nearly $35,000 sticker.
If you can do without some electronic doodads, a base Escape S with front-wheel drive starts at $22,470. It’s powered by a 2.5-liter I4 that creates a reasonable 168 horsepower and earns it a 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway rating. Moving up to the SE model with AWD puts the price at $26,820.
Inside, those partial leather seats are powered and easy to adjust. There is a power lumbar support, and headroom is good up front while legroom is limited in back, especially if a front seat is moved most of the way back. The Escape will carry four average-size adults comfortably, with generous luggage space (34.3 cubic feet) behind the second seat. I liked the power hatch, too.Escape’s attractive gauges feature neon blue needles that offer great visibility day or night. There’s a tilt-telescope steering wheel, with the usual assortment of controls on the hub, including flat round TV remote-style buttons for the radio and trip computer. Large clunky plastic controls hang off the hub for phone and cruise controls.
The radio is less than intuitive and a pain to operate while driving. There is the Sync system created by Microsoft that allows you to call up tunes by voice command. That could help alleviate the complicated audio control situation.
Ford’s large navigation/radio screen is easy to see, but the touch-screen buttons for radio channel selection are tiny, making them hard to use while driving.
Never underestimate the power of good design. The new Escape is snazzy-looking with more aggressive styling than the old boxy model. Some say it looks like Kia’s Sportage.
You may be surprised to find out though that Ford no longer makes an Escape hybrid. A gas-electric version is expected and the hybrid is replaced by a 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine that creates 178 horsepower and is rated 24 mpg city and 33 highway. The former hybrid Escape was rated 34 mpg city. That’s a pretty big gap.One final note: As of this writing there have been three recalls on the 2013 Escape since it was introduced in July. Ironically, that echoes what happened when the original Escapes were unveiled years ago. The latest recall is on models with 1.6-liter engines and is for a cup plug in the cylinder head possibly coming loose, allowing coolant to spray on the hot engine and ignite. This is the second recall for possible engine fires in the new Escape.
Mark Savage welcomes your questions and comments regarding new vehicles at Savageonwheels@yahoo.com.