Making its world debut at the 2011 LA Auto Show was the redesigned 2013 Ford Escape and we were there to catch it in the flesh.
While the old Escape had more of the look of a rough-and-tumble SUV, Ford went the opposite way with the new Escape. The redesigned exterior screams "crossover" more than "SUV" with a front that looks very similar to the new look debuted on the 2012 Focus than anything else. The windshield angles back sharply and the blacked out B and C pillars (seen below) give the windows the "wraparound" look that's been popular of late. It's a brand new look for the Escape and one we think will serve it well as the rest of the segment has moved away from a more tradition SUV-stance of late, as Ford did with the redesigned Explorer last year.
The rear of the Escape is dominated by a large glass window (seen above) and taillights which wrap around the sides and almost seem to be pointing forward.
Under the hood, the 2013 Escape gets major changes as well. The base engine will be an updated version of the current 2.5-liter four-cylinder that will output 168-horsepower, but the big news comes in a pair of EcoBoost (read: turbocharged) engines. First is an efficient, 173-horsepower, 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder which Ford says will increase the Escape's fuel economy ratings by five mpg. Replacing the V-6 engine option is a 237-horsepower, 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder that should also provide better fuel economy than its predecessor. Each engine will come mated to a new six-speed automatic that offers manual shifting.
We also had a chance to climb into the new Escape to check out its new interior and we are happy to report that it's a big upgrade over the previous version. It appears more modern and up-to-date, with better materials all around, especially on touch points. There are a few plastic trim pieces which detract from the overall look, but for cars in this segment it's nearly impossible to avoid a little interior plastic. The Titanium trim we had a chance to check out was clad in black leather with contrast stitching and the seats were comfortable, even in the rear. If we had to nitpick, our one complaint would be with the center console: the various dials and switchgear are not very clearly labeled and we can foresee some stumbling around in the cabin as a result. The new Escape will also offer MyFord Touch, which Ford says has been improved in the latest iteration for more ease of use.
One of the highlights that we saw of the redesigned Escape was its class-exclusive power rear liftgate. And Ford has taken that liftgate even further and given you the ability to open it hands-free, without even using the keyfob. If you have the keyfob on your person, all you have to to do is approach the rear of the Escape, place your foot under the rear of the bumper and voila, the liftgate opens. You know you have a killer feature when engineers from a rival American car company (seen at right) are crawling under your vehicle looking perplexed.
The redesigned 2013 Ford Escape should make its way to dealers sometime in mid-2012, so keep an eye out for our complete model overview sometime around then.