Ford gambles big saying bu-bye to boxy
By Colum Wood
Apr. 24, 2012

If it ainít broke, replace it. That, at least, seems to be the motto at Ford when it comes to the brandís Escape compact crossover.

Truthfully, the previous Escape was not without its flaws, many of which were simply the result of it being an old product. And yet people flocked to Ford dealers to trade in whatever they could in order to buy an Escape. What, then, made the truck-styled cute-ute a top choice for so many consumers? And yes, we did just answer our own question. Its looks, of course.

Itís shocking then, at least at first, that Ford would move away from the rugged, masculine and quintessentially American design in favor of a look thatís sleek, stylish and downright European. The reasons for the dramatic change are many and include everything from Fordís new design philosophy to a larger plan to build cars globally. Boxy compact crossovers might work in America, but as far as Europeans are concerned, Ford might as well try and sell them a Crown Victoria.

COMPACT STYLE, BUT MORE SPACE

With its sleek new style the Escape may now look more compact than its predecessor, though itís actually larger, stretching four-inches more in length, with a two-inch longer wheelbase and an extra inch in width. It is, however, roughly in inch lower overall and loses a half-inch of ground clearance.

Interior room is up slightly, particularly in the rear seat, with one extra inch of legroom. Likewise, cargo room has been increased slightly to 34 cu-ft behind the 2nd row and 68 cu-ft total.

With the added size also comes added weight Ė a surprise considering most other automakers are shedding pounds in an effort to improve fuel economy. Overall, the 2013 Escape is in excess of 100 lbs heavier than its predecessor, or even more if youíre comparing it to the base 2012 model with the manual transmission Ė an option Ford axed for 2013 with the automatic now standard.

Regardless of the weight gain, fuel economy has been improved significantly, due both to engine technology as well as a shape thatís 10 percent more aerodynamic than the old brick-on-wheels design.

THREE FUEL-EFFICIENT ENGINE OPTIONS
The base 2.5-liter four-cylinder, about the only carry over item from the old Escape, is now rated at 22/31 mpg, up 1 mpg in the city and 3 mpg on the highway. (All mpg ratings are for front-drive models). Power numbers are down, but only minutely.

Replacing the V6 option for 2013 is an EcoBoost 2.0-liter 4-cylinder making use of both turbocharging and direct injection. Itís rated at 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque (an increase of 47 lb-ft), while fuel economy jumps 3 mpg in the city and an impressive 5 mpg on the highway.

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