The Ford Escape is one of the most popular compact crossovers on the market today, and its all-new 2013 model goes head-to-head with the Honda CRV and Toyota RAV4.
Both of those vehicles were redesigned in 2012 or 2013, so crossover competition is now fierce.
We spent six days with a pale green ("Ginger Ale Metallic") 2013 Ford Escape Titanium 4WD with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine.
This is the top-of-the-line Escape, with a sticker price of almost $35,000--against the starting price of $23,365 for the almost nonexistent 2.5-liter Escape base model.
After surveying a number of auto writers, it appears that in many cities (including ours), Ford only gives out the nicest, priciest Escape models for media drives.
So right now, our gas mileage test only applies to this engine and drive configuration. We hope to test lesser Escapes in the future.
Rather to our surprise, our 2013 Escape was EPA-rated at just 24 mpg combined (21 mpg city, 28 mpg highway).
The most fuel-efficient Escape is the front-wheel drive model with the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine, rated at 26 mpg combined.
Add all-wheel drive to the 1.6-liter model, and the combined number drops 1 mpg to 25 mpg. Or if you want the bigger 240-hp, 2.0-liter engine but can forgo the AWD, you'll also find a 25-mpg rating.
Of course, those numbers are nothing like the 32 mpg combined rating of the late, lamented Escape Hybrid (the front-wheel drive model), which went out of production after the 2012 model year.
Over the course of an 838-mile trip that took us through five states, we pretty much nailed the EPA combined rating.
We got 23. 9 miles per gallon, though during most of our fairly hilly trip, the reading was not that good.
But three solid hours of Interstate cruising on flat roads with a net downslope back to our sea-level destination boosted the recorded mileage enough to where we'd deem the EPA's rating of 24 mpg combined a reasonable expectation.
(Unlike the 47-mpg combined ratings in Ford's newest C-Max and Fusion hybrids. But that's another story.)
Filling up HOW often?
The most startling thing about our 2013 Escape was that it needed to have its gas tank refilled in less than 300 miles
The "low gas" warning light went off the first time with 246 miles on the trip odometer--and we'd received the car with a full tank indicated.
The second time it happened, we'd logged 266 miles.
Yes, we know there's a lot of leeway between the time the light goes on and the last drop in the tank. But still: 250 miles between fillups? RLY?
The 2013 Ford Escape is listed as having a 15.1-gallon tank, which would provide roughly 350 miles of range.
That's among the smallest in compact crossovers, but perhaps Ford has programmed its low-gas light to be exceptionally conservative.
In our 800-plus-mile trip, we put gas in the Escape three times.
You have been warned..