2013 Ford Escape EcoBoost 2.0-liter, Pennsylvania, April 2013Enlarge Photo
Modern, competent, comfortable
Frequent fillups aside, the 2013 Ford Escape proved to be a comfortable and up-to-date vehicle in which to cover lots of miles.
The cloth-and-leather seats in our Platinum model were both attractive and comfortable over our longest day.
The seat heaters, on the other hand, were so aggressive that we couldn't endure more than about 10 minutes even on the lowest setting. That, we suspect, is very much a First World Problem.
The interior mixes soft-touch and harder plastics, but is very similar to that of the C-Max we'd already driven (which is built on similar underpinnings), so it was familiar and worked well.
We give Ford credit for retaining a round volume adjustment knob for the radio rather than pushbuttons. The Escape also has knobs for the climate control system, so raising and lowering the temperature is similarly easy and intuitive.
We were disappointed with how little storage space was available on the console for our sunglasses, change, toll tickets, mobile phones, and the like.
Good handling, but body roll
It handles nicely and we found it relatively pleasant to toss around curvy country roads, although it sits high, meaning you have to get comfortable with the sensation of more body roll than you would in a sedan.
The electric power steering was about average; not as good in feel as the stellar system in the Mazda CX-5 (still our favorite crossover for driver experience and roadholding), but better than almost anything that Toyota makes.
One unusual feature of the engine noise was that on occasion, the engine stayed at lower speeds (well below 2000 rpm) when we'd have expected the six-speed automatic transmission to have downshifted.
Instead, we heard it making a low-pitched growling noise--today's equivalent of what older drivers used to call "lugging" the engine.
The car responded fine, and shifted down if we accelerated, but the noise was just enough to be noticeable--yet another side effect of stretching for every last tenth of a mile per gallon, we suspect.
The C-Max Hybrid uses active noise cancellation to offset similar sounds in that car, but the Escape does not.
One final note on gas mileage: The Escape 2.0-liter produces good mileage numbers on level ground, but keeping your foot into it predictably cuts efficiency a lot.
On the first part of our trip, running up and down the hills of central New York State, we rarely saw even 20 mpg. Once we hit freeways, the numbers slowly rose.
The 2.0-liter Escape Titanium model with all-wheel drive carries a base price of $32,120.
Included as standard are the Titanium technology package, a tonneau cover over the load bay, the roof rack, high-intensity discharge automatic headlamps, the neat power liftgate, and rear sensors to compensate for the lack of rear visibility and aid in parking.
But our 2013 Ford Escape Titanium 4WD had a bottom-line sticker price of $34,735. That represented the addition of a $795 package that bundled MyFordTouch, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a navigation system, and another $995 for the parking technology package.
With the mandatory $825 delivery fee, our top-of-the-line Escape essentially cost $35,000 before tax, title, license, and insurance fees.