Today at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Ford takes the wraps off one of its most significant new vehicles, the 2013 Ford Escape compact crossover.
It's the first new-from-the-ground-up Escape in more than 10 years, and the 2013 model brings a sleeker and more aerodynamic look, plus a pair of new EcoBoost engine options for better fuel efficiency.
Ford projects that the 2013 Escape will offer best-in-class gas mileage ratings, with numbers up to 5 mpg higher than the outgoing model. You'll look in vain for the Escape Hybrid model, though; Ford has killed it off, transferring its hybrid efforts to the upcoming C-Max five-seat small minivan.
The 2013 Ford Escape also offers a host of new convenience features, from a hands-free power liftgate to the latest version of the MyFordTouch voice-activated infotainment and vehicle control system.
Overall, Ford highlights 11 features in the new Escape that are either all-new or have never appeared in compact crossovers before.
Growing global segment
Because it's built on the same compact platform used for the Ford Focus compact sedan and hatchback, the new Escape will be a global vehicle. It'll be sold as the Kuga in Europe and China, with different engines and features for those markets.
The compact crossover segment is large and growing; Ford says that roughly 60 percent of U.S. buyers next year will look at either a mid-size car or a compact sport-utility vehicle.
As old as it now is, the outgoing 2012 Escape remains among the best-selling entrant in the class. That vehicle, first launched for 2001, competes head-to-head with newer entries from Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Chevrolet, and Nissan.
So there's a lot riding on the new Escape. Here's our rundown of the significant features.
Longer, sleeker, less truck-like
The 2013 Ford Escape may be the clearest example of the move away from truck-like profiles for small crossovers. The old Escape was tall, slab-sided, and imposing for its size; the 2013 redesign is longer, lower, and considerably smoother and sleeker, with actual "styling" effect like accent lines.
The third window on each side kicks up at the bottom to meet the drooping roofline, rather than the old Escape's rectangular windows and straight-line roof.
Overall, Ford says the new Escape has a drag coefficient 10 percent lower than the outgoing model--meaning it will use less fuel to overcome wind resistance at higher speeds.
Getting into the new Escape is easier with less of a step up, and the interior feels much more car-like. Thicker pillars and a more raked windshield and tailgate, however, cut the sense of light and airiness of the old model.
Easy-fold seats, more load space
The rear seats incorporate a simple fold-flat mechanism that requires just the pull of a strap on top of the seat back. That causes the headrests to fold down, and the seat back to fold onto the cushion.
The rear-seat headrests can also be folded down just by pushing a button, to improve rearward visibility when no passengers are riding in the rear seat.
The added length in the 2013 Escape provides a larger load bay with a longer floor than today's model. It holds 34.3 cubic feet behind the second seat and 68.1 cubic feet behind the front seats. The new Escape also has a considerably lower lift-over height of just 27 inches.
Three engines, two EcoBoost
Ford is offering a choice of three gasoline engines, and no hybrid, for the 2013 Escape. The EPA hasn't rated them for gas mileage yet, and Ford hasn't released complete projections for all versions.
The base engine, available only in the lowest-level S model, is an adaptation of the current 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, mated to a six-speed automatic.
The middle engine option is a 1.6-liter EcoBoost direct-injected and turbocharged four, also paired with the six-speed automatic. This engine will deliver mileage up to 5 mpg better, Ford says, than any previous Escape.