It may be a mild shock to realize the Ford Escape's base price now sits in the mid-$20,000 range, and that it's possible to spend nearly $38,000 on a fully loaded model--when a base Land Rover Range Rover Evoque starts at just under $45,000.
However, even the base 2013 Escape S has standard equipment that wasn't even on the radar when the crossover first emerged back in 2001--features like a USB port for media player connectivity. The base Escape S, at $23,295, also comes with air conditioning; an AM/FM/CD player with six speakers; an auxiliary jack; power windows; cloth seats; and the 2.5-liter four-cylinder and the six-speed automatic.
The Escape SE, at $25,895, adds on standard satellite radio; 17-inch wheels; keypad entry on the door frame; and Ford's Bluetooth-driven SYNC controller, which uses voice commands to run phone and audio systems, with information displayed on a 4.0-inch color screen.
For $28,695, the Escape SEL ventures deeply into luxury territory with leather seating and heated front seats; ambient lighting; and dual-zone climate control. It also implants a media hub in the center console, bundling two USB ports, a set of RCA jacks for gaming systems, and an SD card slot for music or data.
The SEL also gets the latest version of MyFord Touch, the touchscreen-and-voice system that Ford's introduced in the past two years to take over operations of many secondary systems, including the Escape's available navigation system, as well as SYNC-driven phone and audio systems. We do think it's cleaner and easier to navigate now, though it's still five or six voice commands to find a simple hotel listing in San Francisco. We did notice that the Escape has a volume knob and a simpler climate-control interface with knobs and buttons--whereas, first-gen MyFord Touch crossovers like the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX had swipe-sensitive strips for those functions that rarely responded quickly or evenly to the touch. Here's to improvement--and to the same small steps of retreat we've seen at BMW with iDrive and at Audi, with MMI.
Opt into the most expensive $31,195 Escape Titanium and you get the 240-hp four standard, along with more luxury features--heated mirrors, 19-inch wheels, pushbutton start, and fog lamps. You'll also get a hands-free tailgate, which lets you wave a foot under the bumper to open or close the tailgate automatically.
Major options on various Escape models include a panoramic sunroof; pushbutton start; navigation system; Sony sound system; HD radio; remote start; hands-free liftgate; active park assist; 18-inch wheels; a towing package; and of course, the more powerful EcoBoost engine and all-wheel drive.