The 2013 Ford Escape hits the market this spring with the best estimated fuel economy numbers in the compact crossover class--they're as much as 5 mpg better than previous Escape, and in a tight race with some crossovers that sit a half-size smaller.
Ford credits lots of engineering sweat equity for the Escape's 25-percent fuel-economy improvement. The smaller-displacement, turbocharged engines sport direct injection, and the Escape is almost 10 percent more aerodynamically sleek than the 2001-2012 model. The new Escape also gets active aero shutters on all but the 2.0-liter versions; the shutters close at highway speeds to smooth airflow over the grille, cutting wind resistance and as a result, boosting fuel economy.
With the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder, Ford estimates fuel economy will be rated by the EPA at 22 miles per gallon city, 31 miles per gallon highway. It's offered only with an automatic transmission, as are the other powerplants, but it's not offered with all-wheel drive.
Both of the turbocharged four-cylinders can be fitted with all-wheel drive, which may drop estimated fuel economy numbers provided by Ford. The smaller 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is pegged at 23/33 mpg, again with the six-speed automatic transmission--it's the best-ever numbers for the Escape lineup, save for the now-discontinued Hybrid model, and tied with the ratings for the smaller Hyundai Tucson.
The most powerful model, the 2.0-liter turbo four, is listed at 22/30 mpg. It's effectively a replacement for the old V-6 engine option, and handily outpaces that powerplant's 19/25-mpg EPA rating.
All-wheel drive lowers combined fuel economy by 1 mpg in both cases where it's offered.
In our 150-mile test drive of this model, we saw an indicated 20.8 mpg, over roads that ranged from wide, sweeping two-laners, to six-lane interstates, to rugged two-laners through national parks. Our heavily optioned vehicle had all-wheel drive, but not the panoramic sunroof; carried two adult passengers; and had more than the usual break-in mileage. We'll report back when we've experienced other powertrains, and observed more fuel-economy runs in the new Escape, before we judge whether the EPA figures are overly optimistic.