Test Drive: 2013 Ford Escape Titanium

2013 Ford Escape

Initially, you might not think of the Ford Escape as a luxury vehicle. But, one glance at the newly redesigned crossover, and you might reconsider.

Fans of The Amazing Race should remember the Escape, with its MyFord Touch voice recognition system, and hands-free liftgate that opens with the swipe of a foot. This was the vehicle that lovable Chippendale dancers James and Jaymes were awarded for winning a crucial leg of the race, and that James (or was it Jaymes?) was elated to have won for his mom.

Whether you’re a racer, a Chippendale, a mom or just your average, busy Arizonan seeking a stylish, powerful, versatile vehicle, the Escape should make your test drive list. Escape is already the best-selling SUV in the country, and with eleven new, exclusive technology features, it is sure to appeal to the 60 percent of car buyers looking for either a mid-sized sedan or small SUV this year.

Luxury buyers will want to look to the Titanium edition of the Escape for the ultimate in comfort and convenience. It comes equipped with the aforementioned features, plus leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-trimmed seats, premium sound system, heated front seats, and a bevy of advanced safety systems (including rear parking sensors, intelligent access with keyless push-button start, and remote start, for a base price below $35,000. Even when you add additional technologies, such as the HD/Sirius Satellite Radio/Navigation package ($795) and the Parking Technology Package ($995), the sticker still stays below $35k.

What is the Parking Technology Package, you ask. One feature is Active Park Assist, and here’s how it works. So, you’re out shopping at, let’s say, Scottsdale Quarter or Kierland Commons, and are fortunate enough to find a prime parking on the street. Pros: Great parking spots. Cons: Will the vehicle fit in the space; parallel parking can be nerve-wracking. In the Escape, you simply slow down, activate park assist, and the sensors measure the distance to the curb and between parked cars. Once the system detects a big enough space, it will signal you to stop and accept assistance. You control the braking and accelerating, but the system guides the car smoothly into place.

On the road, this package includes cross-traffic alert and blind spot monitoring system. Four-wheel drive is also available, and the Escape combines class-exclusive technology to automatically slow the vehicle when it’s cornering too fast (Curve Control) or help accelerate through a turn (Torque Vectoring Control).

The voice-recognition system with MyFord Touch is stellar, in my opinion. My complaint with other systems, including Siri on my iPhone, has been that, in order to be understood, I have to speak very slowly, pausing between words. And even then, it only works about 50 percent of the time. Not so with MyFord Touch. It seamlessly understood and executed commands better than most people I know.

2013 Ford EscapeDiverging from the boxy appearance of its predecessor, the new Escape has a striking new look, with angular head and taillamps, a sloping roofline, an aggressive stance and split front grille. With soft-touch materials and pleasant ambient lighting, the interior rivals that of any luxury SUV, as do the standard amenities. Powered by a 240-horsepower I-4 engine with EcoBoost, it is powerful and efficient as well.

Good looking, smart, efficient and powerful – Escape is desirable in many ways, and is the epitome of affordable luxury.

Vital stats:

Pricing and trim levels: S ($22,470) – 2.5L iVCT I-4 engine, 6-speed SelectShift Automatic® transmission, 17-inch steel wheels with painted wheel covers; SE ($25,070) – 1.6L EcoBoost® I-4 engine, dual chrome exhaust tips, fog lamps; SEL ($28,170) – Heated exterior mirrors; 18-inch painted alloy wheels, SYNC® with MyFord® Touch (dual USB ports, RCA inputs and SD card reader); Titanium ($30,370) – Hands-free power liftgate, 19-inch Luster Nickel painted alloy wheels, Intelligent Access with push-button start

Engine: 2.0L EcoBoost® I-4 engine; 240 horsepower (Titanium trim level)

Fuel Economy (city/highway): 22/30

Safety Ratings: Second highest 4-star overall ranking from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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