AboutThatCar.com: 2013 Ford Escape

By Frank S. Washington Contributing Writer | 8/30/2013, 1:04 p.m.

Well, I’ll be doggone, it works.

That was my thought as I tested my 2013 Ford Escape’s lift gate that automatically opened as I flicked my foot under the bumper. I remember seeing the vehicle at the Detroit auto show earlier in the year and that feature was hailed as breakthrough technology.

To my knowledge, the Ford Escape is the only utility vehicle in the industry that employs motion sensors to activate its power lift gate. When you think about it, that’s not a bad attribute. The feature deletes the need to fumble for keys, the key fob or anything else when trying to get an armload of packages into the vehicle. Just wave your foot under the rear bumper and the lift gate opens.

The feature is part of a fierce technology assault that Ford is using in the American market with a good bit of success. A second piece of technology on my test vehicle was under the hood.

My 2013 Ford Escape was powered by Ford’s new 1.6-liter EcoBoost four cylinder engine. It is the first use of this engine in America. The four-cylinder turbocharged power plant makes 178 horsepower and 184 foot-pounds of torque. Mated to a six speed automatic transmission, the combination gave the test vehicle an EPA rating of 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

The application of power from the 1.6-liter engine was excellent. Acceleration was so authoritative that I thought the 1.6 was actually the 2.0-liter EcoBoost which makes 240 horsepower. The 1.6-liter EcoBoost is really a snappy engine.

For 2013, the Escape has two EcoBoost engines, the 1.6-liter as well as the 2.0-liter engine. The standard powerplant is a 2.5-liter four cylinder engine that makes 168 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. That gives the 2013 Ford Escape an engine family comprised of three four cylinders, all of them fuel efficient. My only quibble is that to get the best result from the EcoBoost engines premium fuel is required.

More of an improvement than innovation was Ford’s SYNC® with MyFord Touch®. It offered multiple ways for customers to manage and control information through voice commands, menus accessed through controls on the steering wheel, touch screens, buttons, knobs, or by voice. The upgraded system includes a new look, making phone, navigation, entertainment and climate controls even easier to use.

That’s what Ford said. For me, the key was I didn’t need to consult the owner’s manual to pair my Smartphone and the voice control was superb. I could speak in a natural voice and my commands were followed.

Overall, my 2013 Ford Escape was very comfortable. The seats provided plenty of lower back support, the sight lines were good and the vehicle was not oversized. In other words, I didn’t feel like the other vehicles were dwarfed by my Escape. After all it was a small utility vehicle.

The instrument layout was what I call the butterfly look. Elongated vents on either side of the instruments reminded me of butterfly wings. The control screen was atop vertically and then there was a shelf beneath it that held the audio controls. Then it dropped down to the climate controls and the gear shift, which had a manual option, was beneath. And as the controls angled down into the center console, there were controls for the heated seats.

My second quibble was there was a lot of piano black as well as silver satin. I would have liked a textured surface better.

I was surprised at the ease at which I was able to enter the rear doors. Once in the back seats it seemed like my seated hip point was level with my hip point while standing. Those rear seats were quite comfortable. And the almost flat floor made me think that a third person could sit in the rear in relative comfort.

My test vehicle did not have a rearview camera, nor did it have a navigation system or sun roof. Still, I didn’t think anything was lacking. My 2013 Ford Escape SEL 4WD was a capable everyday driver designed for hauling, people and their stuff comfortably.

As tested, my 2013 Ford Escape was $32,835.