The compact crossover segment is a crowded one today, but 12 years ago, there were just a few contenders vying for consumers’ dollars. Among them was Ford’s then-new 2001 Ford Escape. Although pre-dated by the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V by one generation, several key competitors had not yet come on to the scene, including the Hyundai Tucson, Chevrolet Equinox, and GMC Terrain, among many others.
At the time, the Escape was a fresh entry in the segment, and we summed up our impressions of it in a four-way comparison by saying, “The Escape is ideal for those who want the convenience of an Explorer without its size or pricetag.” Although the Escape didn’t take first place in the comparison, the judges lauded its practicality and generous cargo space (for its size.)
The next big development for the Escape was the introduction of a hybrid model for the 2005 model year, which was a major development for the market segment, which hadn’t seen a hybrid entry up to that time, and hasn’t since.
The 2008 model year showed the most extensive changes to the Escape yet, with a bolder, more truck-like front grille, and a comprehensively refreshed interior. Although the refresh was generally a positive development all the way around, it did see the rear brakes go from available rear discs to rear drums across-the-board.
Although the 2008 update was fairly comprehensive, it was still based on the original chassis that debuted seven years earlier. What should have been a full redesign was merely a thorough mid-cycle refresh.
Well, for 2013, the Escape is finally getting the attention it’s deserved, and it looks like it’s worth the wait. The 2013 ditches its boxy, truckish profile for the Kinetic theme of the European Kuga crossover, which the new Escape is the next-generation model of.
Both the V-6 and the Hybrid models are dropped in favor of EcoBoost four-cylinders, in 1.6 and 2.0-liter sizes. The hybrid hole in the lineup is essentially going to be filled by the upcoming C-Max, and with a burly 270 lb-ft of torque, the 2.0 EcoBoost out-twists the old 3.0 V-6 by 47 lb-ft, and matches its maximum towing capacity of 3500 pounds, so we doubt many will miss the six.
Come back to Truck Trend next week for our full first drive review of the 2013 Escape!