It seems we may be having a love-hate relationship with Ford's redesigned Escape. Our first impressions were good, really good, in fact. "No matter how hard I looked, I couldn't find anything significantly wrong with it," Managing Editor David Thomas said of the new compact crossover. Shortly after that review, the redesigned Escape flunked Cars.com's $25,000 Compact SUV Shootout, sulking in last place. What gives?
Well, for starters, there are a several versions of this vehicle — some we love and some we could live without. I drove both the base model evaluated in the Shootout and a loaded Titanium-trim test car, and let's just say our relationship status is "complicated."
The base model's engine is a carryover four-cylinder from the outgoing Escape; the turbocharged 2.0-liter in the Titanium model is smooth and powerful, replacing the outgoing V-6.
The base model's cabin was a disappointment with large, uneven panel gaps, loads of hard plastic surfaces and chintzy seat fabric. The Titanium model's interior looked high class; it was comfortable and wrapped in soft-touch materials. The base model lacked many features similarly priced competitors offer, but the Titanium was stocked with comfort and technology features.
But there's a catch, and it's a big one: all that refinement and comfort costs money — a lot of it, actually. At $23,295, including an $825 destination charge, our two-wheel-drive Shootout test car fell well under the $25,000 mark and had no options. For this Shootout, vehicles needed to come in below $25,000, excluding destination charges, to qualify. To get more features in the 2013 Escape, we needed to jump to the SE model, which brought it just over $25,000 and disqualified it.
The all-wheel-drive Titanium model starts at a pricey $32,945, including an $825 destination fee; after adding the MyFord Touch multimedia and navigation system and the Parking Technology Package, our test car's final sticker was an eye-opening $34,735. That's a lot of money for a compact crossover. Acura's new RDX with all-wheel drive is $36,615, including an $895 destination charge, and Audi's all-wheel-drive Q5 starts at $36,475 with an $875 destination charge. You'll need to pay more for navigation, but these luxury compact crossovers aren't far off the top Escape's mark.
Although I was quite impressed by the Escape in Titanium trim, I didn't love the extra $11,440. It seems the 1.6-liter SE model will be the bulk seller at $25,895 before adding all-wheel drive or MyFord Touch. We just haven't seen one yet.