2013 Ford Escape SEL 1.6L EcoBoost 4WD
The Escape finally escapes its dull image.
By: Anthony Fongaro | June 2014
The crossover SUV is an extremely popular and crucial segment for automakers. These days, trying to sell a 4 door boxy looking SUV is like trying to mow your lawn with scissors. There are better alternatives. Ford realized that their designs for their cars were getting bland in the United States but attractive in the rest of the world. The solution? One Ford! Ford decided to have just one design language for its vehicles around the world. The 2013 Escape’s interior and exterior are pretty much identical to the models sold in the rest of the world. Let’s get right to this vehicle and its long name.
What’s in a name?
The SEL was the second highest model behind the Titanium in 2013 and came with four flavors. Two engines were available, the 1.6L turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylender and an optional 2.0L turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylender. Both could be available with either front-wheel drive or 4wd. The one I tested had the smaller engine but with 4wd.
My, how you’ve changed!
With mostly all Fords now, the design theme is not only sleek but a complete redesign from the previous generation models. The 2nd generation Escape on the left was an evolution of the first while the 3rd generation on the right is a complete departure from the bland and blocky looks that plagued the previous versions. No longer does a consumer have to go towards an Asian or German brand for a stylish SUV.
Wondering what EcoBoost means? Well wonder no more! EcoBoost is what Ford’s marketing department came up with to call their line-up of turbocharged, direct injection gas engines. Instead of offering a V6 like in the previous Escape, Ford only offers 4-cylender engines but they work well. The 1.6L engine produces 173 hp (129 kW) and 184 lb-ft (249 Nm). Coupled with a 6-speed automatic transmission, this enables the Escape to go from 0-60 mph (0-100 kph) in 8.8 seconds. That doesn’t sound fast, but it is enough for this small SUV. If you want to pay the extra $1,500+, the 2.0L does produce 240 hp (201 kW) and 270 lb-ft (366 Nm) which knocks off almost 2 seconds from the 0-60 (0-100) time to 7 seconds. Both engines are smooth but the Eco part of EcoBoost is a bit of marketing jargon. Fuel economy is rated at 22/30 which is average for the segment.
Is it sporty?
I don’t think that any small SUV can be considered “sporty”, but the Escape does drive well. It handles like a tall Ford Focus which the Escape basically is, so it can take the corners driving to kindergarten with ease. One complaint: if you give any transmission a “Sport” mode (The “S” on the gear lever), why would you ruin the experience by only allowing manual shifting with buttons on the gear stick? Not only does it not feel sporty but the manual shifts are delayed. Stick with letting the transmission choose the gears.
If the exterior doesn’t prove the radical departure from the previous Escape, the interior will. The quality and design has improved massively. The SEL tested had heated leather seats, SYNC with MyFord Touch infotainment center, a massive panoramic sunroof ($1,495), and Ruby Red paint ($395). There are many other options available include navigation, a back-up camera, a power-lift gate with the option of being foot-operated, blind-spot monitoring system (BLIS), and Active Park Assist.
Although the front seats are supportive, the back seats are flat and not as nice as the price suggests. Speaking of not very nice, the buttons on the steering wheel are awkward to use and then there is the SYNC system. Voice-activated systems in cars are never the best and SYNC continues that tradition. The good thing is that you can use SYNC for basically every function of your car if it wants to work. The better thing is that you never have to use SYNC if you don’t want to. If you do want to use it, learn how to shout.
Those options sound expensive.
If you go onto a dealership lot, don’t be surprised to see Escapes priced between $35,000 to $38,000. My advice: keep the options light. The back-up camera is a very useful option to have since the stylish rear window gives little rear visibility. The 2.0L engine may be more powerful and fun, but you do pay for it both up front and at the pump. Two options that you really don’t need are the Active Park Assist and 19” chrome wheels. So the theme of being European continues with pricing as well.
So should I get a new Escape SEL?
No. You can’t.
Because it was just so popular, Ford decided to discontinue it for 2014. When it was on sale, the SEL was the “entry level” Escape to have leather seats and the smaller engine. This was nice considering the alternative was the Titanium which started at over $32,000.
I think this is one of the best looking SUVs on the market and is by and away better than the previous generation.
The interior is well laid out but avoid the standard radio if possible. Some of the plastics are a bit cheap.
Even though it’s a small engine, the 1.6L EcoBoost does pull well. The handling is quite good for an SUV.
Fuel economy: 7/10
The competition does get better fuel economy but the 1/6L’s fuel economy is respectable.
Value for money: 8/10
If you option this right, you’ll have a good SUV for under $32,000. The back-up camera will be your new best friend.
The 2013 Ford Escape SEL 1.6L EcoBoost 4wd (try saying that 10 times fast) is a great little SUV for any occasion. It may not be the most fuel efficient, but it does have some nice options and a stylish exterior. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a stylish and practical SUV. Just be mindful of all the recalls.
1. Exterior photo: http://www.auto-broker-magic.com/2013-ford-escape.html