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Redesigned Escape easier on eyes
By Jim Mahoney/ BostonHerald.com
Saturday, December 1, 2012


     
     Despite being one of the best sellers in the crossover class and having the gravitas of 11 production years under its belt, Ford has relaunched the Escape SE as an all new vehicle for 2013.
     
     Completely redesigned from the ground up with four engine options Ford engineers have dumped the blocky “mini-Explorer” look and fashioned the Escape to be slicker, sophisticated and softer yet manage a solid payload and fun driving experience.
     
     The rounded nose gives way to a long swept-back windshield that leads to the tapered body. The squared-off tail pulls the look together in a neat package.
     
     The elongated windshield gives the driver a great look at the road unless you drive close to the wheel, then the roof pillar on the left creates a slight blind spot.
     
     Climb into the comfortable cockpit and the first thing you notice is the sophisticated interior refit. The gauge display with speedometer and tachometer is separated by a digital menu and fuel gauge.
     
     But the infotainment center is saddled with the cumbersome MYFord system, which I find complicated to use. Ford has made improvements to it, but I think it has a way to go to be user-friendly. That being said, the sound system is quite good. The steering wheel controls are well-positioned and make cycling through the options a bit easier.
     
     Our tester was fitted with the base 178-horsepower, 1.6-liter Ecoboost turbo, mated with a six-speed transmission that I found to be peppy with good acceleration. Other reviews suggest the 2.0-liter turbo 240-horsepower engine is the preferred option. The gas mileage is a very good 26 miles per gallon in mixed driving with a solid 33 mpg on the highway for the 1.6- liter engine.
     
     The Escape has a fairly quiet ride with a hint of sporty handling characteristics. But the two-wheel drive version did hydroplane on wet surfaces.
     
     An optional feature is the hands-free power tailgate featured in TV commercials that operates with a swipe of the foot. However, the tailgate’s fit was not perfect and it settled somewhat crookedly on the frame.
     
     All in all, this is a good car for the crossover category and, at a base $25,895, it’s very competitive in price and features.
     
     I think it’s a better value than the Toyota Rav 4, Mazda 5, Kia Sportage and it’s cheaper than all, including its archrival Honda CRV. But options can run the cost quickly into the low $30,000s.

( -— carsmart@bostonherald.com )

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