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Fans of the Ford Escape will enjoy hearing the news. This year’s redesign, the first since 2008, has improved the Escape significantly.

Unlike some redesigns, this one is substantial.

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The first thing one may notice regarding the 2013 Ford Escape is the exterior: it’s definitely changed. This compact crossover sport utility vehicle has a sleeker look and isn’t nearly as boxy.

Despite a more contoured appearance, the Escape has a 2.8 inch longer wheelbase and is 1.3 inches wider, providing more interior room. It is a little shorter (1.6 inches) and the other exterior change is a smaller front grille.

The new Escape has some international flavor. It mirrors Ford Kuga, which is offered in Europe as a compact crossover. Both vehicles share the Ford Focus platform.

What’s also new about the Escape are the nice interior changes. Ford is using higher-quality materials and relying less on hard plastic. The backseat folds down easily, and there is now a power liftgate and the MyFord Touch entertainment and communication system.

These are all nice improvements, but the most significant change for some might be the engine. Ford has incorporated two new turbo engines that have improved performance.

Ford calls all of its turbocharged engines EcoBoost. In reality, the EcoBoost is just a traditional turbocharged engine. The Escape has four trim levels (S, SE, SEL and Titanium) and only the S model isn’t turbocharged.

Missing from the Escape lineup this year is a hybrid version, which has been discontinued.

The Escape S features a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder with 168 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. Both the SE and SEL models come with a turbocharged 1.6-liter, inline-4 that has 178 horsepower and produces 184 pound-feet of torque.

For drivers who really value performance, the Escape Titanium has a 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine with 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque.

Most people will probably opt for the Escape SE and SEL models. While these models can be a bit lacking in some uphill situations, the passing power is solid and it’s also good from a starting position, and possesses a certain driver fun factor.

As mentioned previously, the Escape interior is definitely improved. The seating provides more padding and comfort, and the gauges are big and simple to read. The placement of the climate system – directly in front of the gear selector – is one of the few faults of the Escape interior makeup.

The Escape delivers accurate steering, a firm ride, and handles very well on curves. Smaller bumps don’t seem to be problematic and the Escape engine is fairly quiet unless the vehicle is laboring a bit on steep hills.

Although the Escape can get a little pricy in all but the base model, it’s still a good selection among a very crowded field of competitors like the Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV-4, Mazda CX-5, and a few others. Overall, the Escape is a refined compact SUV that’s going to please a lot of car-buyers.

2013 Ford Escape

  • Performance: 2.5-liter, four-cylinder 168 horsepower; 1.6-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder, 178 horsepower; 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder, 240 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate range: 22-33 mpg
  • Price: $22,470 to $30,370
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; corrosion 5years/unlimited; roadside assistance 5 years/60,000
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