Competes with: Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Cherokee, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4
Looks like: An even more car-like, less bulky take on a compact SUV
Power units: 180 horsepower, turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder; 250 hp, turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder; 200 hp, hybrid 2.5-liter four-cylinder; or a 210-hp, plug-in hybrid 2.5-liter four-cylinder; eight-speed automatic (gas only) or electronic continuously variable transmission (hybrids); front or all wheel drive
Hits of dealerships: Early 2023
Ford has refreshed its venerable Escape SUV for the 2023 model year, giving it a slight styling refresh inside and out and adding a new ST-Line monochromatic sporty look that can be had in several trim levels. The goal is to provide a more car-like model for customers who don’t really care about the box, a solid idea for an SUV, according to the company. Given that Ford killed off nearly all of its passenger cars with the demise of the Fiesta, Focus and Fusion — and offers a boxier, tougher Bronco Sport for buyers who want it — offering an even more car-like version of the already-lookalike the Escape car seems like a good way to try to keep some customers.
Connected: 2021 Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid: 7 Things We Like and 4 Things We Don’t
Dig this monochromatic look
While all Escapes get updated looks for 2023, the big news is the addition of ST-Line, a new monochromatic exterior package that gives the SUV a sportier look. Trim levels for the ’23 Escape were renamed and now consist of Base, Active, ST-Line, ST-Line Select, ST-Line Elite, Platinum and Plug-in Hybrid. All ST-Line trims get a black mesh grille, rear skid plate, single-wing rear window spoiler and a single-tone paint covering the entire vehicle, including the side moldings. The range-topping ST-Line Elite also gets a coast-to-coast LED light bar that runs between the headlights. ST-Line cars come with 18-inch wheels as standard, upgraded to 19-inch black-painted wheels on the ST-Line Elite.
Transferring power units
The 2023 Escape will be available with a choice of powertrains depending on the trim level. Standard power on the Base, Active and ST-Line trims is a 180-horsepower 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbocharged engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. An optional 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 250 hp is available on ST-Line Select and Elite and standard on Platinum trims. Hybrid drive with a power of 200 hp. is available on the ST-Line and Platinum trims, front-wheel drive only on the ST-Line and paired with all-wheel drive on the ST-Line Select and Elite trims, while the Platinum gets the option of FWD or AWD with hybrid drivetrain.
If you want a bit more electric work, the standalone PHEV trim tops the range, offering 210bhp. and allowing what Ford estimates to be 37 miles of all-electric range for the FWD model — and also allowing speeds of up to 85 mph in electric-only mode. Recharging the PHEV will take about 10 to 11 hours on standard household 11-volt current, while a 240-volt Level 2 charger should do it in about 3.5 hours, according to the company. Four driver-selectable operating modes will be available for the PHEV, consisting of Auto EV mode (the vehicle decides the best combination of gas and electricity), EV Now (all-electric until the battery is depleted), EV Later ( the gas engine runs to maintain the current battery power level) and EV Charge (the engine runs to charge the battery for later use).
Official EPA estimates aren’t ready yet, but Ford is targeting more than 400 miles of range for all variants, with the full FWD hybrid expected to reach more than 550 miles.
Interior and technical upgrades
The Escape’s interior also gets some attention for 2023 with a new design, seats and a new optional multimedia screen. Base and ST-Line trims get Ebony Black interiors, while Active, Platinum and Plug-in Hybrid get a choice of Ebony or Space Gray. ST-Line trims also get a slightly spicier cabin with red stitching on the door panels, seat trim, armrest, footrests and flat-bottomed steering wheel.
Of note is a new available 13.2-inch center stack touchscreen working with Ford’s Sync 4 multimedia system. A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster is present on select upper trim levels, offering a reconfigurable display experience, and a heads-up display displayed on a rotating plastic piece atop the dash also arrives for the new model year. The seating arrangement is unchanged with room for just five, but the second row has a 6-inch slide fore and aft to maximize legroom or luggage space if needed.
Some available safety systems and technology include adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, Evasive Steering Assist and built-in navigation, rear parking sensors, a 360-degree camera system, and a wireless charging pad for the cabin. Sync 4 cloud-connected navigation will be available, but wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be standard. Amazon Alexa Built-In will also be part of the Escape’s suite of connected technologies.
The 2023 Ford Escape is available for pre-order now and will hit showrooms in early 2023.
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