2023 Ford Escape First Look Review: Smarter On The Inside And Out

First Look / 9 Comments

A sophisticated new look and sporty ST-Line models have added a dash of flair to Ford's crossover.

With the underwhelming Ford EcoSport on its way out, the upgraded Escape will gain prominence as the Blue Oval's most affordable crossover. Unlike the Bronco and even the Bronco Sport, the Escape is a less rugged alternative for those who want a practical crossover without needing to pretend that they actually go off-roading. The latest Escape looks smarter and now comes with a sportier ST-Line alternative, while the interior has been upgraded with a larger touchscreen interface than before. Whether all of that is enough to sway buyers from the brand-new Honda CR-V remains to be seen, but the Escape is a strong seller for Ford and looks set to continue that success.


When Is The Ford Escape Coming Out?

Scheduled to reach dealerships early in 2023, the release date for the Ford Escape isn't too far away. It is already available to order in the USA.

2023 Ford Escape Price And Competition

Starting at an MSRP of $27,500, the price of the 2023 Ford Escape is only $315 more than the 2022 version. From there, you're looking at a cost of $28,845 for the Active and $29,840 for the new ST-Line. The ST-Line Select is $34,040, the Platinum is $37,465, and the ST-Line Elite goes for $38,460.

As mentioned, Honda has just released an all-new CR-V and that starts at a pricier $31,110. The CR-V lacks a sportier derivative but it's a more practical and premium-feeling vehicle. Another extremely popular compact crossover is the enduring Toyota RAV4 which starts at $27,575 - just $75 more than the 2023 Escape. Beyond these Japanese combatants, there is no shortage of compact crossover rivals from the likes of Hyundai and Kia.


New Ford Escape Exterior And Colors

The pre-facelift Escape had neat, if slightly generic, styling. While we can't say that the exterior of the new Ford Escape is groundbreaking in any way, it is a definite improvement. New LED reflector headlamps with signature lighting are standard, and these flank a reshaped grille with harder edges than before. Customers can spec a "coast to coast" LED light bar that runs across the headlight clusters. There isn't much of a difference in the look of the rear end, and perhaps Ford could've done more here to distinguish the 2023 model.

For some real flair, you'll want to take a look at the new ST-Line (pictured here in ST-Line Elite guise). This model comes with a black mesh grille, a unique rear skid plate, and a single-wing rear spoiler. With the available 19-inch machine-faced Ebony painted wheels, it looks even better.


The base model comes with a Piano Black grille, black mirror caps, dual chrome exhaust tips, and a body-color rear spoiler. Moving up a notch to the Active gets you a power liftgate and a chrome strip for the grille. Right at the top of the range, the Platinum has LED fog lamps.

Wheel sizes range from 17 inches on lower trims (steel on the base model) to 19s on the top models. One attractive standalone option is a panoramic vista roof for $1,595, but you won't find it on the base model.

The colors for the Ford Escape are quite reserved for the base variant. Here, you can choose from Agate Black Metallic, Iconic Silver Metallic, Atlas Blue Metallic, Carbonized Gray Metallic, Cinnabar Red Metallic ($495), Vapor Blue Metallic, and Oxford White. The Active gains Rapid Red Metallic ($495) and Star White Metallic ($995), but there is only minimal variation in the color availability per trim after that.


Ford Escape Dimensions

The compact dimensions of the Ford Escape make it perfect for zipping around town. It has a 106.7-inch wheelbase and a length of 180.1 inches, increasing to 181.2 inches for all-wheel-drive derivatives depending on trim. Without options, the height is 66 inches, and the width, including side mirrors, is 85.6 inches.

The lightest model is the 1.5-liter EcoBoost with FWD at 3,298 pounds, increasing to 3,474 lbs with AWD. At 3,566 lbs, the 2.0-liter EcoBoost AWD is the heaviest non-hybrid model.

Ford Escape Engine And Performance

The base engine in the Ford Escape is a 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost that produces 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque. FWD is standard and AWD is optional, but all models have an eight-speed automatic transmission. Previously, this engine enabled the Escape to get from 0-60 mph in around 7.7 seconds based on independent testing. Although that's acceptable, this engine can feel a little lethargic when passing on the highway with a fully loaded Escape.

Also unchanged is the 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost. Exclusively available with AWD, it generates 250 hp and 280 lb-ft. As those figures indicate, it is by far the livelier of the two engines, and it previously motivated the Escape to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. An eight-speed automatic is also standard here, but there are paddle shifters that add a little more engagement to proceedings. You can expect to tow up to 3,500 lbs with the larger engine when it is properly equipped.

Despite the ST-Line's sporty appearance, it's no quicker than other models equipped with the same engines.

The Escape is one of the few compact crossovers with a handy towing capacity, able to haul up to 3,500 lbs when equipped with the 2.0-liter engine, all-wheel drive, and the Class II Trailer Tow Package. 1.5-liter models can only manage 2,000 lbs.


Gas Mileage

EPA ratings for the new Ford Escape crossover weren't available at the time of writing, but they should be the same or close to the 2022 numbers. That means we can expect 28/34/30 mpg city/highway/combined from the 1.5-liter engine with FWD and 26/31/28 mpg with AWD.

The larger 2.0-liter model delivers 22/31/26 mpg.

FWD models have a 14.8-gallon gas tank, equating to a range of 444 miles. AWD models come with a larger 15.7-gallon tank, leading to a range of between 408 and 439 miles.

Ford Escape Interior And Cargo

The Ford Escape's interior was in need of a tech upgrade and that's exactly what it's received. Gone is the tiny 4.2-inch display on base models, and in its place is an eight-inch touchscreen running Sync 4 software. Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and an eight-inch color LCD instrument cluster are standard even on the base model, and these do a great job of making the space feel more modern.

On the ST-Line Elite and Platinum, there is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a new 13.2-inch capacitive touchscreen. All models have a six-speaker sound system, but a Bang & Olufsen 10-speaker system is available as an option.

What hasn't changed inside is the spacious seating, whether you're seated in the first or second row. Ford is keen to point out that the Escape has greater second-row legroom than the much larger Toyota Sequoia.


The seats in the Ford Escape ST-Line are finished in Ebony with red stitching, and they're in a combination of vinyl and cloth. This model also benefits from a sporty flat-bottom steering wheel. On the ST-Line Elite, quilted leather-trimmed seats with mini perforations are available as an option. On non-ST models, upholstery starts with basic cloth on the base model and progresses to ActiveX for the Platinum.

This remains a practical crossover. The cargo space behind the second row of the Ford Escape measures up to 37.5 cubic feet, and that increases to 65.4 cubes behind the first row.

Every Escape comes with a blind-spot information system, cross-traffic alert, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and a rearview camera. Available driver-assist technologies include intelligent adaptive cruise control, evasive steering assist, rear parking sensors, and a 360-degree camera system. As part of the available Ford Co-Pilot360 suite, the Escape now offers Intersection Assist 2.0, which can help to avoid a collision with pedestrians when turning.

Finally, it's possible to keep the car's software updated via Ford Power-Up over-the-air updates. These updates can be conveniently scheduled at a time that suits customers.


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