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2013 Ford Escape / Kuga compact crossover SUV
More dynamic design, safety, technology and... fun

2013 Ford Escape / Kuga compact crossover SUV: front-side photo.

2013 Ford Escape, brother of the redesigned European Kuga.

Bechara Aboul-Nasr, 18 November 2011:

Announcing a new SUV at Ford Motor Company is comparable to announcing a new luxury model at Mercedes-Benz or BMW, or a new chic urban one from MINI or Audi. It's in the heart of their respective images, even if they all do well in other categories, including Ford in various passenger car segments, especially since the "back to basics" policy which followed the nineties problems. But that's quite a long time ago, at least by today's standards of time perceptions.

2013 Ford Escape / Kuga compact crossover SUV: profile photo.

The compact SUV muted from niche to mainstream standing.

Hence, when it comes to announcing a new generation Ford Escape for the 2013 model year, the picture gets even clearer, now that the compact crossover SUV category has muted from niche to mainstream standing.

The reasons of this mutation cannot be more obvious, with the global changes in energy prices, urban densities, emerging markets expansions and last but not least, the current financial and economic climate. Everything pleads today for leaner, lighter, and more economical to buy, own, run and then resell.

2013 Ford Escape / Kuga compact crossover SUV: rear-side photo.

More dynamic proportions.

That's where the all new 2013 Ford Escape intends to play, especially now that it has become America’s best-selling small utility (small for American, compact or even medium sized for many other markets, starting from Europe).

Besides price and running costs, this category aims to offer moderate exterior size, consumption and emissions  – read lower taxation, not just environmental poetry –, ease of use in urban or even not-so-urban environments, versatile interior for passengers and cargo and no-less-important than any of these arguments, safe handling and protection. All the rest completes these fundamentals.

So, what does the new Ford Escape has to tell?

2013 Ford Escape / Kuga compact crossover SUV: dashboard photo.

More dynamic interior (compare to the outgoing Escape).

Let's start from the looks of the North American Escape which will be called Kuga in many markets around the world, including China (from next spring) and Europe where the first generation was launched in 2008.

The 2013 Ford Escape is the brother of the redesigned European Kuga – to be shown in Geneva this March –, which is based on Ford's compact C platform. The platform is also shared with the Ford Focus (compact C-segment, lower medium category) and C-Max MPV.

 Size and volumes

As you'd expect from a compact crossover, the exterior design of the new Escape combines SUV and passenger car attributes.

The larger exterior dimensions of the 2013 Ford Escape (compared to the outgoing model), allow for 68.1 cubic feet (1928 litres) of cargo volume behind the first row (25 litres more than the predecessor) and 34.3 cubic feet (971 litres) behind the second row (+82 litres). The total interior volume for passengers comes at 98.1 cubic feet (2778 litres), that is 37 litres less than the 2815 litres (99.4 cu.ft) of the previous generation.

Bearing the current Ford Kuga dimensions in mind (same 2.69-metre wheelbase as the new 2013 Escape / Kuga), it becomes understandable why the new Kuga generation will bring more luggage space, as the body will evolve from the current 4.44-metre Kuga length to 4.524 metre.

2013 Ford Escape / Kuga compact crossover SUV: leather front seats photo.

Leather seats option.

With these changes, the manufacturer's specifications figures indicate an increase in the curb weight of the basic version, from 3229 lb (1465 kg) for the outgoing 2.5-litre, manual FWD to 3515 lb (to 1594 kg) for the new 1.6-litre EcoBoost, FWD with the standard 6-speed automatic transmission.

However, Ford says that weight reduction measures were adopted, as the seat structure for example has lost about 3 pounds (1.36 kg) despite the added functionality – two-way power recline and two-way power lumbar support, in addition to the basic six-way adjustability.

 Engines

2013 Ford Escape / Kuga compact crossover SUV: leather rear seats photo.

The wheelbase grows from 103.1 inches (2619mm) to 105.9 in. (2690mm), to provide more interior space.

The new Ford Escape will be initially available with three 4-cylinder gasoline (petrol) engines, all with aluminium block and heads, double overhead camshafts (DOHC) and four valves per cylinder:

- The upgraded version of the 2.5-litre has a projected maximal output of 168 horsepower and 167 lb.-ft (226 Nm) of torque,

- 1.6-Litre EcoBoost with a projected maximal output of 173 horsepower and 177 lb.-ft (240 Nm) of torque,

- 2.0-Litre EcoBoost with a projected maximal output of 237 horsepower and 250 lb.-ft (339 Nm) of torque.

2013 Ford Escape / Kuga compact crossover SUV: standard six-speed SelectShift transmission shifter photo.

The standard six-speed SelectShift transmission allows manual gear changes from a switch on the left-hand side of the shifter .

The EcoBoost engines provide direct fuel injection with turbocharging and twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT).

Other powertrains, including a new diesel engine, will be offered with the Ford Kuga outside of North America.

 Gearbox

Ford's Escape will come for the first time with a standard six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission with all engines, allowing a manual gear selection from a switch on the left-hand side of the shifter (opposite picture).

 Power liftgate

A simple kicking motion under the centre of the rear bumper unlocks and raises the optional hands-free power liftgate when the driver has the Escape key fob. The same process closes the hatch.

Integrated in the Ford Intelligent Access system with push-button start / stop, the hands-free power liftgate uses two sensors in the rear bumper to detect the driver’s shin and the kicking motion.

2013 Ford Escape / Kuga compact crossover SUV: hands-free power liftgate photo.

A simple kicking motion under the centre of the rear bumper unlocks and raises the optional hands-free power liftgate.

To avoid accidental opening, the combination of the system detecting the key fob, the shin and leg motion is necessary to unlock and open the liftgate.

The liftgate height can be programmed or adjusted manually to open from about 4 feet (1.2 metre) to a maximum of about 7 feet (2.1 metre) above the ground.

 SYNC + MyFord Touch

A new version of the SYNC with MyFord Touch system provides different ways to manage and control information through voice commands, menus accessed through controls on the steering wheel, touch screens, buttons or knobs.

2013 Ford Escape / Kuga compact crossover SUV: 4-inch screen. photo.

MyFord Touch 4-inch screen in the instrument cluster.

The new display is clearer, with larger words and the pressable areas on the screen look more like buttons. The key corner screens – Phone, Navigation, Entertainment and Climate – are labelled as such in addition to their colour codes. Icons have a new look to better reflect the functionality or feature.

MyFord Touch includes a standard 4-inch screen in the instrument cluster on all Escape versions. An 8-inch screen in the centre stack is standard on SEL and Titanium models.

The latest version of SYNC includes:
• Hands-free, voice-activated calling via a Bluetooth-connected mobile phone,
• Hands-free, voice-activated control of a USB-connected digital music player,
• 911 Assist, the automated emergency calling service (free for the life of the vehicle),
• Vehicle Health Report, an on-demand diagnostic and maintenance information service.

2013 Ford Escape / Kuga compact crossover SUV: MyFord Touch with Sony audio system photo.

MyFord Touch option with navigation and Sony audio.

Ford says that its MyFord Touch comes with standard SYNC Services subscription, which expands voice-controlled features to include a cloud-based network of services (turn-by-turn directions, traffic reports and business search information with available live operator assistance, if needed).

MyFord Touch is optionally available with navigation systems and Sony-branded audio with 10 speakers and a Sony-designed electronic finish panel.

 Parking technologies

The optional technology package includes the active park assist, blind spot information (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert, rain-sensing wipers, front / rear park assist and rear view camera.

The active park assist option detects, with the press of a button, an available parallel parking space and automatically steers the vehicle into the space. It is enabled by the EPAS (electric power-assisted steering) system, and, using 10 sensors, it automatically steers the vehicle into the space, without the driver having to touch the steering wheel. He / she controls the accelerator, gearshift and brakes. The system can parallel park into a space of less than 18 feet (5.5 metre)  long – the vehicle’s length (a little less than 15 feet, 4.57 metre) plus 3 feet (91.4 cm).

BLIS with cross-traffic alert helps by alerting the driver when a vehicle is detected in a blind spot, and warns of traffic detected approaching from the sides, such as when backing out of a parking space. The alert is displayed in the side mirror when a vehicle is detected entering a blind spot.

 Intelligent 4WD

The new escape can be ordered with the new Intelligent 4WD system, which automatically slows the vehicle if it is cornering too fast (Curve Control, introduced on the new Ford Explorer) or help accelerate through a turn (Torque Vectoring Control). It analyzes data from 25 external signals, including wheel speed, accelerator pedal position and steering wheel angle, assessing road conditions and driver input. It adds or reduces torque as needed through an electromagnetic clutch.

When entering and driving through turns, the system pre-emptively split the torque produced by the powertrain between the front and rear axles. If the vehicle is understeering, the system will automatically send more torque to the rear wheels to provide more neutral steering.

2013 Ford Escape / Kuga compact crossover SUV: rear cargo space photo.

68.1 cubic feet (1928 litres) of cargo volume behind the first row and 34.3 cubic feet (971 litres) behind the second row.

Input from sensors and data – such as lateral acceleration, driver demand and steering angle – are processed to allow the system to add or reduce torque as needed through an electromagnetic clutch. Should the front of the vehicle be on ice for instance and the rear on pavement, the all-wheel-drive system will send all the torque to the rear.

Ford says that these adjustments, corrections and calculations are made every 16 milliseconds – about 20 times faster than the blink of an eye – and that both the control software and the rear axle were developed in-house by its own engineers.

Introduced on the new global Ford Focus but retuned and recalibrated for the new Escape, the Torque Vectoring Control transfers torque across the same axle (between left and right), to the outside wheel. It is engaged when the driver is accelerating, to calculate the vehicle’s yaw motion, or its tendency to move left or right. It uses the vehicle’s brakes to function like a limited-slip differential, constantly balancing the distribution of engine torque between the front wheels during cornering, improving both grip and steering.

As the vehicle accelerates through a corner, the system uses the vehicle’s stability control module to detect when the inside front wheel is starting to slip and applies an imperceptible amount of braking to the inside wheel to transfer engine torque to the outside one, which has more grip, thus maintaining traction and steering control.

Ford says that unlike a traction control system that reduces engine power, Torque Vectoring Control’s intervention may not even be noticeable to the driver.

Other technologies added to the new Ford Escape include hill start assist and emergency brake assist, Roll Stability Control and trailer sway control.

 New braking system

Similar to the Curve Control feature, the new braking system can apply automatic four-wheel braking to help the driver when cornering too quickly on a curve. The system is fully automatic and capable of slowing the vehicle more quickly than most drivers can react – speeds can be reduced about 10 mph (16 km/h) in about one second, allowing the vehicle to maintain its path.

 Personal safety system

On the passive safety side, the enhanced Personal Safety System comes with new safety belt technologies and seven airbags.

2013 Ford Escape / Kuga compact crossover SUV: panoramic roof photo.

Optional panoramic roof.

The new pretensioners at the front outboard anchor points and crash-locking tongues help pull the belt tight over the hips in a fraction of a second during more severe crashes, while the new side airbags deploy lower in the pelvis area in addition to the chest and incorporate new venting technology which takes into account the size of the occupant to vary the pressure so smaller occupants withstand a lower pressure. The tunnel vent is lined up with the shoulder area of the occupant. On larger passengers, the shoulder engages the vent and keeps it from venting so the gas stays inside the airbag. On smaller passengers, the occupant’s shoulder is below the vent, so the gas vents out of the airbag.

The driver’s airbag uses a curve-shaped tether system that pulls in the lower section to lessen the impact of the airbag on the driver’s chest and ribs in frontal crashes. A driver’s knee airbag is offered on Escape for the first time.

The Ford Safety Canopy System combines side curtain airbags and a rollover sensor. Inflators for the airbags are located near the roof rail between the side pillars, while side-impact sensors are located on each side of the vehicle. The rollover sensor detects a potential rollover and triggers the Safety Canopy System so the airbags stay inflated for up to six seconds to help reduce injuries from multiple impacts or rollovers.

 

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