Here Come the 30-MPG SUVs

2013 Ford Escape

2013 Ford Escape

Stepping onto a dealer’s lot five years ago and asking for a small SUV that was comfortable, had decent power and returned over 30 mpg would have resulted in a blank stare.

Today, buyers at Chevrolet, Honda, Mazda and Ford dealers can ask that question and will happily be shown the Equinox, CR-V, CX-5 and Escape. Amazingly enough, none of those reach the magic number with the help of a hybrid powertrain.

As of right now, it’s the Ford Escape that has the distinction of being able to say it offers the most fuel-efficient vehicle in the small crossover segment. At least when it comes to vehicles equipped with automatic transmissions.

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New Ford Escape: Price, Style and Competition

2013 Ford Escape, left side view

Ford has announced tentative pricing for its 2013 Escape in four trim levels. Starting prices range from about $22,500 (depending on your zip code) for the base car to $36-37,000 for the Titanium, all fitted out with stuff you might love but don’t need.

A good description of what’s in each trim regarding engines, drivetrains and likely fuel economy is here. No more V6, and no more hybrid. Either the 1.6- or 2.0-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder will give you a choice of FWD or optional AWD.

Ford’s new design language (or a dialectical variant) continues the Focus look in this car, and I think it’s pretty bad. Not that the old Escape was a beauty—it was clunky and boxy, with absolutely no flair—but this car looks like a tarted-up CR-V that, like much of the competition, can’t decide whether it’s a crossover or a small SUV. The front end is a horror show.

It seems to be smaller inside than the former version, and Ford is gambling that this more carlike version will do better than the old hauler, which sold almost 2 million units and kept on selling well even in its last two years.

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Cars Coming Soon: 2013 Ford Escape Goes All European

2013 Ford Escape

The Ford Kuga has had my attention for years.

The Europe-only crossover was one of the cars that ended up on my list anytime I complained about the cool cars not available in the United States but sold across the pond. In contrast to the clunky and boxy U.S. Ford Escape, the Kuga is sleek and good-looking and has better fuel economy. Why on Earth has it not been available here?

There are lots of reasons, but now, Ford has finally decided that customers on this side of the Atlantic are sophisticated enough for the Kuga. We’ll know it here as the all-new Ford Escape, but it’ll always be a Kuga to me.

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