2013-ford-escapeWhen it comes to SUVs, there is luxury and then there’s luxury: Leather appointments and electric do-dads don’t mean squat when you can’t make the tight turns in parking garages or have to park at the far end of the mall parking lot because the spaces are too tight. 

But so many of us need the conquering hero that an SUV can be when bad weather rolls in or heavy hauling is the weekend plan. And then, there’s the fact that an SUV can truly save your back when it comes to lifting and strapping babies and toddlers into car seats.  

Perfect Answer? The Mid-Sized SUV
The mid-sized SUV combines the general size of a sedan (get this: the Ford Escape is 11 inches shorter than the Toyota Camry, and about the same width) with seating for five, ample cargo space (which is increased when the center seats are folded down), the vistas of an SUV, four wheel drive and the rugged stance and suspension that we love in these cars. 

{youtube}Jt76GZh2Oi8{/youtube}But of course, luxury is nice too. So, many models come with leather seats, a sun roof, keyless entry and starter, satellite radio and more. Which made Ford’s job in redesigning the Escape all the more difficult: What else could they add to make this car the must have mid-size SUV of the year? 


Escape BMWSisters? The Escape and the BMW X3 have similar curves Beauty On the Outside
Escape’s designers didn’t shy from the job. First, they came up with a sexy, sleek, muscle-bound body. I park my car just outside the kitchen window, and completely blame the Escape for my caffeine overload the week I drove it: I kept going back for more coffee so I could look at it. One day when we were out to lunch I pulled into a parking lot and just for comparison purposes, parked next to a BMW X3: It’s stunning how much they look alike. 

Brains on the Inside
Then, Ford’s designers focused on what increasingly sets Ford apart: Technology. The completely redesigned cockpit includes a My Ford Touch media console with a large screen–big enough to display all that is going on, from navigation and weather to music, climate and more; it shows the back up camera image–and the Sony audio system features a round toggle control giving the driver and passenger several options for sound control.

The Escape also has the much loved hands free lift gate feature: just swipe your foot under the rear bumper–with keys in your purse or pocket–and it opens. And here’s the special secret bonus: the hands free lift gate can provide hours of fun for your kids (it did for mine; this was their favorite feature!).Escape Center consoleThe Escape’s center console is loaded with techno-access: Two USB ports, A/V ports and a 120 V outlet
Escape seat heatersThe Escape’s awesome seat heaters
What We Loved

Keyless entry remote
Remote start–great for cold days
Heated seats–with 5 levels of heat 
Two usb ports, two 120 V ports and one 110v/150 watt port (for a two pronged plug)
A/V ports in center console
Power lift gate, and it opens with a hands-free swipe of the foot!
Beautifully redesigned exterior–sleek and muscular, but still sleek and agile
Hands free phone and voice recognition
Backup camera with parking package
Panoramic sunroof–wow!
34.3  Cubic Feet of load space (67.8 with center seats folded down)
MyFord Touch infotainment system and Sony sound system with toggle controls (a standard feature!)
270 horsepower
Four wheel drive

What You Need To Know
Spaces to put the key and phone are limited (we used the cup holder)
2.4 liter engine with EcoBoost
We averaged 20 miles to the gallon
Options that are worth the money: Parking ($995)   
Price of this model: $36,525

Disclosure: Ford provided the 2013 Escape for our review; opinions are all our own.