2023 Ford Escape, All you want to know & watch about a Great Car
2023 Ford Escape First Look Review: Toughening Up a Softy
With its compact-crossover siblings both selling well, Ford sharpens the Escape’s soap-bar styling and upgrades its electrical architecture.
Few vehicles sharing the same basic platform are better differentiated than the Ford C2-based boxy, go-anywhere Bronco Sport and the urban-outfitted, lozenge-like Escape. Had they looked more similar, the former might have cannibalized the latter’s sales. Both are selling at or near capacity three years into the fourth-generation Escape’s model run, so Ford is toughening up the visage and demeanor of 2020’s somewhat soft-looking Escape.
Fresh Front End
Most of the manning up comes courtesy of a bolder new hood, which sits atop a more deeply sculpted grille flanked by a pair of LED-outlined “four-eyed” headlamps that look much more expressive (also a skosh BMW-ish). On upper trim levels, a so-called “coast-to-coast” LED light strip connects these headlamp DRLs, illuminating the gap between the hood and grille.
A new fascia incorporating a faux skidplate completes the beefier makeover. Other exterior changes are minimal: new 17-, 18-, and 19-inch wheel designs, new LED taillamps, a false skidplate on the rear fascia, and the relocation of the hatch release from below to above the license plate.
New ST Line Trim
Further solidifying the Escape as the pavement-burner of the Ford C2 platform compact crossover lineup is a new ST Line package that blacks out all the main trim—grille, window-surround moldings, a large single-wing rear spoiler, etc. Even the 19-inch wheels go black on top models. Further downplaying the ST Line’s off-road ambitions are body-color wheel-arch moldings instead of dark gray.
Inside, there’s red stitching and a flat-bottom steering wheel, though the seating material changes with different trim grades. That’s the cool thing about Escape ST Line—the look is generally available for about $995 more than an equivalent Escape built in any of the other trim series. That means the least expensive 1.5-liter Escape ST Line starts at $31,335. ST Line Select and Elite models feature content that aligns with the other trim levels. Ford expects half of all buyers to opt for the ST Line.
Other Trim Levels And Pricing
Gone are meaningless trim names like S, SE, and SEL, in favor of base, Active, and Platinum. That’s a basic and a loaded trim level bracketing one that offers several option packages to tailor the Escape to specific customer wants. The base Escape starts at $28,995, the Active (which doesn’t get a specific badge) rings in at $32,210, and the Platinum opens at $37,515 with the standard 2.0-liter AWD drivetrain; the conventional hybrid powertrain with front- or all-wheel drive is optional.
The front-drive plug-in hybrid Escape tops the range as its own fully loaded trim level, priced at $39,995.
Functionally Carryover Powertrains
The 2023 Ford Escape continues to offer two gas and two hybrid models with outputs that, on paper, seem to be virtually carryover. But both the 1.5-liter EcoBoost turbocharged three-cylinder and the 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbo four-cylinder are essentially new engines, redesigned to comply with tightening emissions regulations. The hybrid and plug-in hybrid models use the same 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder, with some minor tweaks to the output ratings attributable to a new method of measurement for this complex gas-engine/two motor-generator setup.
The eight-speed automatic transmissions (EcoBoost) and planetary CVTs (hybrids) are unchanged, as is the optional all-wheel-drive system. The PHEV offers four EV modes: Auto, EV Now, EV Later, and EV Charge, with a maximum possible fully electric speed of 85 mph.
New Electrical Architecture
Ford’s latest electrical architecture, first seen on the Mustang Mach E and forthcoming Super Duty trucks, brings new functionality to the Escape, including the full cloud-connected Sync 4 infotainment suite, Ford Co-Pilot360 safety tech with intersection and blind-spot assist, evasive steering assist, reverse cross-traffic braking and brake assist, “OK, Ford” and Alexa Built-In voice commands (with complimentary three-year subscription), and navigation with traffic rerouting capability.
Perhaps more important is the new architecture’s ability to receive over-the-air upgrades to improve current features or add new capabilities. The 2023 Ford Escape gets upgraded screens, as well, with formerly optional cluster and central screens becoming standard, and the biggest central screen growing from 8.0 to 13.2 inches.
The screens are all reconfigurable, and the upsized central screen incorporates all HVAC controls in a line of digital buttons that always remain visible along the bottom of the screen (base and low-level Escapes with the 8.0-inch screen retain the physical HVAC buttons just below the screen).
Is The 2023 Ford Escape Worth Waiting For?
With pricing up only about $315, the upgradable electrical architecture alone is worth opting for a ’23 model. The styling tweaks and ST Line appearance package look a lot better, and the bigger screen and decluttered dash are all worthy upgrades. These midcycle changes should help Ford’s fourth bestselling vehicle continue to sell strongly when it hits the road in early 2023.
Will the Escape’s sixth-place standing in our MotorTrend Ultimate Car Rankings change? The updates don’t appear to address our primary complaints of lower-grade interior materials, an unsatisfying base engine, or the unsupportive driver’s seat, so we’ll have to wait to hold a comparison test of this highly competitive class next year to find out.
|2023 Ford Escape Specifications|
|LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||1.5L/181-hp/190-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 12-valve I-3; 2.0L/250-hp/280-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4; 2.5L/165-hp Atkinson-cycle DOHC 16-valve I-4 plus 83-hp/NA-lb-ft (front) electric motors, 199-210 hp/206 lb-ft (est, comb)|
|TRANSMISSION||8-speed automatic, cont variable auto|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,300-3,900 lb (mfr)|
|L x W x H||180.5 x 74.1 x 66.1 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.9-8.7 sec (MT est)|
|EPA FUEL ECON (CITY/HWY/COMB)||22-44/31-38/26-41 mpg (gas, est); 117/93/105 mpg-e* (gas+elec, est)|
|EPA RANGE (COMB)||408-582 miles (gas/+elec, est); 37 (elec, est)|
|ON SALE||Early 2023|
|*EPA blended-PHEV (charge-depleting) mode testing, with vehicles set to their default drive and brake-regeneration modes.|
- Ford has given the Escape SUV a handsome makeover for 2023 which includes a new hood, grille, headlamps, and wheel designs.
- Gone are the familiar S, SE, SEL, and Titanium trims as the Escape’s lineup has been adjusted to include base, Active, Platinum, and PHEV trims as well as a sporty-looking ST-Line model.
- Sync 4 is now standard and the Escape can be had with larger display screens for the gauges and the infotainment system.
After just three model years on the market, the Ford Escape is getting an attractive front-end redesign that removes its smiley fascia in favor of a more upscale-looking one. The compact SUV’s front fascia has been reworked with new lighting elements, a revised hood, and an updated front bumper design.
The 2023 Escape’s grille stretches wider across the front end than the one on the 2022 model and now wears the Ford oval emblem that used to be placed on the SUV’s hood. Higher-end models come with a light bar that connects the headlamps by running across the top of the grille.
To accompany its handsome new look, the Escape lineup has been tweaked to include base, Active, Platinum, PHEV, and new ST-Line trim levels. The ST-Line is a sporty-looking offering that swaps the Escape’s black plastic lower-body cladding for body-colored alternatives, giving it a more hunkered-down appearance. The ST-Line also wears unique 18- or 19-inch wheels and can be had with black faux-leather upholstery with red contrast stitching.
The Escape’s four powertrain options carry over from before, starting with the 180-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder. An optional turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder brings the heat with 250 ponies and two different hybrids are available if you’re looking to preserve fuel.
The first hybrid is a traditional setup that uses a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder and an electric motor; a plug-in-hybrid option adds an 11.2-kWh battery pack that is said to hold enough juice to power the Escape for up to 37 miles on electric power. Both hybrids make 210 horsepower, an 11-hp drop from last year’s PHEV model.
Ford’s Sync 4 infotainment system makes its way to the Escape this year too. The system, which is capable of over-the-air updates, features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, displayed on a large 13.2-inch infotainment display on all but the base model. The screen is 8.0 inches on the base trim, which also comes with an 8.0-inch digital gauge display; a larger 12.3-inch gauge display is optional starting on the Active trim.
A host of new features are now available on the Escape, including more advanced driver-assistance tech such as an evasive-steering assist system, a wireless smartphone charging pad, and a 360-degree exterior camera.
Modest Price Increase
Pricing for the Escape is up over the 2022 model as a result, but not by much. The base Escape will retail for $28,995, an increase of just $335 over last year, while the Active starts at $30,340, the ST-Line at $31,335, the Platinum at $37,460, and the PHEV at $39,995. Order books have opened for the 2023 Escape already, and Ford says the updated SUV should arrive in dealers in early 2023.