The Ford Escape Titanium takes the venerable small SUV nameplate to new levels of performance and refinement, but it doesn’t come cheap. We just took delivery of one to test at the Consumer Reports test track.
As mentioned in our previous blog about our Escape SE tester, availability of the new redesigned-for-2013 Escape has been rather tight, partly due to a hailstorm that damaged about 3,500 vehicles at the plant. Finding a Titanium has been even harder, so I pounced on buying one that showed up at a local dealer. You don’t get much off sticker price when you buy the “first one on your block,” but at least there was a $1,000 factory incentiveâ€”unusual for a new model that seems to be in demand right now. We traded in our 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500, got a check for the difference, and off we went.
We bought the Titanium to try out the Escape with its top engine choice, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. While also available in lower trim levels, it was cost-effective to buy the top-trim Titanium rather than optioning up a lower-level SEL.
The Titanium model has standard equipment that previous Escapes could only dream of, including standard HID headlights, a power tailgate, and 19-inch wheels. It also comes standard with the MyFord Touch (MFT) control system, although thankfully it has traditional climate buttons and knobs instead of the infuriating flush tactile-feedback-free switches that afflict most other MFT applications.
Our car has several common options added to the already heady stack of equipment, including a panoramic sunroof, navigation, and a $995 parking technology package that includes Ford’s slick self-parking system along with blind-spot monitoring and a rear camera. But at this price, on a newly developed vehicle, the rear camera should be standard. We also think blind-spot monitoring would do well being an inexpensive stand-along option. Our Escape also has the trailer towing package; buying this option eliminates the availability of the much-touted kick-to-open-when-your-hands-are-full power tailgate.
These options brought the price up to $36,600, and we didn’t tick every option box. (For example, full leather seats would add another $895.) That seems like a lot of money for a small, mainstream SUV, but surprisingly it isn’t new territory for the Escape; consider that our very-loaded 2009 Mercury Mariner Hybrid cost us $36,615. For contemporary context, this Escape Titanium has a lot more equipment than our 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL that stickered at $37,020.
We’re curious to see how the Escape stacks up, not only against the Tiguan, but to compact sporty SUVs like the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. At first glance, the Escape might have the performance and creature comforts to play in that more-expensive league.