Escape really is all-new for 2013. Since hitting the market in 2000, Escape has been through two generations and a refresh, most recently in 2009. The previous generation Escape was a traditional two box design, with a truckish look and a fairly upright windshield. It was masculine and tough-looking, tying in to the Explorer and F-Series aesthetic of the moment.
Times have changed, and so has the target market for compact utility vehicles. Ford Marketing Manager Jason Sprawka told me that the target for Escape was a woman in her late 20s/early 30s named "Carrie." She will find the new Escape to be a stylish companion, fitting in with the latest crossover designs. Escape has a much more aerodynamic look than before, with a faster, more steeply raked windshield, a lower hood and a much more dynamic, athletic profile than before. Escape is closer to the teardrop shape of a Nissan Murano, Mazda CX-5 or Kia Sportage than it is to the upright look of a Toyota RAV4 or the outgoing Escape.
A big trapezoidal grille opening sits at the center base of the front fascia, while a smaller opening above it houses the blue Ford oval and a single chrome crossbar. Big headlights wrap the front corners horizontally, leading back toward a slightly rising beltline that emphasizes forward motion. The roofline slants gently downward at the rear, again giving that sense of motion. Around back, a good-sized fixed glass rear window provides visibility, and prominent LED taillights wrap around the rear corners.
Overall, it's a pretty successful design, if lacking in much distinction. This is what happens when designers and engineers compete for wind tunnel numbers -- there's little room left for real individuality. At least the final result is well executed, and inoffensive at worst. To my eye, the new Escape looks smaller than the outgoing vehicle -- but my eye is wrong. The new Escape is actually four inches longer than the old one, and slightly wider.