Ford's 2013 Escape is looking a bit green today: the company announced the fuel economy figures for the compact crossover, and it achieves at least 30 miles to the gallon on the highway with all three available engines. It's good enough to make the Escape nearly the best crossover on the market, but it faces a steep challenge.
Front-Wheel Drive, <200 Horsepower: Second Place
The Escape is available with three engines: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 168 horsepower, a 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbo four making 178 horsepower, and a 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbo four making 270 horsepower. To make a long story short: if you want the best fuel economy from an Escape, skip the base 2.5.
The 2.5-liter is rated at a respectable 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway, but the 1.6-liter EcoBoost has both more power and better efficiency. It delivers a 23 mpg city/33 mpg highway rating, the best highway mpg among sub-200-horsepower front-wheel-drive CUVs. However, it does lose to the reigning fuel economy king, the Mazda CX-5, in city fuel economy: the CX-5 has a 26 mpg city rating, making it the likely overall champion in the class.
(Note: all comparisons use automatic transmissions)
Front-Wheel Drive, >200 Horsepower: Best-in-Class
The 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder in the upper Escape trim levels competes mostly against V-6 engines (including those in the Toyota RAV-4 and Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain), so it should come as little surprise that the Escape wipes the floor with them. The Escape 2.0 EcoBoost delivers 22 mpg city / 30 mpg highway, just edging out the turbocharged Kia Sportage SX (22 mpg city / 29 mpg highway). It's also between five and six mpg more than the Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain V-6 (17 mpg city / 24 mpg highway).
All-Wheel Drive, <200 Horsepower: Second Place
Escapes equipped with the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine and all-wheel drive get 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway. That's enough to crown the Escape best in this niche for highway fuel economy, slightly better than the Honda CR-V, which achieves 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway. But it still comes in second place to the Mazda CX-5, which gets 25 mpg city / 31 mpg highway.
All-Wheel Drive, >200 Horsepower: Best-in-Class
The 2.0-liter EcoBoost pays dividends when mated to an all-wheel drive system, too: it gets 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, putting it at the top of the pack of high-performance CUVs. That's five mpg more than the GMC Terrain/Chevrolet Equinox with a V-6, and two mpg more than the Toyota RAV-4 V-6.. Kia's Sportage SX does come close, since it's rated at 21 mpg city / 27 mpg highway.
The Takeaway: Look Ma, No Hybrid
Since Ford axed the Escape Hybrid with the end of the last model, the CUV segment is presently devoid of a hybrid option. Looking at the segment, however, you'd hardly miss it: the fuel economy kings in this class are using high compression ratios, trick transmissions, or turbochargers to achieve such big numbers -- not batteries and motors.
In the end, the Escape nearly wins the efficiency crown, but finishes a very close second to the 2013 Mazda CX-5. And that's when comparing automatic transmission cars: ultra-savvy buyers will note that Mazda offers a front-wheel drive manual CX-5 that achieves 26 mpg city/35 mpg highway. It's the highest mpg figure of any crossover transmission/engine/driveline combination, full stop.
Sources: Ford, Mazda, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen, Toyota, Nissan, GM