2013 Ford Escape – Track-tested

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We re-test the 2013 Ford Escape at the track.  Last week, Ford’s public relations machine rolled into Edmonton with a fleet of 2013 Ford Escape demo vehicles.  As part of a cross-country tour to give media writers and the public a chance to test drive the new Escape as well as learn more about other new products, such as the Focus Hybrid and Fusion.  I was thoroughly impressed when I road tested the 2013 Escape (the review was published in last week’s Driving Section), but this time we got to test the vehicles at Castrol Raceway.  Let me rephrase that.  We got to wring the Escape’s neck at the racetrack, flogging it in extreme braking, cornering and acceleration tests harder in one lap than an owner likely experiences in their lifetime.

Ford brought along five race car drivers to act as instructors for our group of racetrack rookies, including NASCAR racer Daryl Harr who hails from St. Albert.  On the street, the 2013 Ford Escape has a taut, responsive chassis – one of the best in the compact SUV segment.  On the track, the new Escape impressed me even more.

Our track vehicle was a standard equipment Titanium model (with OEM 19-in. wheels), and in one test section I entered a tight right hand turn waaaay too fast.  With the steering cranked hard right and the tires screeching, I lifted the throttle and assumed the Escape would simply slide mid-corner off course blowing through the orange cones.  Instead, the vehicle actually braked and slowed itself.  Driving editor Shelley Bindon was riding shotgun during these shenanigans and we both remarked how we felt the vehicle slow noticeably, even though I hadn’t applied the brakes.

After the track session we asked Ford rep Carlos Gonzales what technology made our Escape (that was going too fast to negotiate the corner) to slow down and successfully drive around the curve.  He explained that it was a combination of Ford’s ‘intelligent all-wheel-drive’ system and Curve Control.  Curve Control measures how much the vehicle is turning compared to how much the driver is trying to turn.  When the vehicle is not turning as fast as the driver (me) is steering, it immediately reduces power and increases brake pressure (without the driver’s intervention, and, according to Ford, much faster than a driver reacts on their own) to help bring the vehicle under control.

Let me just say the technology flat works and is blindingly impressive.  I was driving our tester much too fast for the corner, but the 2013 Escape’s advanced technology saved our bacon.  The Escape’s handling at the track and that real life demonstration of Ford’s ‘active safety’ Curve Control technology catapults it to the top of the compact SUV segment.

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