An MSRP of $21,970 may not be written in stone for the all-new 2013 Ford Escape, but as of this morning it was written on the Ford website. That’s the starting point that pops up on the vehicle’s configurator anyway, and it would be a relatively minor increase of $530 (under 2.5 percent) over the 2012 model—making the fresh Ford appear to be a fairly strong value as compared to its rivals. It would cost less than the Chevrolet Equinox, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Toyota RAV4 and the redesigned Honda CR-V, while being just $130 more than a Nissan Rogue. Of course, those numbers don’t quite tell the whole story: Not only does the cost of the aforementioned crossovers decline in the same order as they were listed, but so do their overall lengths. So, is this just a question of you get what you pay for?
The Long and Short of It
As some observers of the auto scene may know, the core vehicles of the car business—subcompact, compact and mid-size sedans—have a tendency to cluster around certain benchmarks for length in a way crossovers don’t. For example, in the mid-size segment, eight of the top nine entries are between 189.2 and 191.7 inches long, with the Honda Accord acting as an outlier at 194.9 inches. But among the entry-level crossovers, the span will reach from 178.1 inches (the new Escape) to 184.1 inches (the Hyundai Santa Fe), with the Equinox playing the outlier role at 187.8 inches. And that’s actually a narrower range than with the current entries, because the 2012 Escape is only 174.7 inches—more than a foot shorter than the Equinox.
What’s happening here is that Ford is attempting to put some dimensional distance between the Escape and truly small crossovers, like the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson, which also have notably smaller MSRPs. The former opens at $18,500, while the latter starts at $19,145. The problem? With those two being the closest to the current Escape in length, and both offering a touch more passenger volume— albeit with each trailing the Escape by more than 10 feet in cargo volume — the Ford was carrying a significant price premium of $2,295 versus the Tucson and $2,940 against the Sportage.
But how much of a boost does the 2013 Escape’s modestly increased exterior dimensions really provide?
Inside the Entry Crossover Segment
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as if Ford’s engineers were able to make the most of those few extra inches. The 2013 Escape actually loses 1.3 cubic feet of passenger room versus the 2012 model and grows cargo volume by a mere .9 cubic feet, ending up with 98.1 cubic feet of the former and 68.1 cubic feet of the latter. (Note: All cargo measurements represent volume behind the first row of seats; see accompanying chart for data.)
The CR-V, just .2 inches longer than the 2013 Escape, offers 104.1 cubes of passenger volume and 70.9 cubic feet of cargo space. The RAV4, at 181.9 inches long, delivers 108.2 cubic feet of room for passengers and 73 cubes of cargo volume, and it also can be configured with a third row of seats. There’s really no way around it: Compared to the CR-V and RAV4, the Escape is going to feel a little tight for larger customers and/or larger families. There will be a $300-$500 price advantage for the Ford, however.
On the other side of the Honda and Toyota—in terms of both length and price—are the South Korean’s second duo of smallish crossovers, the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe. Now, since these two vehicles are about half a foot longer than the Escape, there’s room for discussion as regards whether they are true rivals for the Ford; remember, the Escape’s passenger/cargo volumes in cubic feet are 98.1/68.1, while the numbers for the Sorento are 105.5/72.5 and for the Santa Fe, 108.3/78.2. A likely reason for cross-shopping these three is that Escape intenders figure the Ford is relatively close in size to the Honda and Toyota, and those two have some overlap with the Kia and Hyundai, ergo the Escape must be a match for the last two, too.
It’s worth pointing out that the other popular entries in this class, the Rogue and Equinox, despite being among the bigger crossovers under discussion, both offer less cargo volume than the Escape, and the Nissan has a little less people room as well; the Equinox, even though it’s the longest entry on the list, delivers just 99.7 cubic feet of room for occupants.
The Equinox, Sorento and Santa Fe all cost over $1,000 more than the Ford, though, and the Rogue is just $130 less expensive.
The Biggest Question
The Ford Escape had a stunning year on the sales charts in 2011, racking up 254,293 deliveries to become the best-selling crossover in the country and the fifth-best-selling vehicle of any kind. And now, although Ford didn’t press that matter, it’s a slightly better match against prime rivals like the CR-V and RAV4, while it’s gained some clear benefits over smaller entries, such as the Sportage and Tucson. Which means we can expect it to make some clear gains in sales, too, when it reaches dealerships later this year.
|Mainstream Entry Crossovers by Price, Length and Volume|
|Crossover||Price||Length||Passenger Volume||Cargo Volume|
|Hyundai Santa Fe||$23,225||184.1||108.3||78.2|
|* 2012 Ford Escape|
|**2013 Ford Escape|
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