Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A close up shows a white 2023 Ford Escape Platinum with distant mountains.

Meet the New Ford Escape Family for 2023

Drivers looking for a Ford Escape dealer are in for a treat in 2023 because Ford is bringing this popular SUV back to its rugged and athletic roots. The first-generation Escape debuted in 2001 and capitalized on the growing demand for more adventurous SUVs with its trail-ready design and available V6 powertrain. The Escape’s all-wheel drive system was one of the most advanced in the new millennium and earned it a prominent place in the Ford lineup.

Although the Escape has retained its credibility in the fleet, age has taken the once-rugged SUV away from its trail-worthy roots and transformed it into a pavement-happy SUV. The recent introduction of the Bronco Sport reiterated that transformation, but the 2023 Escape proves that Ford is determined to find a balance for its smallest SUV. But what does that balance look like for the recently redesigned model? The 2023 Escape has a rugged aesthetic with optional all-wheel drive. The Escape is content with leaving off-road adventures to its Bronco siblings in exchange for greater versatility and outstanding efficiency on the pavement.

Beyond its rugged aesthetic, what else can you expect from the Escape in 2023? The Escape’s redesign also introduces a new lineup that exchanges the S, SE, SEL, and Titanium for more modern alternatives. Here is a closer look at the new trims that make up the 2023 Escape’s family tree: the Base, Active, ST-Line, and Platinum, and the standalone Escape Plug-In Hybrid.

Escape Base

The Escape Base starts the lineup for 2023 at $27,500 and lays the foundation for the five-seat SUV and its standard features. However, unlike many other entry-level trims, the Escape Base is well-equipped and showcases Ford’s refusal to require drivers to compromise on quality, technology, and performance. So, how does Ford accomplish such a feat and keep the base model budget-friendly?

The 2023 Escape Base comes standard as a front-wheel drive model, powered by Ford’s proven 1.5L EcoBoost engine and eight-speed automatic transmission. The combination delivers 180 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque, which is plenty of power for an SUV of this size and makes it incredibly agile and efficient. Moreover, you can harness this power by opting for Ford’s Intelligent all-wheel drive system that maximizes traction and power delivery without compromising the Escape’s fuel-sipping characteristics.

The Escape’s ample power and engaging driving dynamic are only bettered by the SUV’s many standard features and interior amenities. For example, the Escape is one of the few models in the segment to be equipped with wireless smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. You’ll also reap the benefits of the Ford Co-Pilot360 suite working behind the scenes with tools like Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking and Cross-Traffic Alert. These features actively enhance your safety and minimize the potential for a collision.

A close up shows the controls and tumbler in a 2023 Ford Escape.

Escape Active

The Escape Active builds on the Base by adding conveniences and distinct design details. Like the Escape Base, it comes standard with the 1.5L EcoBoost and eight-speed automatic transmission. Drivers also have a choice to upgrade the front-wheel drive model with Ford’s Intelligent all-wheel drive system. But what else differentiates the Active and gives it a sportier aesthetic?

The Escape Active gives you a choice between an Ebony or Space Gray interior, which is a notable difference from the Ebony-exclusive interior in the Escape Base. The Active’s interior is also immediately distinguishable with its rotary gear shift dial, which offers a more modern and sportier feel. It’s also a practical design upgrade, allowing for USB ports, additional console storage, and extra cup holders.

Ford’s success at blending functional design details continues throughout the cabin. For example, the Escape Active features dual-zone electronic automatic temperature control that lets you and your passenger adjust the temperature individually for optimal comfort as you navigate the road. The dual-zone temperature control is an essential upgrade for the Active, particularly for couples or commuters who carpool. Other functional features in the Active include a power liftgate, which ensures easy access to the rear cargo area and its 65.4 cu.ft. of available space.

Escape ST-Line

The Escape ST-Line is all-new for 2023 and transforms the SUV into an athletic road warrior. Available in three models, the ST family includes the standard ST-Line, ST-Line Select, and ST-Line Elite. These three distinct styling packages add to the Escape’s appeal but not more so than the available 2.0L EcoBoost engine on the Select and Elite models. The 2.0L powerplant outfits the Escape with Ford’s Intelligent all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission with SelectShift and paddle shifters. The combination is remarkable, churning out 250 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque for exceptional performance and responsiveness.

Beyond this incredible performance, you’ll discover many distinct design details throughout the three models. The ST-Line starts the lineup and immediately distinguishes itself with its athletic design cues, from the track-inspired flat-bottom steering wheel to the all-Ebony interior with its red accent stitching. The model also comes with 18-inch Rock Metallic painted-aluminum wheels, a feature it shares with the ST-Line Select.

If you’re not thrilled by the Rock Metallic wheels, Ford has the option to add the premium 19-inch Machine-Faced Ebony Painted aluminum wheels to the ST-Line Select. The model also has LED reflector headlamps with signature lighting and available LED fog lamps for enhanced visibility. In addition, Ford enhances the model’s appeal by adding heated front-row seats and a 10-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support. These features carry over to the ST-Line Elite, which outfits the SUV with more technology. For example, you’ll find a 360-degree camera with split-view capability that gives you a clear view around the SUV from the convenience of the Escape’s expansive 13.2-inch touchscreen display that’s also home to Ford’s latest SYNC 4 infotainment system.

Escape Platinum

Drivers who value luxury and premium features will find that and more in the 2023 Escape Platinum. The top-tier Escape trim differentiates itself because it comes standard with the heartier 2.0L EcoBoost engine and Intelligent all-wheel drive System. Or, you can opt for Ford’s hybrid powertrain, a 2.5L iVCT Atkinson Cycle inline-four available with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Like the EcoBoost, the hybrid power plant is incredibly capable and works with an electronic continuously variable transmission to deliver 192 hp and 155 lb-ft of near-instant torque.

Apart from the powertrain options, the Escape Platinum shares many similarities with the ST-Line Elite and its penchant for luxury and innovative technology. For example, the Platinum also comes standard with Ford’s SYNC 4 infotainment system on a 13.2-inch LCD touchscreen that gives you seamless access to your smartphone, navigational features, and other apps. The display also houses a 360-degree camera with split-view capability that gives you a bird’s-eye view around the Escape to make navigating the SUV easier.

Escape Plug-In Hybrid

One of Ford’s most notable changes to the Escape’s lineup in 2023 is making the Escape Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) a standalone model rather than a powertrain option. This adds to the PHEV’s appeal because it further distinguishes it in the lineup. For example, it blends the hybrid performance you’ve come to love from Ford’s hybrid powertrains but adds luxury, innovation, and convenience with several unique features and details.

Like Ford’s hybrid powertrain, the Escape Plug-In Hybrid operates with a 2.5L iVCT Atkinson Cycle inline-four powertrain but is only available in front-wheel drive. It works with an electronic continuously variable transmission to optimize power output and deliver 210 combined hp and 155 lb-ft of near-instant torque. The increased hp is remarkable, giving the PHEV a significant advantage over its hybrid sibling.

Apart from this distinct difference, the Escape PHEV also comes with conveniences like a power liftgate and advanced technology like Ford’s 13.2-inch touchscreen display with SYNC 4. Ford sweetens the PHEV’s packaging by adding its Connected Built-In Navigation with Enhanced Voice Recognition, which pairs exceptionally well with the available head-up display that puts navigational cues on the windshield so that your eyes never have to leave the road. Along with three years of service to real-time route guidance, live traffic updates, and vital information, the Escape PHEV delivers everything you need to navigate the road ahead confidently.

A person is shown charging a red 2023 Ford Escape Hybrid.

Choosing the Perfect Model

Are you looking for a budget-friendly SUV that doesn’t force you to settle for less? Or, are you in the market for an athletic road warrior loaded with the latest features? The 2023 Escape can answer those needs and deliver so much more with its diverse lineup that showcases Ford’s keen attention to detail and awareness of how vastly different drivers are and what they want in an SUV. The Escape answers all these needs and demands with style, luxury, and innovative technology sans a mile-high price tag.