If we learned anything about compact crossovers late last year, it was that 2012 would shape up to be the year of the fuel economy number, with the key face-off being between the 2012 Honda CR-V, 2013 Mazda CX-5, and 2013 Ford Escape.
Ford has released the final EPA fuel economy numbers for the 2013 Escape, and while the car doesn’t walk away with the best all-around numbers, it does excel in most categories. Here’s how things break down.
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: while the Escape gets one more mile per gallon on the highway, the CX-5 gets three more mpg in the city. As a result, the Mazda scores a combined 29 mpg rating to the Escape’s 26 mpg combined.
(Note: all comparisons use automatic transmissions)
|Escape||1.6L Turbo I-4||6AT||178||184||23||33|
|Equinox/ Terrain||2.4L I-4||6AT||182||172||22||32|
|Tiguan||2.0L Turbo I-4||6AT||200||207||22||27|
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).
|Escape||2.0L Turbo I-4||6AT||240||270||22||30|
|Sportage||2.0L Turbo I-4||6AT||260||269||22||29|
|Equinox/ Terrain||3.0L V-6||6AT||264||222||17||24|
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.
|Escape||1.6L Turbo I-4||6AT||178||184||22||31|
|Equinox/ Terrain||2.4L I-4||6AT||182||172||20||29|
|Tiguan||2.0L Turbo I-4||6AT||200||207||21||27|
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 / 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.
|Escape||2.0L Turbo I-4||6AT||240||270||21||28|
|Sportage||2.0L Turbo I-4||6AT||260||269||21||27|
|Equinox/ Terrain||3.0L V-6||6AT||264||222||16||23|
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