Automatic parking and other cool tech on the Ford Escape Titanium
The 2013 Ford Escape Titanium compact SUV has a completely new design--and a lot of tech to go with it. Along with two displays, tons of audio inputs, and a keyless push-button start, it can parallel-park automatically--if you can stand it.
The Escape starts at $22,470 for the basic S package (2.5L engine, no touchscreen or SYNC). Our review model was the Titanium model, which starts at $30,370 and includes a 2.0L EcoBoost engine, SYNC with MyFord Touch, a keyless push-button start, and a foot-activated liftgate.
The Escape Titanium is a good-looking car, even if it doesn’t look particularly high-tech (it’s not a Tesla, let’s just say that). The four-door compact SUV has 19-inch painted aluminum wheels, molding along the sides, and a sleek, swoopy profile. The outside of the car is also packed with sensors, though you won’t notice them at first glance: They’re small, round, and they blend in fairly well along the edges of the car. The sensors help with the driver-assist technology, which includes cross-traffic assistance, blind spot monitoring, and automated parallel parking.
The Escape Titanium also has a back-up camera, which beeps at you when you get too close to an object, and a foot-activated liftgate. If you walk up to the car with the keyfob in your pocket and you kick under the rear bumper, the liftgate will open automatically (providing the car doesn’t sense any obstacles in the way). The liftgate is programmed to recognize foot-shaped objects, so a skittering animal won’t accidentally cause it to open. You can also open the liftgate manually or by pressing a button on the keyfob.
Inside, the Escape Titanium is more obviously tech-oriented. The car is equipped with SYNC and MyFord Touch. A matte-finish, 8-inch touchscreen is located in the center console. There’s also a small, customizable information screen located within the instrument cluster.
The touchscreen is nestled among buttons and knobs in the head unit. The screen has four main sections: The upper left corner is for the phone; the upper right corner is for navigation; the lower left corner is for media; and the lower right corner is for climate controls. The car also has physical climate-control buttons and knobs, located below the touchscreen.
Although the Escape Titanium has SYNC, it doesn’t have AppLink, which means the car’s phone features are limited to calling (and texting over Bluetooth, if your phone supports it). The car links up easily with a mobile device using Bluetooth, although you can't link anything via Bluetooth when the car is moving. The car can download your phone’s contact list so that you can easily call people using the vehicle’s voice-activated controls. In my test, the car has some difficulty downloading my contact list, with over 1,000 entries, which is understandable. You can also stream music through your connected phone.
At first glance, navigation on the Escape Titanium looks like it lives entirely on the touchscreen. However, you can use the car’s voice-activated controls to find and set your destination, and, once a destination is set, turn-by-turn directions are pushed to the small instrument cluster screen. Maps are nicely rendered and are easy to manipulate with your finger—you can push and pull them around the screen—though the touchscreen has some significant, obvious lag. I do like how the touchscreen displays useful information when you’re not using it: The phone corner shows your phone’s signal strength, the navigation corner shows the direction you’re facing and what street you’re on, and the climate corner shows the temperature.
Media options on the Escape Titanium are abundant, considering the car doesn’t support AppLink. There’s basic AM/FM radio, Sirius XM, a slot-loading CD player (located above the touchscreen), USB (two USB ports are located in the center storage compartment), Bluetooth, and analog auxiliary audio. You can control media from the steering wheel or the touchscreen, and by using voice.
The Escape Titanium’s steering wheel has an almost overwhelming number of buttons and levers (located behind the spokes). However, because these controls are intuitively placed and the levers have a different tactile feel, they’re actually quite easy to use. On the front of the wheel, there are two joypad-like clusters. The left cluster features four arrows and an OK button in the center, and is mainly for controlling the instrument cluster screen. From this screen you can check your vehicle status, trip meter, odometer, and you can turn on/off various driver assist features, such as the blind-spot-monitoring light on the side-view mirrors (this light is quite bright, and can be distracting at night).
The right cluster is for audio/media controls. The up/down buttons control volume, while the right/left buttons let you skip through tracks/radio stations. Below each cluster, located behind the wheel, are even more buttons. On the left, there are buttons for setting and maintaining cruise control, and on the right there are buttons for phone (you can pick up or hang up the phone), the touchscreen (there’s a home button, which takes you to the main screen, and an information button), and there’s a lever for SYNC voice-activation. To use the voice features of the Escape Titanium, just pull that lever toward you.
The 2013 Escape Titanium is a pretty high-tech car—perhaps too high-tech. I’m not a huge fan of the MyFord Touch system: The touchscreen is laggy, and some parts of it (such as the climate control) seem redundant, and not in a convenient way. However, Ford does a good job of keeping all of its tech in check,and letting you choose among touch, voice, and button-based controls for many features. This kind of flexibility helps the Escape bridge the customer gap between first adopters, for whom the tech is a selling point, and the users who still just want the car to get you from point A to point B.