The @Ford Escape, an awesome car February 26, 2013
I bought a Ford Escape
I needed a people-mover. I had a 5 week hellish relationship with a Honda CR-V. I traded the CR-V for a 2013 Ford Escape Titanium with Nav, Panoramic Sunroof, and Parking. It was perhaps the most stark contrast between bad and good cars I've ever experienced.
My favorite cars
I've owned a lot of cars in my life. My top favorites are, in order:
- 2004 Acura TL. Best blend of fun, relaxed, toys, and reliability I've ever owned.
- 1987 Ford Taurus. Like the Acura, an excellent blend.
- 1994 SAAB 9000 Aero. Sportier and more cargo practical than the TL or Taurus, but not quite as refined.
- 1990 Ford Mustang GT. A 5.0 liter engine in a light car. More fun than a barrel of monkeys drinking draft beer.
Let me put the Mustang aside for a minute. It was a hoot. It was a blast. It got the transport job done, but was always begging to play, play, play.
The other three cars were an excellent blend of fun to drive (yes, the Taurus in its day was very fun to drive), practical, and had stuff like climate control, etc.
The Escape is quickly joining my top cars of all time list. I haven't had it for long enough to figure out what its warts are, but so far, it seems to be particularly awesome at everything it does.
The joy of Escape
The Escape is big enough for Archer and a slew of 8 year olds. Yet it's short and easier to maneuver than my 2011 Fusion Hybrid or the TL.
The Escape is something nice enough to pick up a business contact at the airport, fun enough to go blasting up the Pacific Coast Highway, practical enough to haul a pile of stuff from IKEA, and so far has been very good on gas (except when I put my right foot down.)
The Escape is an excellent blend of car that suits a lot of different facets of my personality.
I've always liked sunroofs in cars. But I was taken aback at Ford's $1,400 panoramic sunroof. That was, until I drove the Escape with the PSR.
Oh my… the car really opened up. Having all that glass… glass and light that extends from the front to the back of the car is just wonderful.
The Escape feels very open and light-filled. Puts me in a good mood.
The Escape's controls are very, very well laid out. The right control seems to be in the right place. The materials in the cabin are just great… they feel good in my hand.
Of special note are the steering wheel controls. They are laid out logically and understandably. I can navigate these controls without taking my eyes off the road.
The volume knob on the radio is big and prominent. The climate controls are easy to find and easy to manage.
The turn signals, wiper controls, etc. are laid out nicely.
The power window controls (all automatic up/down) are at just the right place, and the window lock button locks the rear window buttons, but allows the front buttons to function (helpful when the little monsters are playing with the windows.)
The Parking System
Ford's parking system is amazing.
The back-up camera gives a ton of audio and visual information. The dark/light transitions are seamless so I always see what's behind me even pulling out of my garage.
The front distance sensors are very helpful in gauging where the front of the car is. I had the front sonar sensors on a Mercedes I rented in Europe and it was invaluable for maneuvering in tight parking garages. No more scraped bumpers.
The auto-park thing is a sweet toy, but every time the car parallel parks itself, I feel guilty that I'm not keeping up my parallel parking skills.
Basically, the parking system gives you all the information to see and hear all around the car.
Oh… and the BLIS stuff is nice on the road but beyond wonderful when backing out of an angled parking space onto a busy street. I had BLIS in my Ford Fusion and it saved my butt on a fair number of occasions.
But how does it drive
The Ford Escape feels like my old BMW 540i.
The Escape is quiet. The Escape is solid as a rock.
I can do my "limousine style" driving in the city. The throttle control and brakes are incredibly responsive and easy to modulate. Plus doing relaxed limousine style driving saves gas… no quick starts or stops, but a seamless transition down the road.
The Escape is fast when you need to merge or squirt in between two cars.
The 240hp, 270ft/lb turbo 2.0 liter engine is quiet, powerful, good on gas when driven carefully and fast as heck when you mash the fast-pedal. The transmission is nicely geared and generally gets it right, although there's a manu-matic self-shifting mode.
I took the car up the Pacific Coast Highway and it was a total dream. I can't wait for it to be broken in, so I can really have some fun with it.
The car drives a lot like the SAAB, but the engine is more responsive… like the Acura TL's.
There are a ton of details that make the Escape just wonderful:
- The HID headlights are bright and awesome… and when you turn the wheel beyond a certain angle, you get side lights as well.
- The push-button-to-start thing is amazing. It's great to never take the keys out of my pocket… just walk up to the car, it unlocks itself, get in, push the start button and it's ready to go.
- The "wave your foot under the rear bumper and the lift gate opens" feature is beyond amazing… especially when I'm carrying armloads of stuff.
- The seats are firm, supportive, and very comfortable.
- The car itself is firm and solid. It does feel so much like my BMW 540i. I know I keep saying that… but it's true. Ford managed to get the Bimmer feel nailed… no too bad for a $30K car with a ton of toys and a ton of practicality.
All in all, it seems that Ford really focused on the details and got them right.
Ford has spent a lot of time and effort getting the in-car electronics right.
I had some less than kind things to say about the previous generation of the system.
The current version isn't quite iPad quality, but it's certainly Nexus 7/Android quality.
What is more important is that Ford is improving. Working and improving means that it's more likely that I'll look at Ford the next time I buy a car.
I'll work up a detailed post about it over the next couple of months.
The car-buying experience
Buying a Ford was mostly a good experience, although the incentives games that Ford plays require a lot of work to master and quite frankly, I wish Ford would have a price and stick to it. If Ford has an incentive on a car, that incentive should stick until the car is sold (but not apply to new inventory.) The Ford factory-to-dealer incentives meant that I had to communicate with a bunch of different sales people to triangulate the actual incentive structure. This initially drove me to into the arms of Honda.
I bought from Sunnyvale Ford
I bought my Escape from Sunnyvale Ford because they were direct about pricing and they had the right model/color/options of Escape in stock. There were some issues with my sales person that mean I don't give a shout-out to him, but the rest of the Sunnyvale team pulled together to create a more excellent car-buying experience.
What is very interesting is that Sunnyvale Ford hired a guy to make sure that customers are satisfied and that the satisfied customers take to social media to get the word out.
Smart… very smart. Doing satisfied customers/social media/sales people on email in the heart of silicon valley is the way to go.
I highly recommend visiting the folks at Sunnyvale Ford. I hope you'll share my surprise at how excellent the people and product is.
Two Ford dealer shout-outs
I want to give shout-outs to two other Ford sales people. Sorry dudes that I didn't buy from you. It was purely a color I wanted in stock issue. I hope this blog post results in leads and closed sales:
- Adam Brown from Hilltop Ford: (415) 827 - 4035
- Dennis Smith from Frontier Ford: (408) 655-2293. I especially like that Frontier Ford has their discounted prices advertised on their web site.
Next time I buy a car, I'll check with Sunnyvale, Dennis, and Adam first.
Ford -- the good and bad
Ford has made a lot of strides to make the car-buying and ownership experience good for folks like me that live online. There are also improvements Ford can make.
I love that I can check inventory at a dealer. It makes it really easy to figure out if it's worth a physical visit.
Ford has a slew of videos of Escape features. These are darned sweet.
The whole Ford Sync my Ride site needs to be burned down. There isn't a modern browser in the list of supported browsers. The site requires Java in order to perform certain functions and we all know about Java's security problems. Come on guys… I know Sync is all Microsoft and such, but the kind of people you want buying your cars use Chrome, Safari, Mozilla… on a Mac or Linux box.
To use the site, I have a Windows virtual machine that I use and I reset the VM to original condition after each access to the Ford site in cases there was a drive-by virus download or something. Not good.
I'd like to see Ford embrace what the folks at Sunnyvale Ford are doing and start to work social media and email at the dealer, sales person, and customer support level.
I'd like to see Ford do a much better job in their support forums and publish more information on supported devices (why, for example does music play of an SD card when inserted into the SD slot in the car, but not in a USB thumb drive?) It would require an initial set of investments in having Ford employees work the support forums, but once people learn that they get support in the forums, they will help each other and reduce the burden on Ford.
Even though the whole CR-V to Escape transition cost me a lot of time and money, I couldn't be happier in terms of the car that I got.
I'm stoked to be driving the 2013 Ford Escape.