2023 Ford Escape gets improved tech, new ST trims

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DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. is freshening its Escape crossover with new exterior styling and technology in a bid to reverse sliding sales and grow its share of the industry’s highest-volume segment.

The 2023 Escape, scheduled to go on sale early next year, will feature the latest Sync 4 infotainment system, over-the-air software update compatibility and an updated front end with a new optional light bar. Ford also has changed the Escape’s trim series, dropping SE, SEL and Titanium in favor of more customer-friendly names: Active, Platinum and ST-Line.

The plug-in hybrid Escape, introduced in 2021, will continue, but now will be offered as a separate trim. A standard hybrid variant also is available.

The refresh comes a couple of years after Ford split the segment by introducing the Bronco Sport crossover, built on the same platform but aimed at different buyers. Sales of the Escape have fallen every year since its last redesign in 2019, but brand officials project that the midcycle updates will help the nameplate increase its retail segment share from 20 percent now to 22 percent in 2023.

“We think there’s opportunity to grow further,” Craig Patterson, Ford’s utility marketing manager, told reporters ahead of the Escape’s reveal Tuesday.

Order banks for the 2023 Escape are open now, Ford said. The base model starts at $28,995, including a $1,495 shipping fee. That’s about $300 more than the 2022 model’s starting price.

The most expensive trims — the plug-in hybrid and the ST-Line Elite — start at $39,995 including shipping.

Ford added the ST-Line trim, found on other nameplates such as Explorer, to give customers a more sporty option. Buyers can choose from the ST-Line, ST-Line Select and ST-Line Elite, all of which come with unique styling cues.

Officials expect ST-Line trims to account for half of the Escape’s sales mix moving forward.

All engine options from the current model carry over to 2023. Those include the 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle hybrid engine found in the plug-in hybrid that’s expected to get up to 37 miles of electric-only range.

Ford said it updated the front end with a more “athletic, energetic” design. This includes more compact headlamps, a wider grille and an available light bar spanning the front end. Designers also moved the Blue Oval badge into the grille from above it.

The interior features an available 13.2-inch center screen as well as an available 12.3-inch digital instrument panel cluster.

U.S. sales of the Escape are down 2.2 percent year-over-year through September, according to Ford. The crossover is built at the Louisville Assembly Plant.

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