The 2008 Ford Escape, America’s best-selling compact utility vehicle, makes its debut today at the Los Angeles Auto Show with a restyled exterior, an all-new and quieter interior package, and a host of standard safety equipment for less money.
Set to arrive at dealerships in January, Escape aims to keep Ford the sales leader in the small utility marketplace, which is expected to top 1.5 million units in 2006.
“The Escape is about the freedom of the road and the trail,” said Cisco Codina, group vice president, North America Marketing, Sales and Service. “It’s about employing science and technology to make driving safer and greener. And it brings together nearly all of the Way Forward strategies we are following to make the Ford brand even stronger.”
In one look, you can spot the influence of Ford trucks.
The Escape’s face is bolder. The new chrome grille is prominent. And the profile is stronger, thanks to a raised hood and beltline and 17-inch aluminum wheels.
“The goal from the beginning was to make Escape look even stronger and tougher than the original,” says Doyle Letson, chief designer for the 2008 Escape. “We raised the beltline to give the profile a strong, modern proportion of sheetmetal to glass.”
A new center console with a “top of dash” display, along with the first use of Ford’s new Ice Blue interior lighting on the instrument cluster sets off an all-new interior for the 2008 Escape.
The simple, efficient design puts much of the vehicle’s information in one place at the top of the dashboard, making it easier to reference when driving.
A combination of engineering and design has also helped the 2008 Escape deliver a 12 percent reduction in noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels inside the vehicle.
“This is no doubt our quietest Escape ever,” said Usha Raghavachari, Escape marketing manager. “From redesigned side mirrors and roof rails that generate less wind resistance, or wind noise, to 50 percent thicker carpet in the interior cabin and the use of all-new acoustic glass, all have helped reduce noise in the cabin.”
The 2008 Escape is believed to be the first U.S. automotive application of seating surfaces made from 100 percent post-industrial materials, supplied by InterfaceFABRIC, Inc.
“That means less waste in our landfills and an estimated savings of an equivalent 7 million kilowatt hours of electricity and 600,000 gallons of water each year,” said Raghavachari.
The gas-powered 2008 Escape comes with two engine options. The standard 2.3-liter, 16-valve Duratec I-4 produces a more fuel efficient 153 horsepower and 152 lb.-ft. of torque, while the available 3.0-liter, 24-valve V-6 Duratec 30 engine delivers 200 horsepower and 193 lb.-ft. of torque. With a four-speed automatic, the V-6 powered Escape can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
The Ford Escape Hybrid continues to be a “full” hybrid, meaning it can run on 100 percent electric power up to 25 mph, maximizing in-city fuel economy.
Escape’s hybrid engineers also made revisions to software in the vehicle’s control system to improve transparency, or the transition between gasoline and electric operation.
Perhaps most important to the 2008 Escape message is the inclusion of Ford’s most advanced safety technology — the Safety Canopy air curtain system and, on gas-powered models, Advance Trac with Roll Stability Control (RSC) — as standard safety equipment.
“Making side impact air bags and stability control standard is the right thing to do for our customers,” said Codina. “It brings us closer to our goal of having such features standard on all of our retail products in North America by 2009. For 2008, we offer all of this on the Escape at sticker prices that will be lower — on average — by about $1,100 per vehicle.”