Ford’s Escape gets techier, mildly Edgier for 2023

Grace Houghton

For a mid-life refresh of its fourth-generation Escape, Ford’s strategy is to stick with what works and dress it up a little better. That approach makes sense for the brand’s second best-selling SUV (after the Explorer), retaining the same powertrains and  packaging while upgrading the exterior and interior. The most obvious changes are to the grille and headlights, instrument panel, and central touchscreen. All are for the better, in our estimation.

As you’re browsing the different flavors of Escape for 2023, you’ll notice that each one has a new name. SE and SEL are now gone, the former replaced by “Active,” denoting the trim above the logically termed Base model. Ford expects Active to be its volume seller. The Titanium, once the poshest trim, is now denoted Platinum. The plug-in hybrid is now its own distinct trim.

All 2023 Escapes wear a now very Edge-like grille, topped, on some models, with a LED light strip. The illuminated bar is framed by two new headlights whose innards are reminiscent of the Mach-E’s–surely no coincidence. The hood wears more prominent creases, and dips more sharply towards the grille at its front, hinting that perhaps you are not one to cut off in the Starbucks line.

2023 Ford Escape Platinum PHEV
Grace Houghton

Ford is content to let the Bronco Sport, which shares the Escape’s essential architecture, to fly the off-road flag, so the Escape makes no great claim to off-pavement proficiency. It’s intended as a city vehicle, a focus emphasized by the addition of the ST-Line cosmetic package. (ST for style, in this case, rather than Sport Technologies.) This $995 package, which adds body-colored wheel arches, a rear spoiler, 18-inch wheels, and a black grille, is available on all Escapes other than the plug-in hybrid: The 180-hp front driver, the 250-hp all-wheel-drive car, and the 199-hp hybrid. Pay a bit extra, for the ST-Line Elite upgrade, and those wheels grow to 19 inches and are finished in black. Plus, you get that snazzy LED light bar on top of the grille. Inside, you’ll find a flat-bottom steering wheel and lots of red stitching. Half of all Escape customers, Ford expects, will opt for this sport aesthetic package.

Inside are the more arguably significant changes. CarPlay and Android Auto now operate wirelessly via Bluetooth, rather than with a cord. The instrument panel—and, on the Base and Active models, the center touchscreen—doubles in size (measured corner to corner, diagonally), from four inches to eight. Customers of the Platinum and hybrid come standard with an even larger center screen, a horizontally oriented 13.2-incher, and a more generous instrument display, measuring 12.3 inches corner to corner. This system runs Ford’s  SYNC 4 system, compared to the 2020–2022 car’s SYNC 3, a cloud-based system that supports voice recognition and will search the internet if you ask, answering questions such as, “Where is the nearest Arby’s?” SYNC 4 also supports over the air updates. Alexa is built-in, but only available for three years rent-free.

2023 Ford Escape Platinum PHEV
Grace Houghton

If what you love about your Escape is the familiar simplicity, the larger touchscreens may encourage you to shop the used market. If you’re looking for a competent package with an extra frosting of tech-savvy, however, these updates do sweeten the Escape.

You can order a 2023 Escape now; expect it at your local dealership in early 2023, with pricing details to be announced at a later date.

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    Not impressed. Ford money issues are going to hurt any new products for a bit.

    The LDD hood light is a bid odd.

    The Screen inside is a case where it is too high up on the dash. I know you want it up but not to the point it is blocking the view out the windshield. At least make it adjustable.

    I wonder if anyone will ever make a mount like a wall mount TV where you can adjust the screen up down and side to side.

    I have a TV mounted over the Fireplace but it pulls down to 3 feet over the flood from Six feet up over the mantle. Why could they not do something like this. Even if all it did was slide up and down on the dash face.


    What’s wrong with this sentence?

    “This $995 package, which adds body-colored wheel arches, a rear spoiler, 18-inch wheels, and a black grille, is available on all Focuses other than the plug-in hybrid: The 180-hp front driver, the 250-hp all-wheel-drive car, and the 199-hp hybrid.“

    Lil’ Freudian slip, perhaps…

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