2023 Ford Escape: This is Not Your Baby Sister’s First Car

The 2023 Ford Escape isn't just a "starter" car anymore; this compact SUV has updated Sync 4 tech, a plug-in hybrid and plush leather seats. We all wish we had THIS as our first car.

The 2023 Ford Escape Platinum Awd Has A Simple Exterior. Photo Erica Mueller
The 2023 Ford Escape Platinum AWD has a simple exterior. Photo: Erica Mueller Credit: Erica Mueller

The 2023 Ford Escape Isn’t Just for Starters

When I think of a Ford Escape I recall my younger siblings’ first vehicle – an inexpensive little compact SUV to get back and forth from high school. And while it has been updated a lot since then, it’s still not a vehicle that stands out to me on the road. After spending a week with the 2023 Ford Escape I can say I was surprised at how very nice this little SUV, which starts at just $28,000, really is. Or, load it up with all the extras, like the AWD Platinum model we drove, for just under $43k.

The 2023 Escape, which got design and technology upgrades for the 2023 model year, has a well-rounded nature and diverse trim levels catering to various preferences and budgets, making it a great starter car for students. The comfortable ride quality, spacious interior, and impressive cargo space make it a practical choice for small families. It would even be a great option for pet owners due to its large cargo capacity (up to 65.4 cubic feet) for animal crates.

The hybrid and PHEV options demonstrate Ford’s commitment to offering eco-friendly choices.

Related: Here’s a Thank You from Ford: the 2023 Ford Escape

I Love The Quilted Leather Seats In The 2023 Ford Escape Platinum Awd. Photo Erica Mueller

I love the quilted leather seats in the 2023 Ford Escape Platinum AWD. Photo: Erica Mueller

A Daily Driver’s Dream

If you’re looking for an all-wheel-drive daily driver with decent fuel economy and a decadent interior, the 2023 Ford Escape Platinum might be your dream car. While it doesn’t scream high-end luxury on the outside, the Escape’s interior is loaded with comfort and technology. The buttery soft quilted leather seats made a big impression on us, especially considering the 60/40 split rear seats were just as nice as the front! We also loved having wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a super fast 13.2” multimedia system, a fully digital 12.3” drivers display, a head up display, and a really clean and uncluttered console area. But I think the best part is the pep this little compact SUV has under the hood. It is truly a joy to drive. 

Related: Why I Love My Subaru Forester

2023 Ford Escape Platinum Awd Features Photos By Erica Mueller -

These are some of my favorite features in the 2023 Ford Escape Platinum AWD. Photos: Erica Mueller

From Outside to Inside in the Ford Escape

The Star White Metallic Tri-Coat paint costs a little extra but it’s a beautiful soft white that reminds me of my favorite pearl earrings. The panoramic moonroof lets in so much natural light and gives the cabin a very spacious feel. 19” dark aluminum wheels give this compact SUV a higher stance and help to elevate the otherwise plain exterior. 

Inside you get 2 rear seats with easy to access LATCH hooks for children’s car seats. There are USB-C and USB-A charging ports in the front and a USB-A charging port in the rear. The gear shift is a rotary dial on the console, and most of your multimedia controls are on the steering wheel for easy access without looking away from the road. The 360-degree camera makes parking and backing up safe and easy. 

If you’re looking at a first car for your student, or you live in a wet climate, you really need to check out the AWD version of the Ford Escape. Even though we didn’t need the AWD the week we had this car, I really appreciated the solid drive experience on our winding roads and wished more vehicles had this option when I was a teen driver.

Related: Why Buying an SUV Was the Right Fit

The Panoramic Moonroof In The 2023 Ford Escape Platinum Awd Offers A Spacious Feeling. Photo Erica Mueller

The panoramic moonroof in the 2023 Ford Escape Platinum AWD offers a spacious feeling. Photo: Erica Mueller

How Much Does the 2023 Ford Escape Cost? It’s Complicated.

This well-rounded compact SUV has a wide range of trim levels to suit various preferences and budgets, from practical family car to a stylish urban cruiser, as well as 3 engine options, AWD and lots of extra options. Here are the highlights:

  • The Base model starts at an affordable base price of $28,000, the Base trim is powered by a 1.5L 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine that produces 180 nHP. Standard features include the Ford Co-Pilot360 suite, which encompasses advanced safety features like automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. The multimedia system is intuitive and comes with a 4.2-inch display, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto compatibility.
  • The Active model, priced at around $29,345, adds more convenience and comfort. It has the larger 8-inch touchscreen multimedia system, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a power-adjustable driver’s seat. The Active trim also offers an optional hybrid powertrain for those seeking better fuel economy.
  • The ST-Line model, which is designed for a sportier look and feel, starts at approximately $30,340. It has a larger 2.0L 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine that produces 250 HP and adds more premium features: A sliding second row, 18″ wheels, track-inspired flat-bottom steering wheel, unique badging, and red accents on black leather seats come standard. The SYNC 3 multimedia system with an 8-inch touchscreen provides a more refined user experience.
  • The ST-Line Select model starts at $33,540; this adds AWD, LED lighting, heated front seats, and more. You can take the ST-line one step further with an Elite trim starting at $37,960 to get a 360-degree camera and SYNC 4 with a 13.2″ multimedia screen.
  • The Platinum trim, with a starting price of around $36,965, offers a luxury feel within the compact SUV segment. You’ll enjoy a Bang & Olufsen premium audio system, a heated steering wheel, navigation, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Titanium trim also offers advanced safety features like adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, lane centering, and a 360-degree camera system.
  • The ST Line Elite, which takes the sport trim to the height of luxury, starts at $38,460 and includes most of the features on the Premium model and AWD.
  • The Escape Plug-in Hybrid model takes the top spot on price at $40,500. It has a 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine that produces 210 HP and two electric motors that generate enough power to drive 37 miles on electric only; the gas-powered hybrid engine is estimated to get 40 MPG. The PHEV is packaged similarly to the ST Line model and while AWD is not available, many of the nicer features, such as the 12.3″ multimedia screen are available as options.
  • The ST and Premium models can upgrade to the 2.5L 4-cylinder hybrid engine, estimated to get 39 MPG
  • Add AWD as an option, $1,500

If the Escape is something you have your eye on, get it while you can. Reports have said that Ford is planning to sunset this compact SUV with the 2025 model year as they retool the lineup to focus on electric cars.

The Graceful Back End Of The 2023 Ford Escape Platinum Awd. Photo Erica Mueller

The graceful back end of the 2023 Ford Escape Platinum AWD. Photo: Erica Mueller

Not Your Baby Sister’s Car

This week proved to me that the Escape has grown up. I could see myself driving one on a daily basis, and that’s saying a lot considering I’m a truck girl. It had plenty of room for all three of my kids, plus groceries, musical instruments, and a stroller. It handled our rural roads with ease, made me feel safe, and offered all of the technology I love in a new car.

For an AWD SUV I was impressed with the fuel economy of 23 MPG city and 31 MPG highway for a combined 26 MPG. We averaged 27 MPG according the computer which I felt that was very reasonable for the way I drive. Compact SUVs like the 2023 Ford Escape make it easy to see why sedans are losing traction and everyone wants something a little more.

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A web developer, digital marketing consultant, auto journalist, truck expert, photographer and lover of gadgets, Erica is a textbook... More about Erica Mueller