Ford unveils 2023 Escape to sell alongside Bronco Sport in highly competitive compact SUV segment

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2023 Ford Escape ST-Line Elite
Ford

DETROIT — Ford Motor is updating its popular Escape as part of a two-pronged sales strategy alongside the newer, more rugged Bronco Sport in the highly competitive compact SUV segment.

Ford expects the new design of the 2023 Escape, in combination with additional convenience and safety technologies, to help it sustain, if not grow, sales of the vehicle.

“The Escape is already our fourth best-selling vehicle within our portfolio, and we think we’ve got an opportunity to grow further,” said Craig Patterson, Ford SUV marketing manager, during a media briefing.

With the update, Ford is also adding a new ST sport package that the company expects to account for roughly half of the vehicle’s sales going forward. It will be available on three models, starting at $995. It features darker styling, larger wheels and other features.

The starting price for the 2023 Escape ranges from roughly $29,000 for an entry-level model to $40,000 for a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. That compares with the current lineup which goes for about $27,000 to $41,000.

The 2023 Escape is expected to begin arriving in dealer showrooms early next year. The automaker began taking reservations for the vehicle on Tuesday.

The goal is to differentiate the mainstream Escape from the more rugged Bronco Sport, allowing each vehicle to form a niche in the compact vehicle segment, according to Adrienne Zaski, Escape brand manager.

“This segment is large. It can feel commoditized. We think with the enhancements that we have here we’re going to be able to break out of the sea of sameness,” she said.

U.S. sales of the Escape outsold the Bronco Sport by roughly 30,000 units through the third quarter of this year. The Bronco Sport started arriving in Ford dealerships in the middle of last year.

Both vehicles share the same vehicle platform, or underpinnings, but are produced at different plants. The Bronco Sport is made at a factory in Mexico, while the Escape is produced at Ford’s Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky.

The 2023 Escape features headlights similar to the electric Mustang Mach-E and is also available with a full LED light bar across the front of the vehicle. Other updates include a refreshed interior, including larger screens; wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; and additional safety features.

The Escape retains its powertrain options, including a traditional hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Every model in the new lineup targets an EPA-estimated range of at least 400 miles per tank, according to Ford. The hybrid with front-wheel drive targets an EPA-estimated range of more than 550 miles.

Ford said the plug-in hybrid electric model accounts for only about 7% to 8% of current unit sales. Depending on parts and raw material costs, the carmaker may look to expand sales of those vehicles, according to Zaski. Sales of the traditional hybrid is constrained due to supply chain issues and accounts for about 15% to 20% of sales, Patterson said.

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