In Automotive Fleet’s 5th annual Fleet SUV of the Year award, the Ford Escape took home the top honor for 2023.
First introduced in 2019 to reflect the growing popularity of SUVs in the commercial fleet space, professional fleet managers voted the Ford Escape as their top choice based on fit and function.
“On behalf of the entire Ford Pro team, I’d like to thank Automotive Fleet for recognizing the 2023 Ford Escape as the Fleet SUV of the Year,” said Greg Wood, Ford Pro Commercial & Government Sales General Manager.
The Model Year 2023 Makeover
For model year 2023, Ford gave the Escape compact SUV a makeover that includes a stylish new ST-Line series.
“Not every customer wants a rugged and boxy SUV, so we’ve made the new Escape more energetic, confident, and sleeker,” said Amko Leenarts, director of Ford Design.
The Escape lineup also includes Base, Escape Active, Platinum, and Plug-in Hybrid models.
Escape Base and Active models offer a 1.5L EcoBoost engine with front-wheel or available all-wheel drive. The Platinum model offers a 2.0L EcoBoost engine with all-wheel drive and a hybrid powertrain option with front-wheel or all-wheel drive.
“The Escape is a multi-use SUV that has found utility across industries as a reliable and durable fleet vehicle,” Wood said.
The Ford Escape offers versatility to meet fleet needs: three engine options and four powertrains, including the 1.5L EcoBoost Engine, 2.0L EcoBoost Engine, 2.5L I-4 Hybrid Engine, and Plug-in Hybrid 2.5L I-4 Engine.
An available all-wheel-drive with AWD Disconnect detects when AWD isn’t needed and uses only the front wheels to propel the vehicle.
“Other selectable Drive Modes further enhance vehicle performance and adaptability to varying road conditions,” Wood said. “Additionally, with the available Class II Trailer Tow Package, the Escape can tow up to 3,500 lbs. with confidence, further amplifying its utility.”
Abundant Cargo Space
The Escape SUV’s cargo space is another versatile feature. The Escape offers an available 65.4 cu.-ft. of cargo space, providing ample room for tools, equipment, and more. The sliding second-row seats enhance passenger comfort with 5.9 inches of additional legroom while also offering 60/40 split-fold versatility.
“One of the most crucial elements for fleet managers is cargo space. The Escape SUV’s design makes increasing cargo space when needed even easier,” Wood added.
Comprehensive Driver-Assist Features
The Escape offers a comprehensive suite of advanced driver-assist features to help keep drivers focused on the road:
- Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB).
- BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with Rear Cross-Traffic Braking.
- Lane Keeping System comprises three systems working together:
- Lane-Keeping Aid directs the vehicle back to the center of the lane when it strays.
- Lane-Keeping Alert warns the driver with steering-wheel vibrations.
- Driver Alert signals if the vehicle has been drifting too much.
- Auto High-Beam Headlamps, which sense oncoming headlights and dim automatically. After traffic passes, they return to bright, so drivers don’t have to take their hands off the wheel.
“Safety is a top concern for fleet managers across the country, both for the well-being of their teams, the security of their valuable tools and equipment, and the uptime of their fleet overall. We at Ford Pro hear this all the time, and it has been a major focus in designing the Escape lineup,” Wood said. “Standard safety features and driver-assist features on the Escape lineup collectively provide a layer of security, helping ensure that both drivers and their assets are protected.”
Advanced New Technology
Ford also gave the 2023 Ford Escape a technology makeover. The model now has an available 13.2-inch display with cloud-connected SYNC 4 Technology and integrates wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Compatibility for fast, easy connectivity.
“The cloud connectivity combines SYNC 4 with available Enhanced Voice Recognition with the power of internet-based search results,” Wood said. “Hence, drivers and passengers can access the latest information with almost every request – from close restaurants to nearby charging stations. Available Connected Built-In Navigation delivers accurate traffic information on closures, accidents, and more.”
Other available technologies include Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go, Predictive Speed Assist, Reverse Brake Assist, Evasive Steering Assist, and Connected Built-In Navigation.
Benefits Beyond the Vehicle
The Escape comes standard with Telematics Essentials, Ford Pro’s entry-level telematics service.
“This complimentary offering transforms the health and maintenance of your fleet into actionable insights,” Wood said.
Telematics Essentials equips fleet managers with near real-time engine diagnostic codes, odometer readings, and recall information to give them a full-spectrum view of their fleet’s health. Fleet managers can also schedule maintenance and repairs directly through the application, which boosts uptime and productivity.
“At Ford Pro, we understand the unique needs of fleet managers and have designed our vehicles with technology and connectivity features to meet those demands,” Wood said. “When contractors opt for the Ford Escape and Ford Pro, they are not just getting a Built Ford Tough vehicle; they are investing in a full-fledged operational support system designed to improve uptime and productivity, complete with a network of dealers, service, and support solutions that create efficiencies, which network effect improves bottom lines.”