Why Ford's 2014 Escape Will Dominate Competition

Ford's 2014 Escape. Photo: Ford.

If you spend any time on the road, you've probably noticed a huge increase in the number of Ford (NYSE: F  ) Escapes driving around. The Escape is one of Ford's many huge wins in the U.S. market since the Great Recession, and it's been an absolute hit with critics and consumers alike. It's on pace to top 300,000 in vehicle sales this year, which hasn't been done since the late '90s and early 2000s, when Americans were in love with gas-guzzling massive SUVs. This time, with a popular EcoBoost option and MPG that ranges between 22 in the city and 33 on the highway -- depending on which trim and engine you buy -- it's a night-and-day difference between the SUVs of old.

Here are the details on the Ford Escape, why it's winning over consumers, and why happy consumers equal happy investors.

Revving up
As the old saying goes, "if it aint broke, don't fix it" -- and that applies very well to the 2014 Escape. Sales have absolutely taken off and Ford figures this trend will continue.

Information from Automotive News DataCenter. 2013 is projected from sales through May.

The Escape has set monthly records almost all year, including its best March and April months in its entire history.

For the new model year, the Escape has a few small tweaks, including a backup camera and SYNC infotainment system on all trim levels. The price on its premium trim, the Titanium, has been dropped slightly, which is good, because if you load up on options, the Escape can become one of the more expensive models in the SUV segment -- although consumers willingly pay the price in droves.

Through May, the Escape was the best-selling SUV in the U.S. market and was a very impressive 29.7% increase over last year. -- a great place to review vehicles -- calls it one of their favorite standouts in a segment full of worthy competitors.

Its exterior has an aggressive look to it, with a unique grille and sleek styling. "The Ford Escape combines outstanding fuel economy, versatility and helpful, intuitive technology in a sleek package to make it the 'smarter utility vehicle,'" said Ford group VP Raj Nair in a press release. "This is a hot and competitive segment, and we've added more reasons for customers to consider Escape." 

It's a surprisingly agile ride, and its specially engineered torque converter and revised gear ratios give it a balanced feel in any driving situation. That basically means it delivers incredible handling on pavement as well as off-road -- not that many consumers will be trekking the mountainside with their new ride.

The Escape also has a handful of safety features that have been a hit with consumers. Its Blind Spot Information System, or BLIS, displays an alert in the mirror if a vehicle is detected. It also has a parallel parking feature, with which, at the press of a button, it steers itself into the space while you control the gas and brake.

Also, according to, in government crash tests the Escape performed well and received four out of five stars for frontal-impact crash protection and five stars for side impact protection.

All the hype isn't limited to the Escape's safety and exterior. The interior is impressive as well.

Interior of Ford's 2014 Fusion. Photo: Ford.

Its dash and interior are made with great materials and have an excellent finished look. When you step in, you really get a sporty and modern impression.

One of the only knocks on the Escape, as pointed out in a recent study by J.D. Power & Associates, is the MyFord Touch system. While the 8-inch display has a nice look, it still has many tweaks to be made for it to quit frustrating consumers. This is to be expected and is often the case with new infotainment technology; expect it to improve over the next couple of years.

Investing takeaway
The Escape is part of a huge push in what Ford calls the "Super Segment." It's basically four segments that Ford expects to surge in the coming years, represented by the Fusion, Focus, Fiesta, and Escape. In this case, a happy consumer equals happy investors, because the Escape brings in a higher transaction price than standard cars, and with premium options, it brings in better margins as well.

Ford is also years ahead of rival General Motors in consolidating its global platforms, which is partially why Ford's margins in North America came in at 11% last quarter compared with GM's 6.2%. The Escape also represents a push by Ford to change consumer perception -- this is no longer the same Ford that produced poor-quality vehicles for years and years. It will take time to change that stereotype, but it is clear that the Escape is the best-selling SUV this year, and Ford's best SUV since the Explorer dominated a decade ago.

America still has plenty of room for growth with its annual sales rate well below what we saw before the recession and the average age of vehicles at record highs. As our economy continues to grow and access to credit is available, expect sales for Ford's popular vehicles to drive top-line revenues and bottom-line profits -- a huge win for savvy investors.

Ford share sits at a decent price today, nowhere near as undervalued as it was six months ago, but still a great opportunity for investors who are patient to watch its developments improve in Europe and China. I believe we could see Ford's net income improve 50% by late 2015, and that would send the share price soaring -- only time will tell, but Ford deserves to be on any investor watchlist. 

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Read/Post Comments (15) | Recommend This Article (7)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2013, at 1:36 PM, prginww wrote:

    Dream on Ford. Anything beats a Ford truck!

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2013, at 1:45 PM, prginww wrote:

    Anything beats a Ford truck? Really?

    Is that the same Ford truck that has been America's best-selling truck for 36 years, and America's best-selling vehicle for 31 years?

    Is that the same Ford company that ranks #1 in consumer loyalty?

    Dream on Smitty!

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2013, at 1:55 PM, prginww wrote:

    I wouldn't have a new Escape UGLY!!!!!. Not to mention that they are not pro customer anymore. I have a 2006 Escape and love it but my next vehicle will probably be an Audi or Volvo.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2013, at 2:15 PM, prginww wrote:

    I rented a 2013 Ford Escape 2.0 Ecoboost AWD, and drove it from Orlando To Pittsburgh and back.

    I averaged 29.7 mpg. i was very impressed with the power that it had in the mountains. Had no hicups and the infocenter was easy to use. I would consider purchasing one on the experence that I had with it.

    The car i own now is a 2003 Ford focus SVT, 137000 miles of trouble free driving. Ford has gotten their stuff together for sure.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2013, at 2:31 PM, prginww wrote:

    I bought a new Escape Titanium about 5 weeks ago and so far am loving it. It looks awesome with compiments eerywhere, drives great and can be driven like a race car if you like and is basically a great vehicle. Well done Ford!

    As far as Audi and Volvo...prior to the Escape I had a 2006 BMW X5 and the Escape drives as well and actually is better in the performance dept. Plus it gets at least 30% better MPG. Prior to the X5 I was driving an Audi A6 and a Volvo XC90. The Escape does not seem like a step down from any of these vehicles except for some wood grain, etc. Ok,maybe a bit with the A6 but all three of those "Luxury" vehicles have price tags way higher than my Escape that has every option and more and is just as fun to drive.

    Averaging 24-25 mph in a great looking, fun SUV with 240hp. Ford has done well with the new Escape and I will probably look at them again in 2-3 years. BTW...Ford has sold this vehicle as the "Kuga" in Europe for a few years so it's actually only new in the USA.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2013, at 2:42 PM, prginww wrote:

    I love my '07 Escape. However, when looking for a new SUV I hated that they turned it into a crossover. I bought a Benz GLK350 instead and gave the '07 to my college kid.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2013, at 3:43 PM, prginww wrote:

    We have had our Escape for 6 weeks now and we love it! Great MPG in the city 28.2 and on the highway 32.5 which is with the air on doing 70! This car if fun to drive and looks great a real head turner! I have owned 2006,2008 and a 2010 escape and they were nice cars but this one blows them away! Way to to go FORD!!!!!!!

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2013, at 3:43 PM, prginww wrote:

    I've got one and I love it. It's my 2nd one, definitely won't be my last

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2013, at 3:44 PM, prginww wrote:

    Ok, so this past weekend, I rented a 2014 Ford Explorer. (Yes, I know this article is about the Escape... but I'm relating my experience with Ford a few years ago, to Ford stuff now.) I was thinking how beautiful the Explorer was when I got in it. All leather seating, all the bells and whistles. The car only had 4.1 miles on it. I was the first real driver.

    I got out on the road... terrible play in the wheel. So I was going to rest my hands in the middle part of the steering wheel at the bottom. They have put a weird triangle area there that doesn't allow the driver to rest their hands there - forcing them to keep their hands at 10 & 2 or the 8 & 4 positions, just to keep the vehicle from moving all over the road. I have a 2010 Ford Edge. The LAST of the Fords made in America. The new ones have their parts built in Canada and Spain... assembled in the U.S.. But the WORST thing of all is that stupid Eco-boost. My point is, if someone had NOT driven a Ford prior to all of this eco-boost garbage, they wouldn't know that these cars have no power when you press the accelerator - which was dangerous for me when trying to enter the busy freeway this past weekend. So all the pretty Escape interior stuff and the looks of it outside might be blinding the buyer from the real issue... these cars stink under the hood!

    But coming back home to my 2010 Ford Edge (with all the bells and whistles... but not near as many as that Explorer I rented this weekend) I was so happy to be able to accelerate and get up in the 75 mile an hour traffic on the Southern California freeways! Ford was making good stuff. Now it just feels like you have a U-Haul "governor" keeping the power down to nothing!

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2013, at 3:54 PM, prginww wrote:

    Thanks for reading all.

    I'm really glad to hear that Ford's vehicles, including the Escape, are really impressing you all. Such a huge change from how things were six years ago!

    Alan Mulally brought a huge change in corporate attitude, and it's filtered down into the products. Definitely back to being an American icon in my opinion.


  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2013, at 7:42 PM, prginww wrote:

    Well geez, everyone loves their new car, but it is when the cars are 5 to 10 years old that Fords start to fall apart.

    Look at the Ford Explorer. Model years 2000 to 2004 are starting to rack up mileage of over 100,000, and now you can start reading there are hundreds of complaints about the transmissions going out. I always keep my cars 10 years, and I have NEVER had a transmission go out until my 2003 Ford Explorer reached just 115,000 miles.

    And I think this "article" was really ghost written by Ford.

    Thank you.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2013, at 7:50 PM, prginww wrote:

    I own a 2001 Ford Escape, at the time of purchase it only had a little over 9,000 miles on it. Happy to say it is now sell over 100,000 and still running like a champ. This has been the best vehicle, very dependable. If I was in the position to buy a new car it will most definitely be a Ford Escape.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2013, at 9:29 PM, prginww wrote:

    went to ford country in las vegas was going to buy a escape but when the dealer only offered me 3000 for my car i said are you kidding me she said no 3000 grand i walked out went to 3 other dealers not ford and they all offered me from 6500 to 7500 so ford you can kiss my ---ss

  • Report this Comment On July 01, 2013, at 1:55 AM, prginww wrote:

    My Dad has always been a Ford/Lincoln guy. The older Fords and Lincolns were good.

    He had a Lincoln/Versallies,which was a fixed up Ford Granada. He said that was a good car, I liked it too!!

    His last Lincoln was a Continental. Sure the car was fast,V8 engine,but always leaking oil. It was always having a problem.

    I finally got him to get a Toyota. He loves his Camry. Says the 4 cylinder Camry scares him its so fast for a 4 cylinder. Gets great gas mileage. The car is light,old Fords were too heavy!!

    My wife's 1997 Camry has 145,000 miles,no problems.

    When Fords get about 5 years on them,or about 80,000 miles,watch out! ( FORD )FIX Or Repair Daily!!

    American cars sucks!! They say American cars are getting better ? I beg to differ!! Japanese cars are built to last,unlike American cars!!

    Good luck with Ford!!

    I work at a hotel, Valet cars. I see lots of cars come in. One guest rented a (new) Ford Explorer. It was overheating,had to call the rental company to come pick it up. Whatever you Ford people say,JUNK!!

  • Report this Comment On July 01, 2013, at 10:05 AM, prginww wrote:

    Ford Escape is a pile of junk. Alan Mullay has done a great job of selling gimmicks and cost cutting where people dont realize.

    My GMC Terrain is a bigger vehicle and gets 32 mpg highway. So I get more space and basically the same gas as the Escape. My Terrain has much more insulation which is why the road noise in the Terrain is almost nill. My Terrain has TRIPLE door seals to keep the noises out. Ford has single. My Terrain has double pane laminated glass for noise control. The Escape has single. My Terrain has a sliding rear seat for more cargo space if needed. The Escape doesnt do that. My Terrain comes standard with a touch screen radio and the trim I have has Intellilink and remote starter and heated seats. Remote start is a dealer installed option for all Ford vehicles, and their myFord touch is garbage. My insurance is also cheaper because my Terrain has onstar (Fords 911 is NOT EVEN CLOSE to what Onstar is no matter how much they say it is since Onstar has nothign to do with your cell phone) and more standard airbags.

    If you buy a Ford the only thing you are doing is paying more for less features than a GM and getting a vehicle with lower quality. How many times since its introduction has the Escape been recalled? 5 or 6?

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