Ford's 2014 Escape Is Changing Consumer Attitudes


Ford's 2014 Escape. Photo Credit: Ford Motor.

Americans have long had a love affair with big, road-hogging, gas-guzzling SUVs, and some still do. However, nowadays, it's more unusual to see a big SUV as more consumers are opting for the smaller crossover and utility vehicles, such as Ford's (NYSE: F  ) 2014 Escape. Its modern and aggressive styling in combination with its EcoBoost engine providing 22 MPG in the city and 33 highway has been a huge hit with consumers, sending sales through the roof.


Graph via author. Information via Automotive News DataCenter.
*2013 projected from sales through July.

The Escape is changing consumer attitudes about small utilities, and its sales are proof. The Escape is the first-ever small utility to break the 150,000 vehicle sales mark through the first six months of the year, according to Ford. In fact, that pace will allow it to top over 300,000 sales for the year, which hasn't been done by any other Ford vehicle, aside from the F-Series, in more than nine years.

"The Ford Escape's great performance, standout design, and outstanding fuel economy are bringing new buyers into the showroom," said Amy Marentic, group marketing manager of global cars and crossovers, in a Ford press release. "It's great to see Escape break new ground, which shows we are listening to customers and delivering competitive global vehicles."

Sales of the Escape are up 20% through July, ranking it in the top 10 best-selling vehicles in across the U.S. market. It's managed to outsell the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 through the first half of the year. Digging further into the story, its CR-V and RAV4 rivals typically dominate sales on the coastal cities, but the Escape has witnessed its retail registrations increase 33% on the coasts -- three times more than the segment itself.

Why the hype?
For the new model year, the Escape has a few technology additions and remains a safe and agile ride, which has resonated well with consumers. The Escape now offers a backup camera and SYNC infotainment system on all trim levels. Its premium trim price, the Titanium, has been lowered to help offset all the premium options that can make it a bit pricey -- although consumers don't seem to mind paying.

As for the agile ride mentioned, its engineered torque converter and revised gear ratios give it a more balanced feel during all driving situations. In addition to the smooth ride and new tech features, another selling point is its safety features, which include a Blind Spot Information system that displays an alert in the mirror if a vehicle is detected in the Escape's blind spot. That's just the tip of the iceberg with the new Escape, but it's been very well received by critics and consumers alike.

Investing takeaway
What's even better than increasing sales and revenues from the Escape is that top trade-ins for the Escape are from Honda and Toyota owners, helping Ford regain lost market share from its Japanese rivals. The Escape sales are also taking off in one of China's hottest segments: smaller crossover vehicles. Ford figures that will help reach its goal of doubling its market share in China to 6% by 2015, a goal well on its way, as Ford has improved to 4.3% in the second quarter.

Crossovers aren't as profitable as full-size pickups, but they are more profitable than regular passenger vehicles, and with premium options that many consumers pay for, they can become very profitable quickly as transaction prices rise.

The Escape is also part of Ford's branding push, and it's changing consumer attitudes for the better about fuel-efficient crossovers. It's also part of Ford's push in what it calls the "super segment," which will represent fast-growing segments and the best way to gain share in the U.S. market. Ford's Fusion, Focus, Escape, and Fiesta represent vehicles positioned in each of the four hottest segments.

One thing most investors forget is that Ford will take what it learns from the Escape and translate that into a very profitable luxury Lincoln vehicle in the near future. Lincoln's revival will bring incremental sales and revenues as those vehicles don't directly compete with its Blue Oval vehicles. Ford will continue to increase its share price as vehicles like the Escape sell well overseas, but it would be a huge positive catalyst if its Lincoln line surges in sales. One thing is for sure: Ford has much growth remaining, and its momentum is building after a strong two quarters into 2013. It remains a solid investing option during the automotive industry's rebound.

Ford is definitely a solid investing option, and the best investing approach is to choose great companies and stick with them for the long term. The Motley Fool's free report "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich" names stocks that could help you build long-term wealth and retire well, along with some winning wealth-building strategies that every investor should be aware of. Click here now to keep reading.


Read/Post Comments (17) | Recommend This Article (12)

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 August 11, 2013, at 11:09 AM, summeraz wrote:

    I have a 2009 Ford Escape & love it! It's the perfect size (not too small, not too big) & I'm getting 25mph in town.

  • Report this Comment On August 11, 2013, at 11:20 AM, emjayay wrote:

    That's nice, summeraz.

    Of course, the 2009 Escape is a completely different vehicle than the 2013 Escape, which first appeared at the Kuga in Europe.

  • Report this Comment On August 11, 2013, at 11:26 AM, Jason87467 wrote:

    I'll take a Chevy over a Ford any day. Ford brags and exaggerates a lot and I do not trust what Ford says about their vehicles..

  • Report this Comment On August 11, 2013, at 1:16 PM, morg777 wrote:

    @ Jason87467, Chevy has never ever bragged on or exaggerated about any of their vehicles. Really?! What a ridiculous statement. If you don't like Ford, that's cool, but Chevy has certainly had its share of inflated claims.

  • Report this Comment On August 11, 2013, at 1:41 PM, casper489 wrote:

    I tried to deal on an Escape at our local Ford dealers, three different dealers in fact. None wanted to deal at all, pretty much take it or leave it, so I did. Then I went to my local Chevy dealer and dealt on an Equinox and love every minute driving it. I get just under 30 miles per gallon around town and much better on the highway.

    We always drove Fords, even our parents did till the day they died but when they don't want to talk to you it is time to move on. For me it is where I can get the best deal since I am alone and have to live on a fixed income.

  • Report this Comment On August 11, 2013, at 1:47 PM, JudyR50 wrote:

    I was never a fan of Ford except for the Mustangs from the mid to late 60's. But in April my friend and I decided to drive from Texas to California and back. Just an old fashion road trip with lots of stops along the way. We rented the Ford Escape, 2013 edition and the vehicle really made the trip. We both fell in love with the Escape. Easy to handle, comfortable with lots of leg room and plenty of space for our luggage. We actually added a few extra days because we never felt tired after spending hours on the road. Great vehicle Ford. You've changed my mind.

  • Report this Comment On August 11, 2013, at 3:38 PM, Gb191 wrote:

    Bought a 2013 escape and it was recalled within the first week... 6 months later recalled again.. Was so feed up with the poor gas mileage.. Less than 17 per mile that I filed for lemon law status and was thrilled ford bought it back...

    My opinion: looks great crap car

  • Report this Comment On August 11, 2013, at 6:40 PM, glt6208 wrote:

    Your recent stories seem to be thinly disguised Ford Ads or part of a "pump and dump" scheme. Which is it?

  • Report this Comment On August 11, 2013, at 7:33 PM, neamakri wrote:

    just a note to the author. HYPE = High Pressure (sales). I did not see any evidence of high pressure sales in the article.

    a typical high pressure (HYPE) tactic is to make you hurry up to make a decision so you don't think too long about it. Example; this sale ends today!

  • Report this Comment On August 11, 2013, at 8:14 PM, 2fools4nun wrote:

    I have one, it's my second, The first one was great and this one is even better

  • Report this Comment On August 11, 2013, at 9:45 PM, otto12345 wrote:

    Don't buy a ford escape.

    I have an older ford escape, air bag light on, ford cant fix, don know what is wrong with it,

    bad transmissions, fix 4K

    Catalytic converters gone bad, cost replacement 3K

    Back door wont open, no key, only electronic, fix 1k

    Worst car they ever made.

    Now can sell for 3k

    Thank you Ford, will never buy another ford.

  • Report this Comment On August 12, 2013, at 1:31 AM, bigd2337 wrote:

    I don't understand all the bad comments about ford. I have owned alot of fords and they have been very good to me. I had a 1999 ford mustang 226,000 miles on it no problems no service engine light and ran perfect. I now own a 2013 F-150, 2013 Ford Focus, and a 2013 Ford Escape. I have had zero problems with them all. On the other hand the worst vehicle I ever had was the first Chevrolet and last GM product ill ever buy which was a 2007 Chevy Silverado 5.3L 1500. Engine trouble, front differential, power steering, and brakes all in 27,000 miles. And I am religious about maintenance, oil changes every 3,000. Transmission fluid and antifreeze every 30,000. Even though I changed the oil every 3,000 miles in that silverado I still had a lifter lose hydraulic pressure and have to be replaced which they wanted me to pay for even though it was under warranty. So I called GM Customer service and they sided with the dealership. I will never buy a piece of crap government motors as long as I live.

  • Report this Comment On August 12, 2013, at 7:47 AM, MadeInGa4u wrote:

    Hey Motley Fool, you should pull your head out of Ford's Butt. You are winning no fans here being loyal to Ford and praising them as they were GOD. Its just a Ford Escape, don't blow your wad all in one article.

  • Report this Comment On August 12, 2013, at 10:58 AM, BigDennisC wrote:

    I agree quit sniffing Fords butt. Take the sales of the Equinox and Terrain, add them together then talk about sale. Fact is when you take the Sierra/Silverado and add them together GM outsells Ford in the truck market. When you add the Terrain/Equinox GM outsells Ford in the small utility market.

    You talk about the great gas in the Escape claiming 33 mpg but I have yet to see one in a dealer lot that says 33 mpg highway. Not to mention its a small terd of a vehicle. The Equinox/Terrain has more legroom all around, comes with more standard features, has more cargo room, and adds a rear sat that slides. Have you tried to fold the rear seat down on an Escape? Pull the bottom rear seat pad out (which can slide out in a rear impact accident) fold it behind the drivers seat (if the driver is tall and has the seat back this wont even work) then pull the lever to fold the seat flat but like I said if the driver is tall the rear seat wont fold down. The Terrain/Equinox you pull a lever and its down. THe rear seats also recline. Not on an escape.

    Oh for 2014 they added a backup Camera. ABOUT TIME FORD!!!! The backup camera has been standard on the GMC Terrain basic trim since 2013 but from 2 through 4th trims its been standard snce 2011. Ford vehicles cost less because Ford is soo behind the times in what they offer and put on their vehicles. Remote starter isnt standard on Ford vehicles. No daytime running lights.

    Does the Escape have triple door seals and double laminated glass like the Terrain/Equinox for a quiet cabin? NOPE! In fact Ford uses the thinest glass in the industry for cost savings. Terrain/Equinox also has more airbags. SO in the end you get more with the GM vehicle and you will also save money on insurance costs.

    Oh yeah and did I mention my 4 cylinder Terrain thats rated at 21 city 32 highway is AVERAGING over 30 mpg city and highway? I have the gas receipts to prove it not just a guess puld from my butt like most people making claims about their gas mileage do. Those onboard computers are wrong too so if you claim youre getting 33 because your onboard computer says so you cannot be sure of that.

  • Report this Comment On August 12, 2013, at 1:06 PM, jugcity wrote:

    I can honestly comment about one of the older Escapes that I own. Not sure that is relevant since the latest model is a complete redesign.

    I owned a 2003 Limited that I sold with 129,000 miles. It still looked great and was sold in excellent condition to the first buyer who looked at and test drove it. I got more than I had expected on the sale! All that I ever had to do was routine maintenance such as brakes, oil, misc front end parts, various filters...never a break down. The vehicle traveled the mountains of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York in hot summers and very cold winters. If you don't know how or find the wrong people to maintain a vehicle it will result in problems.

  • Report this Comment On August 12, 2013, at 1:09 PM, jugcity wrote:

    I can honestly comment about one of the older Escapes that I own. Not sure that is relevant since the latest model is a complete redesign.

    I owned a 2003 Limited that I sold with 129,000 miles. It still looked great and was sold in excellent condition to the first buyer who looked at and test drove it. I got more than I had expected on the sale! All that I ever had to do was routine maintenance such as brakes, oil, misc front end parts, various filters...never a break down. The vehicle traveled the mountains of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York in hot summers and very cold winters. If you don't know how or find the right people to maintain a vehicle it will result in problems.

  • Report this Comment On August 12, 2013, at 1:11 PM, jugcity wrote:

    I can honestly comment about one of the older Escapes that I own. Not sure that is relevant since the latest model is a complete redesign.

    I owned a 2003 Limited that I sold with 129,000 miles. It still looked great and was sold in excellent condition to the first buyer who looked at and test drove it. I got more than I had expected on the sale! All that I ever had to do was routine maintenance such as brakes, oil, misc front end parts, various filters...never a break down. The vehicle traveled the mountains of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York in hot summers and very cold winters. If you don't know how or find the right people to maintain a vehicle it will result in problems.

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