The 49th annual Carl Casper Custom Car Show  continues Saturday and Sunday out at Louisville’s Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center, and Friday’s biggest attraction was certainly the unveiling of the 2013 Ford Escape; a redesigned version of the best selling Sport Utility Vehicle in America.
Louisville’s Mayor Greg Fischer and Third District Congressman John Yarmuth were on hand for the presentation, since the Escape is manufactured right here in Derby City at Ford’s massive Louisville Assembly Plant on Fern Valley Road, where full production of the new Escape begins next month. Anticipating sales in excess of the 254,000 Escapes sold last year, Ford predicts that almost 4,200 Louisville workers will be involved in the production of the SUV.
Ford has yet to release precise mileage figures for the 2013 Escape, but sources are suggesting that it will get 33 miles to the gallon on the highway; about five miles to the gallon better than the current Escape. With a starting sticker price of $23,295, the SUV will come with a host of technologies typically found in more high-end models.
Environmentalists who may be a bit reluctant to purchase a vehicle with an internal combustion engine should rest assured that the 2013 Escape has an eco-friendly side. For example, there are two available EcoBoost engines that provide more power per every drop of fuel. Seat cushion and head restraint foam is derived from soy plant seeds, and the carpet in all the models is produced using post-industrial fibers derived from recycled plastic bottles. Even the shape of the Escape and the use of the active grille shutters helps make the vehicle more aerodynamic.
Using a modified version of the Ford Focus platform, the 2013 Ford Escape will come equipped with a selection from three different four-cylinder gasoline engines (there is no indication that a hybrid Escape will be offered for 2013). The 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder is projected to deliver 173 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, while the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder is projected to deliver 237 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. These will be accompanied by a six-speed automatic transmission with a SelectShift feature offering pseudo-manual control of the gear shifts.
New this year, is an available hands-free power liftgate; along with the latest version of MyFord Touch, a parking assistant and blind spot monitor. Just press a button, and your Escape will detect an open parallel parking spot and then automatically maneuver the vehicle into that space; all you have to do is control the gas and brake pedals. (NOTE: Your author is intentionally making no mention here of his wife and her parallel parking abilities.)
The hands-free power liftgate feature allows a user to wave his foot under the rear bumper to unlock and open or close it. Ford says the hands-free liftgate technology uses two sensors integrated into the Intelligent Access system, located in the rear bumper.
Right about now, you’re probably asking, “How do it know?” What’s to prevent some stranger from waiving his foot under your rear bumper and stealing your groceries?
Well, not to worry. The clever folks at Ford have designed a system that detects the key fob on a user in addition to the shin and leg motion, which prevents the liftgate from accidentally opening. This is part of what Ford calls its “Intelligent Access,” system, which also allows customers to unlock and start their vehicles without ever having to take out the key. When the key fob is in their possession – kept in a pocket, coat, purse or briefcase – a simple pull on the door handle unlocks the vehicle. Once inside, the driver simply holds down the brake pedal and presses the power button to start the vehicle.
Also fitted is an intelligent all-wheel drive system, which can add and subtract torque as needed through an electromagnetic clutch, and new curve control technology that can help slow down a vehicle if it enters a corner too fast. The new Escape also comes with an enhanced Personal Safety System, with new safety belt technologies (the inflatable seat belt) and seven airbags.
The 2013 Escape’s cargo  capacity—68.1 cubic-feet of space behind the first row and 34.3 cubic-feet behind the second row—is a bit larger than last year’s, and its towing capacity is up to 3,500 pounds. Also new this year, is a fantastic palette of exterior colors; including Ginger Ale, Ruby Red, White Platinum Tricoat, Frosted Glass Metallic, Deep Impact Blue, and Kodiak Brown, along with Tuxedo Black, Sterling Gray Metallic, Ingot Silver Metallic, and Oxford White.
The Carl Casper Custom Car Show—“The greatest combined custom and new car auto show on the planet”—continues at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center this weekend:
- Saturday, February 25, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Sunday, February 26, Noon to 6 p.m.
Tickets at the door:
- Adults $15.00
- Children (6-12) $5.00
- Children (5 & Under) FREE
Kentucky Exposition Center parking is $8 per vehicle per entry
Learn more: Carl Casper's web site 
Ford website: Build your own Ford Escape HERE 
FULL DISCLOSURE: We built our dream Ford Escape on the Ford website, and below are the specifications, just in case anybody out at the Louisville Assembly Plant is worried about what to get us for our birthday this year.
Ford Escape video:
Louisville.com 's The Arena section features opinions from active participants in the city's politics. Their viewpoints are not those of Louisville.com (a website is an inanimate object and, as such, has no opinions). The Arena is read by more people in Louisville than in any other city in America. Photo credits: Ford Motor Company, Carl Casper, PhotoShop, WDRB.