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 |  Apr 16 2012, 4:15 PM

The Ford Escape saw a major overhaul for the 2013 model year, ditching its traditional SUV styling for something more in line with the European Kuga offering.

As part of the American automaker’s ‘One Ford’ plan of ensuring North American models are nearly identical to its European counterparts, the changes to the 2013 Ford Escape are being welcomed with open arms.

Ford announced that it has almost 8,000 orders for its new Escape that will be hitting showrooms late next month with a starting price of $23,295, about $200 cheaper than its predecessor. But the base model isn’t even what the consumers are interested in. Half the orders for the new Ford Escape are for the higher trim levels: the new Titanium and the SEL which starts at $28,695. That falls in line with our recent report that average new car sales reached an all-time high of $30,748.

Powered by either a 1.6- or 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, the Escape combines performance (thanks to a turbocharger) with fuel efficiency. The previous 2.5L four-cylinder is also being carried over, but it’s expected that most buyers will opt for the new EcoBoost offerings.

GALLERY: 2013 Ford Escape

02-2013-ford-escape03-2013-ford-escape04-2013-ford-escape06-2013-ford-escape09-2013-ford-escape11-2013-ford-escape

[Source: Detroit Free Press]