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Best 2013 Vehicles for the Money

Best 2013 Compact SUV for the Money: Ford Escape

Average U.S. price: $22,592

Another model Ford redesigned completely for 2013, the Escape scores an 8.6 on U.S. News' scale -- with good reviews and crash-test results overcoming so-so predicted reliability.

"Reviewers just like how practical the Escape is," Page Deaton says, noting that the model has lots of great features for busy families.

She particularly likes the Escape's optional new "kick-activated" tailgate, which opens automatically when a user sweeps a foot under the rear bumper. "Something like that is incredibly helpful when your arms are full of grocery bags or stuff like that," Page Deaton says.

The Ford also gets a top IIHS crash-test rating and four out of five stars on NHTSA's crash tests, while most front-wheel-drive Escapes get a decent 22 mpg/city and 31 mpg/highway.

That said, the sport utility vehicle only gets 2.5 stars out of a possible five from J.D. Power, pointing toward slightly below-average predicted reliability. Some reviewers have also found the Escape's 168-horsepower base engine underwhelming and recommend drivers upgrade to one of two available turbocharged ones.
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