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best of the lot

2013 Ford Escape

Gentlemen: We're due to purchase (or lease) a new vehicle, and own a Volvo V50. We're looking to get an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive to manage a steep hill at our cottage, especially in the winter months. Otherwise, our driving is all downtown – so no major mileage. However, optics are important, so no to the Mercs you rave about, and the Range Rover, too. I'd like something that doesn't have a huge carbon footprint and have been considering the following: Ford Escape, VW Tiguan, Subaru Forester – or the upcoming Volvo V60. Thoughts, or other ideas? – JG

Vaughan: "Optics are important." See, Cato, cars are all about image.

You are what you drive.

Cato: That makes you a 13-year-old VW oil burner.

That said, you, Vaughan, are ahead of the curve here. That is, I believe we going to see a rejection of conspicuous over-consumption and wastefulness, especially among the generation of young people just now hitting their 20s, or about to. You waste nothing and hold on to almost everything forever.

For JG and others, greed is not good. Gordon Gekko's ilk are destructive and selfish.

Mark my words, by the end of this decade, we're going to see young people rise up and reject old norms much like we saw in the mid-1960s. They will protest in clothes such as you wear right now!

Vaughan: Social pressures? Is that why JG rejects Mercs and Range Rovers?

Cato: Look, several car companies are on to this. Bill Ford, the chairman of Ford Motor, is a Sierra Club member and Ford has been putting out an annual sustainability report for years. Others do, too.

The result: Toyota, Ford and Honda are the world's three greenest brands, according to the study by market consulting firm Interbrand. Nissan is No. 5, Volkswagen No. 7. You surprised that the Ford Escape is atop JG's shopping list?

Vaughan: The Ford Escape would fit JG's needs in terms of both optics and functionality. The Titanium model with all-wheel-drive lists for $37,499 and is as regally equipped as a Range Rover. JG won't need to sacrifice luxury features for optics and fuel economy.

I like the Escape. It comes with a 231-horsepower. 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine – that means turbocharging and direct injection which gives plenty of power and good fuel economy as long as you don't floor it all the time. Drive irresponsibly and the little turbo gets thirsty.

Cato: The Escape with the 1.6-litre four-banger, another EcoBoost engine, would be a better option. Better fuel economy, but still strong at 173 hp and nicely equipped with all-wheel-drive for $29,099.

Vaughan: If it's "optics" JG wants, the Escape can be had with active grille shutters that make the vehicle more aerodynamic. Plus JG can brag about the eco-friendly seat foam partially made of soybeans and the carpets produced in part from recycled plastic bottles.

Cato: And feel good, also, about taking advantage of Ford of Canada's latest Employee Pricing extravaganza. That will be worth a couple of grand in discounts.

Vaughan: Next up on the list is the VW TEE-gwan, some weird combination of the German words for tiger and iguana.

Cato: Tiguan. Tiguan.

Vaughan: This one is the compact crossover built on the platform of the ubiquitous VW Golf. And, yes, AWD is available. If you like the way the Golf drives and you like the functional, top-quality interior of the Golf, you'll like the TEE-gwan. Lots of power in the direct-injection four-cylinder, but they've had trouble moving them off the lots because of the price.

Cato: Hang on. JG can get a Tiguan with AWD for $28,940 minus discounts.

Vaughan: VW keeps trying to move the Golf and its derivatives up-market, making the Jetta the entry-level VeeDub. But as you say, Cato, we're suddenly seeing discounts on the tiger-iguana.

Cato: Frankly, I'd wait for the Tiguan diesel. Better fuel economy and that matters to JG.

Vaughan: Okay, let's wrap this up with the Subaru Forester.

It's been reinvented for 2014 and a well-equipped entry model starts at $25,995. Reliable, durable, safe and all Subies hold their value.

The Subie might be right up JG's alley because it's the poor man's BMW. The 2014 has been completely redesigned and delivers better fuel economy than the previous one. You have a choice of two boxer engines along with Subie's excellent all-wheel-drive system.

Subarus last forever, too. As for boosting your green cred, you can tell your friends that Subaru built the first car plant in North America that takes zero to the dump – absolutely everything recycled.

Cato: The Escape is just the ticket for JG – stylish, potentially fuel-efficient, loaded with technology, excellent driving manners.…

Vaughan: Escape's too flashy. JG's "optics" put him in the Subaru.


2013 Ford Escape SE 4X42013 Volkswagen Tiguan 4MOTION2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i Touring Package

Wheelbase (mm)


Length (mm)


Width (mm)


Height (mm)



1.6-litre four-cylinder, turbocharged2.0-litre four-cylinder, turbocharged2.5-litre four-cylinder

Output (horsepower/torque)

173/184 lb-ft200/207 lb-ft170/174 lb-ft

Drive system

All-wheel driveAll-wheel driveAll-wheel drive


Six-speed automaticSix-speed automaticSix-speed manual

Curb Weight (kg)


Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

9.2 city/6.6 highway10.2 city/7.8 highway9.5 city/7.0 highway

Base price (MSRP)


Source: car manufacturers

Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which appears Fridays at 8 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV

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