Bottom line: The 2013 Ford Escape is a genuinely competitive entry in the class for compact crossover-utility vehicles. It gets a strong “buy” rating here.

Ride, handling, acceleration: It gets excellent marks in all three. But it is a wagon/crossover utility. You can’t take this one to the races, real or imaginary.

Head-turning quotient: Super-slick. I’d argue that it is the most attractive vehicle in its class.

Body style/layout: The 2013 Ford Escape is a front-engine, compact wagon/crossover-utility vehicle sold with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. It is based on a modified Ford Focus platform and is available in four trim levels—base S and SE, popularly equipped SEL, and upscale Titanium.

Engine and transmission: The Titanium comes with a turbocharged 2-liter, 16-valve, double-overhead-cam, 16-valve, in-line four-cylinder, gasoline engine with variable valve timing (231 horsepower, 270 foot-pounds of torque). The engine is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission that can also be shifted manually.

Capacities: Seats five people. Cargo capacity is 34.3 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 68.1 cubic feet with those seats down. The fuel tank holds 15.1 gallons of gasoline. Regular grade can be used, but premium is recommended for best performance.

Real-world mileage using premium: I averaged 31 miles per gallon with a load (two large floor heaters) in mostly highway driving.

Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear); four-wheel anti-lock brake protection; electronic brake-force distribution; electronic stability and traction control; side and head air bags; and xenon high-intensity-discharge headlamps with a cornering feature.

Price: The 2013 Escape Titanium with front-wheel drive starts at $30,370. Dealer’s invoice price on that model is $28,321. Price as tested is $32,985, including $1,790 in options (onboard navigation and a parking proximity warning system) and an $825 destination fee. Dealer’s price as tested is $30,708.