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Ford Escape Launch-1

I was invited to spend an entire day out with Ford Canada, on the last stop of their 2013 Escape SUV launch tour yesterday. The gorgeous stretch of late summer weather added to the fun-filled day.

We set out in teams of two in sparkly new Ford Escape 2013’s to experience its road handling, convenience features, and state-of-the-art technology.

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Starting at the Delta Burnaby Hotel, we were greeted by the Ford media team, and given an introduction to the day’s activities as well as an ample hot lunch spread.

Little did I know that one in six customers purchase an SUV, and that Ford’s Escape happens to be ranked #1 in Canada for eight years running.

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Savvy consumers look for practical features as well as safety and fuel efficiency. This one offers some pretty amazing cargo space and the 2013 model has been totally redesigned from the ground up with a larger interior, better fuel efficiency, a new overdrive system and several components made of recycled material.

For example, 25% percent of the carpeting is made of reused plastic bottles, taking millions of bottles out of landfill each year. Soybeans are used in the seat and headrests. Ford strives to find better ways to build their cars smarter.

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We first drove to Coquitlam Centre to test our skills and play at the Escape Cargo Challenge tents, create an action video, try hands-free parking as well as socialize over snacks and coffee.

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This was also the spot where we tested the Escape’s hands-free lift gate feature. With a simple kicking motion gesture, the system is activated and pop goes the back gate!

The car’s programmed to recognize leg motions only (and is customizable to individual needs), so as to avoid accidental opening of the gate by way of a bump on the road or an animal passing by! This technology builds onto Ford’s Intelligent Access push-button start.

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Interesting to note that Ford is the first to use gesture-based technology in this spunky, durable SUV. So no fumbling for keys once you’re in the Escape.

And rainy jaunts from the market or IKEA to your Escape will be a little sweeter.

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The fun came at our next stop: the British Columbia Driving Centre in Pitt Meadows. Channeling our inner race demons, we took turns at the wheel to put the Escape through its paces.

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Hard turns, crashing halt brake stops, last-minute turn decisions, speedy lane change maneuvers, and a slalom finale. I’m proud to report that this SUV made the cut!

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This was a rare chance to let go and think fast! Once we’d had our fill of the course, we travelled to our next stop, Belcarra Regional Park, Port Moody, for a little canoe trip along the shimmery waters of Indian Arm.

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On our journey leading to our canoe adventure, my teammate Danica spotted two deer alongside the road. I grabbed my iPhone just in time to snap one of them before they fled into nearby bushes.

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Our Takaya Tour guides gave us a traditional Tsleil-Waututh greeting and brief safety lesson before we split into two groups and made our way to the dock. I’d taken this tour last May (at Cates Park) and loved it all over again, even though we had much less time on the water this time around (we were running a bit behind schedule).

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Any day on a boat is a good day, made even better when shared with newly-made friends and beautiful weather. Each of the 25-foot canoes can accommodate 12 people.

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Once into the water, our guides began to share stories of their tribe and of the area’s history. On a few occasions, they would break into song or simply sing along while hitting a traditional drum.

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[Old tech meets new: Attaching a GoPro HD video camera to a wooden canoe paddle]

This part of the tour was by far the most relaxing and gave us an appetite to head further to our final stop on the tour: dinner at Ebo Restaurant back at the Delta Hotel. If you haven’t had the chance to sample Chef Daniel Craig’s award-winning West coast cuisine, I highly recommend it. I’ve sampled dishes here on several occasions, including their Sunday brunch.

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After a round of tasty appetizers, we were treated to an open buffet, as well as to those scrumptious handmade rotis prepared on the spot by Chef John Chang.

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A video was compiled from hours of footage taken during the day, and played back at dinner for the group’s enjoyment. Speaking of video, here’s my virtual skydiving experience from Coquitlam Centre.

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The 2013 Ford Escape starts at $21,499 CDN for a base S FWD model, up to the Titanium A WD, priced at $37,499 CDN. A huge thank you to Ford Canada for organizing such a well-thought out event! It truly made for a fabulous escape.

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