WDRB takes an exclusive ride through southern California in the - WDRB 41 Louisville News

WDRB takes an exclusive ride through southern California in the new Ford Escape

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WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. (WDRB) -- You may be wondering why we came all the way out to southern California to test out the new Ford Escape. 

After all, they are made in Louisville. 

But Ford officials said the decision had a lot to do with the roads.

“This area provides us some really unique drive surfaces, some really unique changes in elevation that allow us to put the Escape's best features, some of the things we’re most proud of, really to test,” said Chris Mazur, the Escape Program Manager.

As the company's best-selling sports utility vehicle, Ford sold more than 300,000 Escapes in 2015, a record for the SUV.  We're told the new model reaches greater heights.

“Every Escape is going to have a new look from the inside out, through its appearance, down to its wheels and everything in between,” said Kevin Schad, the Escape Marketing Manager.

Taking it out for a spin in Malibu traffic, there was something that quickly caught Business Reporter Samantha Chatman off guard. When sitting at a red light, the car turned off on its own.

It wasn't a malfunction, though. It’s an actual feature called auto Start-Stop Technology, which turns the vehicle off to save gas during idle time. Americans waste about 3.8 million gallons of fuel each day by just sitting in traffic.

"Kind of the equivalent of turning light off when you leave the room. Why leave the lights on when you leave the room? You turn them off. Why run the engine when you don’t need to?” Mazur explained.

It's technology that's said to make your life a lot easier.

The Sync 3 lets you operate your car through an app.

“They'll be able to do things like remote start, remote lock, unlock. They also have a vehicle locator feature on there. And they go do those from virtually anywhere in the world,” Schad said.

And then there are new safety features like the lane assist.

It helps guide drivers through hectic situations on the road.

“The reason I love the feature, I have two small kids and when I’m leaning back to talk to them and get them to stop arguing, there’s feedback and support to keep you in the lane," said Mazur.

Ford has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in its Louisville Assembly Plant, where Escapes are made -- but it's not the only automaker seeing a huge comeback in SUVs.

Last year, more than 5 million SUVs were sold, and by 2020, SUVs are expected to make up nearly 40 percent of vehicles worldwide.

Ford officials said there are two demographics in particular that can't seem to get enough of the Escape: Millennials and Baby Boomers.

“It's really a unique situation: The Baby Boomers are the parents of the Millennials and they’re migrating to the same vehicle,” Mazur explained. “So whether it is a car seat that they’re putting in the back of the vehicle, or something for the Baby Boomer’s dog, it offers that flexibility for both."

Ford customers were very vocal about what they wanted to see in the new Escape. 

More space was a big one. Ford engineers relocated the gearshift to gain more room in the front, which created more device storage space, a longer armrest and improved cup holders.

Believe it or not, the team spent hours making sure they got the cup holders just right.

"It's one of those pieces of a car that the driver engages quite often and they want the equation to deliver on that,” said Schad.

The outside includes an aluminum hood, a bold grill, three new colors and redesigned headlights.

“Our customers can select this vehicle and be very confident about the vehicle purchase that they’ve made,” Schad said.

The 2017 Ford Escape hits showrooms next month.

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