A blue 2024 Ford Escape Platinum is shown parked near a garden.

How the Ford Escape Made Its Way Onto the Small Screen

From Herbie the Lovebug’s 1963 VW Bug to KITT, a 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am with sass, Tinseltown has no shortage of famous automobiles. Used as everything from the main protagonist to an explosive background casualty, all kinds of makes and models have made an appearance on the big and small screen. But did you know that one vehicle actually had its own reality show? That vehicle was the sporty Ford Escape.

That’s right, not just one, but two past Ford Escape models have ended up front and center, stealing the limelight from their human counterparts. SUVs are quite rarely deemed lead character material but are often extras used for their rugged and flexible attributes. This distinct SUV personality is what made the Ford Escape such an excellent candidate for its very own reality show. Even with the 2024 Ford Escape now rolling out onto the market, we’re sure this standout SUV will have more roles in its future.

Escape Routes

It was a mere 10 years ago that the Ford Escape was first thrust into the harsh lights of reality TV. Of course, as the main star of the show, it is assumed that the Escape was treated more like royalty than the human contestants, who were there more as marketing tools than anything else. The show was appropriately named “Escape Routes” and it was a rather ingenious marketing ploy thought up by Ford. Using a competition-style reality show setting, Ford threw together a show reminiscent of Gumball Alley or Cannonball Run, but only with paid participants, not paid actors.

In the show, contestants embarked on a series of challenges that led them across different cities and states. The challenges were designed to provide interesting television, but also with the ulterior motive to show off the features of the Escape. Features like the navigation system, the hands-free tailgate, and the sound system were worked into the show as naturally as possible, resulting in what Ford hoped would be a hit marketing campaign. Unfortunately for those of us who would love to see the show ourselves, it lasted for six episodes and seems nearly impossible to stream online.

In the end, two contestants walked away with $100,000 in cash and a brand-new 2013 Ford Escape for each of them. That seems like a pretty sweet deal, especially considering what the Escape is like today. The 2024 Ford Escape is just as sleek as it was 10 years ago, but with today’s advancements. The hands-free tailgate, unfortunately, is gone, but a power liftgate with a push button has taken its place.

The Escape is now equipped with an available 360-Degree Camera with a split screen and bird’s eye view, a feature I am sure would fit perfectly into a rebooted competition reality show – hint, hint. Of course, I might be a tad late since another competition show featuring the Ford Escape hit the air about 5-years after “Escape Routes.” The show was titled “The Runner” and once again placed the Escape in front of the camera, showing off its many noteworthy attributes.

A sunroof is shown from the interior of a 2024 Ford Escape Platinum.

The Runner

“The Runner” was a thrill-driven reality show dreamed up by… Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Yep, you read that right. Two of Hollywood’s biggest stars were the masterminds behind “The Runner,” which unfortunately only lasted one season. The premise centered around one individual who was being hotly pursued by five teams who were desperate to catch him in hopes of winning a massive amount of cash.

Are you wondering where the Ford Escape comes into play here? Ya, I was starting to wonder the same thing. Well, it turns out that Ford Motor Company teamed up with Verizon’s Go90 in a dual plan of television marketing domination. Unfortunately, much like “Escape Routes,” this also seems difficult to track down online to watch. There is, however, a nifty trailer with what sounds like Mr. Movie Phone’s voice narrating.

What the trailer does seem to be lacking, however, is any mention or glimpse of the Ford Escape. Ford was supposedly a title sponsor of the show, using its position to once again place the Escape into strategic challenges designed to show off the Escape’s features. According to Ford’s media website, the Escape was to play an integral part in helping the contestants along the way. Features like Ford’s SYNC 3 program were meant to be a highlight.

Approximately 8-years have passed since the 2017 Escape hit the telly, and we find ourselves now onto SYNC 4. If the intention was to show off the Escape’s impressive technology, then the 2024 Escape would be right at home. SYNC 4 is now gracing an expansive 13.2” LCD touchscreen, which looks quite nice inside the Escape’s modern interior.

Ford’s brand manager for the Escape at the time stated that the Escape had an adventurous, unstoppable spirit that fit the concept of the competition-style show. Looking at today’s Escape, I can see why she thought that. The 2024 Escape has obviously received some updates over the last near-decade, and one of those updates includes a new chiseled exterior. Perhaps its time on television left the Escape ready to hit the gym, because the latest Escape is sleek, sporty and powerful looking.

The 2017 Escape was no slouch, but the 2024 definitely seems ready for a spotlight appearance on the next episode of “The Runner,” and honestly, I would be excited for that. The show sent the runner across the states, forcing the chase teams to follow. The idea of heading cross-country makes sense from a marketing standpoint, showcasing the Escape’s fuel efficiency. This is another thing today’s Escape has going for it.

The Start-Stop fuel-saving technology that stood out in the 2017 model is still there in 2024, only improved and perfected with time. The 2024 model also features the EcoBoost engine, an incredible creation that combines power and efficiency for the ultimate experience. The fuel efficiency of the Escape has been a focal point for some time now, even probing another media stunt involving Coca-Cola and yet another cross-country voyage. Not quite a reality show, the Coca-Cola Journey is just another feather in the Escape’s hat.

A black 2024 Ford Escape is shown driving.

A Star on the Screen and on the Road

There are plenty of creative and innovative media ploys and marketing strategies out there, but are any quite as impressive as those dreamt up for the Ford Escape? Creativity aside, it is clear that Ford spent plenty of time and energy promoting the Escape in the last decade or so. How many SUVs can say that they were given their own reality show? I can see why it has been celebrated on the small screen. The Escape is an amalgamation of car and SUV, offering a spirited driving experience, easy maneuvering, and impressive fuel efficiency without sacrificing cargo space, spacious seating, and capability. I don’t know if I have just been star-struck from learning of the Escape’s celebrity status or if I, too, am seeing the many sides that make up the complex Escape, but I can see the appeal.

From its time in the spotlight to its time on the showroom floor, the Escape was designed to turn heads and garner troves of SUV enthusiasts to its side. Ford has done a bang-up job with the Escape and an even more impressive job with their unique and clever marketing strategies. The question now is, what show will the Escape star in next?