Does the World Need the 2013 Ford Escape's Hand-Free Liftgate?


Ford has a recent history of focusing on technology. Some of it has been successful like the first Sync multimedia system application and some a bit less so, see MyFord Touch.

The 2013 Ford Escape offers some useful high-tech features at a reasonable price; you gotta love the Active Park Assist, which helps parallel park the car, and the blind spot warning system that are both part of the $995 Technology Package, but the optional hands-free liftgate that opens with the kick of your foot might just be another one of those Ford ideas that needs a little more tweaking.


I want desperately to love this feature. I can't imagine a parent that wouldn't love the ability to magically open the liftgate without having to let go of your child's hand in a busy parking lot, dirty their hand by opening the tailgate manually or fish through their pocket or purse to find the key fob first before then pressing the remote button to open the liftgate. However, in the two interactions I've had with it, it has yet to work consistently.

My first experience with this feature was early this year at the Detroit auto show. I was trying to do a demonstration for a television segment about great new-car features for families. Luckily, it was a taped segment because it required about five takes for the liftgate to actually open and then close again when I swiped my foot under the rear bumper. I chalked that up to it being a preproduction model or having a learning curve. Is it a fast kick like a Rockette or a slow foot raise like a guy doing tai chi in the park? Is it a straight kick forward toward the car or a side-to-side swipe underneath? Clearly I just didn't have the right technique.

Ford recently set up another demonstration of the feature. Yet again, it didn't work the first time. It seemed to have improved some, though, since after that first hiccup it functioned for me the way it was intended to.


While brainstorming about this problem in the office, a coworker wished for a "bump" tailgate in which you can bump your rump (or elbow for that matter) on the liftgate and have it open. With Ford's current optional hands-free liftgate, he was a bit worried about balancing on one foot in an icy parking lot. However, I have no idea how the rump-bump liftgate would close.

According to Ford, 41% of 2013 Escape buyers are opting for this feature. Just think, Ford sold more than 250,000 Escapes in 2011 and is on pace to sell more this year. That means tens of thousands of people will be out in parking lots across the country kicking away at their Escape bumpers.

Have any of our readers purchased a new Escape with this feature or seen someone trying to use it in public? If so, is it working reliably? Is it indispensable or deplorable? Tell us in the comment section below.

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The hands free lift gate is a frivolous and often useless feature. It sounded good on paper, its not so good in practice. I've had my Escape SEL for 5 months now and I prefer to manually open and close the lift gate. The "kick" feature does not work consistently and it is much easier and quicker to just press the button on the handle or the remote to let it open than to try to perfect your kicking technique. I have yet to find a scenario where I approached the car from the rear and needed to put my foot under the bumper to open the gate.


There had been many times I've wanted to kick a Ford Escape.


Waiting for the first lawsuit from the older person with an armload of groceries(top heavy) breaking their hip when they try to balance on one leg to open the liftgate in an icy parking lot in January. I agree that this is kind of whiz bang answer to an almost nonexistent problem.


I think it is a great idea. There has been many times that I have had my hands full and this would be easier to open than to set everything down. As far as the comment about someone falling and suing Ford. I don't know how they could. Ford never forces you to use an option. Maybe they should put a disclaimer that if you lift one foot off the ground you may lose your balance and fall down.


Who needs this feature? If you're carrying something heavy, open the lift gate before your hands are full. Lighter stuff, simply put them down. A little thinking ahead goes a long way. But with that said, I have to admit that a little more thinking ahead and I would not have paid for the technology options I have on my Escape. As with a previous comment, I too want to kick my Escape on many occasions.

I just saw the TV advertisement and I think it has a pretty good design, kind of similar to the Hyundai Tucson, too much better than the old one.

Troy S.

No wonder Ford has slid so far in recent quality ratings....

We've had the 2013 Ford Escape for a couple now and the lift gate worked sporadically. Took the car to the dealer and was told the motor is defective. Now it's been 2 weeks and we're still waiting for the replacement part.

The FOB opener for the lift gate did work either.


I have a liftgate problem on my new 2013 Escape. Seems liftgate is not flush with bumper, liftgate closes but will pop open (doesn't want to latch shut) I have to push it closed. Still doing that when I am driving it sounds like air is coming in a window. I assume it is because there is not a good seal with the liftgate. Dealer hasn't been able to fix it.


I wonder how it knows that the owner is the one kicking it ... (Google search commencing)


Gaspar Villa

I also own a 2013 Ford escape, I have taken it back to the Dealer 3 times now for the same reason, the lift gate opens but does not progresses up to a full open position, I have to coax it manually to get it fully open.
Each time I took it back was a no sense excuse for this thing acting the way it does, I'am thinking they should replace the shocks or the motor, but, they want to fool around the problem first.
Very dissatisfied with product.

G. Villa


ford dissapoints me . shucks

Teresa Ohio

While some people think this is a frivolous feature, I am amongst a group who bought the Escape immediately because of it. I am an outside sales rep who often has to make deliveries or pick ups at my accounts and carry very heavy boxes for a distance (that are not easy to set down and pick back up), so this option in theory was going to make my life easier. Problem-it doesn't work the majority of the time. Took to dealer, no one else got it to work in front of me, yet after I left it for service (for a whole slew of other issues) they claim it worked every time and no repair was made. Not pleased with FORD at all.

Leeann in canada

Have a 2013 escape and not impressed with the lift gate at all. As soon as it got cold -15 Celsius. Does not open! Dealer told me to take into heated garage to " thaw " it out.

William Lewis

I don't under stand hoe the tail gate works. So can anyone walk by your escape and put their foot under bumper and open the door?

L Fender

Have had a 2013 Ford Escape since August. Bought used. Lift gate doesn't shut at least 50% of the time. It shuts but pops opened a little. So I have to redo it or get out and push it shut. Would of liked a manual lift so I could just by pass the automatic lift. Dealer has adjusted once. So now I need to take it back again. Now also noticing my bluetooth phone doesn't work all the time.

mary jo white

how does it know that you are the owner? Not good for just anybody to be able to open it with their foot.


you need to have the keyfob on your person to be able to access the liftgate, same with the auto unlock feature for the doors. The key has to be within a foot or so to activate the features. I have the liftgate assist on my escape and love the feature.


As another commenter brought out, this is a lawsuit waiting to happen. So, you need to stand on one leg to use this feature? Having the key fob in your HAND is a much safer idea. If you are carrying too many groceries to your car, use a cart. When I first saw the ad for this, I thought it was a joke...a Saturday Night Live commercial spoof. Voice command would be a safer and more reliable alternative.


I bought a 2014 Escape this July and got the Titanium package. The foot lift gate thing doesn't work the way it is supposed to. I've never owned a Ford, but my husband and I were trading in two cars and they gave us a really good deal (in my husband's opinion). I cannot lie, the driving ability is great, I love the backup monitoring system as it beeps if you are near something too close, but I'm very disappointed in the lift gate. I was looking forward to it, as I carry a lot of stuff to and from work. It would have been nice to do a swipe and go. However, it's more like a native dance or a hokey pokey kind of thing. You put your right foot in, and out, you shake it all about, and then your sliding it your foot under it. You aren't sure if it will work from left to right, or right to left, so you're attempting to do both, until finally you realize...
the amount of time you just put into making up new moves (and entertaining those around you going to their vehicles), you could have simply pressed the button for it to have opened, or have hit the button on your key chain. Seriously, they should not even charge for that piece of crap contraption. It doesn't work.
I do like how it turns. I turned in my Volvo s40 because it just didn't do well in the snow (I live in the northeast), and I finally gave into buying an AWD, small SUV, so that I don't get stuck in the snow anymore. In the end, I thought I would miss how my volvo turned corners, but to my surprise, this Escape handles very well and turns great! When I test drove the Edge, I felt that it could not turn as easy, and didn't have as much pick up, so that was it for me.
Anyway, as I've babbled long enough, I just wanted to say that it's a great vehicle so far...
minus the ridiculous imaginary kick lift gate that doesn't work. I swear all of us are on candid camera (through our back up cams.), and all the people from Ford are dying from laughter, as they watch us everyday.


Im 72 yo female this year and not as steady on my feet. I have tried and it didnt work. I will try again tomorrow after reading the straight swift kicks. When you take into account that your arms are too full to manage a key, chances are you cant see down well. Kind of risky not being able to see well, with standing on one legg and kicking under your car. Personally, I think Voice Recognition Code set up by the owner would be the better way to go then this kicking action.


BTW for those fearful of someone else opening your tail gate, I never ever leave my car with out locking it up. Twenty years ago I locked my car and still had it stolen. Felt so violated I had it towed to the dealer and traded it.

I forgot to mention I think it is a super car to handle. Drives so great and pick up is fantastic. Has too may gadgets. There are 3 places to change radio station/volume, car temp. Over kill! Miss the sunroof and heated seats. Added electric start for cold weather. Traded my 10 yr old Equinox and bought 2013 SUV Escape one year old w/ 6 miles and great price, so I lost a few comforts. LOVE the car. Most cars have recalls and 4 were corrected before I bought it.


Have a 2014 Escape. Love the fact that the tail gate opens if you kick under the bumper. HATE the fact if you are putting groceries in and lean in, it starts to close on you! The whole kick thing is a problem. Anyone know how to shut it off and operate manually?


I agree with Carole. I've been "eaten" by my 2014 Escape 3 times while trying to put groceries in the back. The last time I was way over to the right side of the back of the car leaning way in and I didn't know the tail gate was coming down. The corner of the tailgate hit me in the back of the head as I was straightening up. I have a huge lump on the back of my head. I asked my husband to disable it if possible. Someone could really get hurt.


Wait until this technology starts failing with corrosion and repair costs down the road. After reading some above comments, I guess you really don't have to wait that long after all.

When Ford issues another recall on this car, just have them fix the tailgate opener while it's up on the hoist anyway. After the warranty is up, grab your wallet.

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