Only if the animal has long legs, knows how to punt and is carrying the Ford Escape's Intelligent Access passive-entry key fob in its mouth (or pocket or purse, if so equipped).
When Ford introduced the hands-free power liftgate, available on the 2013 Escape SEL and Titanium, it said then and confirms now that it would not be activated by an animal running underneath the vehicle. Ford says it uses gesture-based technology with two sensors designed to detect a person using a kicking motion under the center of the rear bumper.
Think of a punter taking a short practice stroke with his kicking leg and you'll get an idea of what it takes. In addition, the key fob for the passive entry system has to be in close proximity to the rear bumper for the hands-free liftgate to work. The engine can be running, but the transmission has to be in Park for the power feature to open or close.
We've seen some pretty nifty animal tricks, but we have a hard time imagining that a dog or other critter could a) gain possession of the key fob, and b) be able to execute the required kicking motion. Moreover, we've had spotty results getting it to work with a human leg, so we doubt an animal could do better. Maybe we need to switch to a soccer-style kicking approach.
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