By KBB.com Editors
In the auto business, it doesn't take long to go from the top of your game to playing catch-up. So it seems is the case with the Ford Escape; a versatile and fuel-efficient compact SUV, but one starting to grow old, and fast. Though given a thorough freshening two years back, the Escape finds itself surrounded by newer and larger compacts, some capable of carrying up to seven passengers. It does not feature the latest advancements in stability control, nor does it offer the latest gadgets such as DVD navigation. Still, the Escape is a sturdy and proven vehicle, one well-suited to the needs of individuals and small families with active life styles and tight budgets.You'll Like This Car If...
If you like the feeling of sitting up higher than in a sedan or wagon, and you also need an easily accessible and roomy cargo area, you'll like the Ford Escape. The Escape's manageable size makes it easy to maneuver in traffic and tight parking areas, and its big back seat offers lots of legroom for rear-seat passengers.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you're looking for an SUV with a high/low transfer case for serious off-roading or a third-row seat, the Escape is not your vehicle.What's Significant About This Car?
A keypad entry feature is now standard on all XLT trims.Driving It Driving Impressions
While the base model's 2.3-liter engine can certainly move the Escape, it's no rocket. If fuel economy is not your top priority, the 3.0-liter V6, which produces a hardy 200 horsepower, is the engine of choice. The base Escape is a front-wheel-drive vehicle, but it offers an on-demand four-wheel-drive system designed to engage only when it detects wheel slippage. The Escape's suspension is engineered to give it car-like ride and handling characteristics, but is still tough enough to go off-road. Part of the secret to getting a smooth, quiet ride is in the choice of tires. In the case of the Escape, the standard tires are wonderful for highway driving, but may be lacking when going off-road. The truth of the matter, however, is that very few people actually do go off-road, but many drivers must deal with slippery conditions, such as snow or ice. For those situations the original equipment tires should be just fine.Favorite Features
Expandable Roof Rack
The Escape's expandable roof rack allows for maximum cargo loading.
Big Rear Seat
The Escape's big rear seat offers 35.6 inches of legroom.
The Escape's interior is practically luxurious, with high-quality materials used throughout the cabin. The instrument panel design is easy to live with, and the redesigned center console moves the shift lever from the steering column to the floor. A roomy rear seat with loads of legroom and a generous cargo hold are the other Escape strong points. Because the Escape does not sit high off the ground, the roof is relatively easy to reach, an important point when loading or removing equipment such as bikes or skis.Exterior
The Escape looks like a miniature Explorer. It's a handsome little SUV that projects an image of toughness and fun. Bright exterior colors, big wheels and tires and a number of exterior packages can convert the Escape into a weekend beach cruiser or a super-plush family vehicle.Notable Standard Equipment
The Escape XLS features a 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual transmission, anti-lock brakes (ABS), air conditioning, rear defroster, engine immobilizer, illuminated keyless entry, dual power mirrors, AM/FM stereo with CD, folding rear seat, tilt wheel, power door locks, rear wiper/washer, power windows and 15-inch steel wheels. The V6 XLT Sport model adds a 200-horsepower 3.0-liter engine, automatic transmission, cruise control, six-disc CD changer, alarm system, six-way power driver's seat and alloy wheels.Notable Optional Equipment
Options include a four-speed automatic transmission, auto-off headlamps, four-wheel drive, 200-horsepower 3.0-liter V6, leather seats, roof rails, power moonroof, front side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags, audiophile stereo system and side-step bars.Under the Hood
The four-cylinder engine is recommended for those seeking maximum fuel economy. It's peppy, provides good low-end torque and can be mated to a five-speed manual transmission. The V6 is more than adequate to move the Escape quickly, but is available only with an automatic transmission and gets slightly worse fuel economy.
2.3-liter in-line 4
153 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
152 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/29 (FWD manual), 23/26 (FWD automatic),
22/27 (4WD manual), 21/24 (4WD automatic)
200 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
193 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4850 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/24 (FWD), 19/23 (4WD)
The front-wheel-drive XLS trim has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $19,805, while the same trim with four-wheel drive and an automatic transmission has an MSRP of $22,215. The XLT trim starts at $22,920, the XLT Sport at $24,550 and the Limited at $25,290. A look at the Fair Purchase Price will show you the typical transaction price for the Escape, a helpful tool to have when negotiating your best price. The Escape is expected to maintain an average resale value over a five-year period, better than the Jeep Liberty, on par with the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Santa Fe, but behind the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.