By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 10/24/2011
In the world of compact CUVs (Crossover Utility Vehicle) the 2012 Ford Escape stands out for a number of reasons. Fresh from a complete makeover that spanned the 2010 and 2011 model run, the 2012 Ford Escape may look like an old friend, but it's been pretty much remade from the ground up. Unlike its closest competitor, the 2012 Honda CR-V, the Escape offers the option of a V6 engine, which not only gives it more power when needed, but provides more towing ability. The 2012 Ford Escape trounces its domestic competition by offering such exclusives as the Ford SYNC communications system and Active Park Assist, a system which can help guide the vehicle into a parallel parking space. And, while newer names such as the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson pose a major challenge to the Blue Oval's rugged little off-roader, neither has the longevity or the loyal fan base amassed by the Escape's long production run. Then again, the Escape's boxy yet rugged exterior may not hold as much appeal as the sleek and stylish Korean twins, but it certainly fits into the mold of a tough Ford truck, and for many that is exactly the image a CUV should present.
Like the rugged look of the old Ford Explorer and Jeep Cherokee, but don't want to deal with the truck-like ride, poor fuel economy and bulky size? The 2012 Ford Escape offers all the creature comforts of a car with the tall ride height and AWD ability of an SUV.
While the 2012 Ford Escape is an attractive package, its design seems a bit dated, especially when placed next to such newcomers as the GMC Terrain, Kia Sportage and Nissan Rogue. Also, the Escape doesn't offer a third-row seat, something you can get on the Toyota RAV4 and Mitsubishi Outlander.
There are no major changes for the 2012 model.
If you're not a speed fiend or need to haul heavy loads, we think the 2012 Ford Escape's 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is more than sufficient. With 171 horsepower on tap, the 2.5-liter provides good acceleration and passing power and really good fuel economy. Of course, if you need that extra "get up and go," the Escape's 240-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 can provide it and then some. The available 6-speed automatic operates smoothly and helps the Escape see improvements in both performance and fuel economy. However, although Ford has done a good job with the Escape's suspension setup, the overall feeling behind the Escape's wheel is not as carlike as with the Honda CR-V or Nissan Rogue. Also, while the available all-wheel-drive system works well when required, it is not permanently engaged as with the Subaru Forester.
Easy to use and loaded with helpful features, the Escape's on-board navigation unit can hunt down hotels, coffee kiosks and out-of-the-way gas stations in seconds.
Active Park Assist
A feature usually found only on super-luxury cars, the Escape's Active Park Assist uses sonar and the electric power steering unit to automatically guide the Escape into an open parallel parking spot. Voice prompts tell the driver when to shift gears and apply power.