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.
The 2012 Ford Escape's interior is a curious mix of the old and new. The upright seating, large side windows and wide center console all look pretty truckish, but the instrument's cool blue lighting and advanced features seem better suited to a new Taurus than the humble Escape. From the available SYNC audio system to the voice-activated navigation, the Escape is full of little and not so little surprises. Ample storage space abounds inside the Escape, with a huge center console storage system, lockable under-floor storage behind the rear seat, and 60/40 folding rear seats that fold to create a level cargo floor. The Escape's rear seat is one of the largest in this class, and Ford's Safety Canopy, which includes side-curtain airbags that deploy in the event of a side impact or impending rollover situation, is standard.
It's pretty easy to spot a Ford truck or SUV, regardless of its model year. That's because Ford has done an excellent job keeping its trademark look fresh over the years, and the 2012 Ford Escape is no exception. Despite its modest dimensions, the Escape's boxy shape, big chrome grille and rugged protective body cladding make it look quite formidable. Optical illusions aside, the Escape's ample glass, low beltline and short front and rear overhangs make parking or maneuvering through tight spots a snap. The Escape's boxy roofline works to its advantage by creating a tall rear hatch opening and interior ceiling, as well as a long and level roof perfect for loading bikes, kayaks or skis. Those who like their cars simple and clean can opt for either the XLS or XLT trim, while those who prefer a bit more flash will appreciate the extra chrome and distinctive wheels found on the Limited trim.
The most basic Escape, the XLS, is powered through its front wheels by an efficient 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and 5-speed manual transmission. Creature comforts include rear defroster, power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, cruise control, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, 60/40 split-folding rear seats and a 4-speaker CD player with auxiliary audio input jack. Standard safety features include traction control, stability control, front-seat side-mounted airbags, side-curtain airbags and anti-lock brakes (ABS).
Options vary by trim and include a 3.0-liter V6 engine, 4-wheel drive, a 6-speed automatic transmission, the SYNC in-car communications and entertainment system (optional on XLT, standard on Limited), GPS navigation with 10GB hard-drive music storage and rearview camera, 17-inch chrome wheels, 6-way power driver's seat, leather seats, ambient lighting, MyKey programmable key, Active Park Assist, heated front seats, a power moonroof, fog lights, keyless entry pad and the Reverse Sensing System. Dealer-installed options include remote start and a rear-seat entertainment system.
The 2012 Ford Escape's 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine employs variable valve timing for improved fuel economy, reduced emissions and maximum horsepower and torque. If you desire a manual transmission, this is your only engine choice. The Escape's 3.0-liter V6 features a high compression ratio that helps maximize horsepower and torque, an important attribute for those who need to tow or haul heavy loads. While the 3.0-liter engine does provide better acceleration and the ability to tow up to 3,500 pounds, its city fuel economy ratings reach only the high teens; on the flip side, the V6 is E85 Flex-Fuel compatible.
2.5-liter in-line 4
171 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
171 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/28 (manual, FWD), 21/28 (automatic, FWD), 20/27 (automatic, 4WD)
3.0-liter V6, Flex-Fuel
240 horsepower @ 6,550 rpm
223 lb-ft of torque @ 4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/25 (FWD, gasoline), 14/19 (FWD, E85), 18/23 (4WD, gasoline), 13/17 (4WD, E85)
The 2012 Ford Escape XLS' Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts close to $22,000 for the front-drive, manual-transmission model and jumps up to around $25,000 when equipped with an automatic transmission and four-wheel drive (4WD). The XLT models range from around $25,000 to about $34,000 with all the options, while a fully loaded Limited tops out around $36,000. To find out what other people are paying for the Escape in your area, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price. Across the board, the Escape remains competitive with others in this class, including the Honda CR-V, GMC Terrain and Kia Sportage. Resale values, however, fall in the middle range, well below the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, on par with the GMC Terrain and Kia Sportage, but better than the Jeep Patriot and Suzuki Grand Vitara.