2001-2007 Ford Escape expert review
2006 Ford Escape. Click for larger photo
Ford Escape is a mid-size car-based comfortable and functional SUV. It was developed in association with Mazda; Mazda Tribute is based on the same platform. The Escape is available as a front- or four-wheel drive. Powertrain choices include a 4-cylinder or V6 engine and a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. A hybrid version is available from 2005. Inside, the Escape is comfortable and roomy, but conservatively-styled and some materials are not of the top quality. Thanks to up-right styling, the visibility is very good. Controls are simple and easy to use. The rear seat offers plenty of space. If you need more cargo room, the rear seat folds down flat, although you need to remove the headrests.
On the road, the Escape drives very comfortably, more like a car than a truck, however, engine and wind noise are noticeable, especially at highway speeds. The Escape's reliability has been spotty.
2006 Ford Escape interior, click for larger view
2006 Ford Escape
The 3.0-liter V6 Duratec 30 engine
Engine: The 4-cylinder 2.0-liter 16-valve DOHC 127-hp Ford Zetec was the base engine on early models. From 2005, it was replaced by the 153-hp 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine. The optional 200-hp 3.0L DOHC V6 Duratec offers more power, but at the expense of fuel-economy. Either engine is fairly reliable if maintained properly. The 4-cylinder 2.0-liter engine has a timing belt that requires to be replaced at recommended intervals. Both the 2.3-liter 4-cylinder and the 3.0-liter V6 engines have a maintenance-free timing chain.
Fuel Economy: The FWD 2007 4-cylinder automatic Escape's EPA-estimated combined mileage is 21 mpg (20/24 mpg city/highway). It's in tune with other competitors. However if you opt for AWD, the mileage drops to 18/23 mpg (20 mpg combined) in a 4-cylinder version. Strangely, the 2007 AWD V6 automatic Escape is also rated at 18/23 mpg.
Mechanical: Antilock brakes (ABS) are optional; standard from 2006. Rear brakes are drums; disc brakes were available on late V6 4WD models.
The Escape's optional all-wheel-drive system helps in slippery conditions but don't expect it to handle an off-road trail.
Safety: In the NHTSA frontal crash tests, the 2001-2004 Ford Escape received five stars for the driver and four stars for the front passenger. The 2004-2007 model got four stars for both the driver and the front passenger.
Pros: Great size, visibility, comfortable spacious interior, car-like handling, strong V6, rear seat folds flat, affordable price.
Cons: Spotty reliability, outdated interior design, interior materials quality, noisy ride.
Overall: On one hand, only the 2005 Escape is rated 'above average' for reliability by Consumer Reports. Both, the 4-cylinder and the V6 are good engines, but minor issues with either one are not uncommon. A transmission is another suspect. On the other hand, the Escape offers plenty of space, excellent visibility and easy handling. We also have seen a few V6 Escapes with over 250,000 miles still running. Among similar vehicles, Toyota Highlander is one of the best alternatives. Read about Ford Escape common problems and what to look for on the next page.