Better than: Jeep Compass
But not as good as: Honda CR-V
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 58.66
After trying the new-for-2009 Ford Escape, we were impressed by the improvements made over the 2008 version. Offering greater fuel efficiency and better acceleration than the outgoing model, the new 2.5-liter engine and six-speed automatic transmission combine to make a much better finished product.
The towing capacity we would typically expect from an SUV was somewhat meager in the Escape XLT, however, as it seems the manufacturer has traded utility for efficiency. Our test car was rated to tow 1500 pounds, which is only good enough to haul a kart or small formula car—if you've got a lightweight trailer. Otherwise, you'll want to look a little further upmarket; an Escape equipped with the V6 and towing package options is rated to haul a more useful 3500 pounds.
Other staff views
We logged over 1000 miles in the 2009 Ford Escape XLT FWD. Overall, this is a pleasant version of the small SUV, a class of vehicles that we have come to like. As a class, these vehicles are comfortable on the highway and very practical. Some offer off-road capability as well. They also get reasonable fuel mileage--in the mid-20s.
The Escape seems well made. Both outside and in, the fit and finish and quality of materials are more than reasonable. Mechanically, the Escape is easy to drive, has decent brakes, and offers car-like handling and ride comfort.
At just over $24,000, we would like to see all-wheel drive and not front-wheel drive. A sunroof, V6 engine and perhaps even leather interior wouldn't hurt, either. While the 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine is more than adequate to propel the Escape, it does lack some civility.
If you don't look at the competition, the Escape looks pretty good. If you do start to study what's available in a $24,000 small SUV, you'll see stuff like the Mitsubishi Outlander for a little less and the Honda CR-V for a little more. Then the Escape doesn't look as attractive.
David S. Wallens
The Escape was roomy and practical, but it wasn't exciting at all to drive. I guess that's what Americans want, but it was just kind of boring. How about the new Fusion instead? The starting prices are similar.
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