Ford Escape Research & Reviews

Overview & Reviews

Average Score

4.28/5 Average
2,263 Total Reviews
Model Overview:

Since its introduction, the Ford Escape has been one of America's best-selling small crossover SUVs. Considering how many other vehicles are available in this segment (many of them well established before the Escape's debut), this may come as a bit of a surprise. But Ford has a keen knack for designing SUVs that appeal to a wide range of buyers.

With the original Escape, Ford successfully combined the styling and four-wheel-drive capability of a traditional SUV with the size, practicality and driving characteristics of a midsize car. For the urban dweller in need of something comfortable, versatile, fun to drive and capable of doing some light-duty off-roading or towing, it fills the bill perfectly. Of course, the Escape's affordability certainly boosted its appeal as well.

Although it received a significant freshening for 2008 that brought notable improvements to the interior, the Escape soldiered on with its original platform until 2013's complete redesign. The latter rebirth vaulted the Escape toward the front of the compact crossover class, as it offers an appealing combination of styling, performance, fuel efficiency, features and comfort. Prior to that overhaul, however, many rival compact SUVs offered more refinement as well as a more rewarding driving experience.

Current Ford Escape
The current Ford Escape stands as one of the top entries in the very competitive compact crossover segment. There are three trim levels: S, SE and Titanium. The S comes with full power accessories, air-conditioning, the Sync voice command system, a rearview camera and a six-speaker sound system. Highlights of the SE include a turbocharged engine, keyless entry keypad, a power driver seat and satellite radio. The Escape Titanium further adds keyless ignition/entry, the MyFord Touch electronics interface, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats and an upgraded sound system.

Many of the higher trims' features are available on the lower trims, while other options include a power panoramic sunroof, a power liftgate, a navigation system and a Parking Technology package (with automated parallel-parking assist and front and rear parking sensors).

Under the hood is a choice of three engines, all matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional. Base Escapes come with a 168-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder. Standard on the SE and Titanium is a turbocharged 1.6-liter, 178-hp four-cylinder. The most powerful engine is an optional turbocharged 2.0-liter, 240-hp four-cylinder engine. The 1.6 flies the fuel-sipper flag while the 2.0 offers performance on par with a V6 along with higher fuel economy.

In reviews, the newest Ford Escape has impressed our staff with its well-rounded road manners. The 2.5 and 1.6 engines provide adequate thrust, while the 2.0 is downright spirited. The latter flattens hills with less effort than the other two and is quieter and smoother to boot. The Escape can confidently tackle a winding road and the ride, though on the firm side, is compliant enough to take the edge off the bumps and ruts of poorly maintained city streets. Downsides to the new Ford Escape include an unexpectedly high price when fitted with options and the MyFord Touch interface, which is finicky to use.

Used Ford Escape Models
Sharing its basic platform with the highly regarded Focus, the latest Ford Escape debuted for the 2013 model year. Compared to earlier Escapes, it boasts roomier seating, higher-quality materials and a second-row seat that's much easier to fold down compared to before. The latest engine selection and features debuted at this time as well. Since then, there have been only minor updates. In that debut year, Ford offered an intermediate SEL trim level and had the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine as standard for the Titanium.

The second-generation Ford Escape was produced from 2008 through 2012. Changes over the first Escape were limited to interior and exterior design. The body adopted Ford's newer styling themes seen in the Edge and Expedition, while the cabin offered a more contemporary look with improved ergonomics and more available luxury features.

The three popular trim levels -- XLS, XLT and Limited -- were once again offered. Standard feature highlights on the XLS included full power accessories, cruise control, air-conditioning and stability control. The XLT added automatic headlights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a power driver seat, while the Limited provided leather upholstery and heated front seats. Option highlights, depending on the year, included dual-zone automatic climate control, rear parking sensors, a navigation system and an automated parallel-parking system.

Any Escape could be had with either front- or all-wheel drive. Engine choices were carried over from the previous generation initially, meaning a choice of the 153-hp four-cylinder or the 200-hp V6, and both ran through a four-speed automatic transmission. For 2009 the powertrains were improved greatly, as the four-cylinder made 171 hp while the V6 pumped out 240 hp. Although a five-speed manual transmission could be had on the XLS, it's a rarity and as such, nearly all Escapes used a six-speed automatic. There was also a hybrid version of the Escape, which is covered in a separate review.

In reviews, we've found this Escape's strengths to be its wealth of high-tech features and peppy performance. Downsides included poor braking performance, an awkward-to-fold rear seat and a somewhat dated feel compared to newer rivals. That said, this generation of the Escape (as well as its Mazda Tribute and Mercury Mariner twins) remains worthy of shoppers interested in a well-rounded compact crossover.

The Ford Escape was introduced in 2001, and its basic exterior and interior design remained unchanged through '07. It was initially available in XLS, XLT and XLT Sport trims that were joined by the leather-lined Limited a few years later. Ford Escapes were equipped with a rather anemic base engine – a 2.0-liter four that made 130 hp -- until '05 when it was replaced by a 2.3-liter four that made 153 hp. This first-generation Escape also offered an optional V6 that made 200 hp. Although the four-cylinder engines could have a five-speed manual, most had the optional four-speed automatic that was standard on the V6.

Considering how many of these Escapes were sold, shoppers should have plenty of opportunities to be choosy and find a used model that suits them. First-year Escapes were tarnished by numerous recall notices. Though likely resolved at this point, going with a 2002 or newer model might be a good idea. Potential buyers of this first generation of Escape should note that its interior materials were of poor quality, with cheap, hard plastics everywhere.

User Reviews:

Showing 1 through 10 of 2,263.00
  • I wish I could Escape from this car - 2013 Ford Escape
    By -

    I drive this car as my company provided vehicle for me to use because I drive it for work to go to customers. I mostly do highway driving so I am in the car for long periods of time. There are so many things I dislike about the car, but I'll try and not to ramble on and keep it simple. The interior, poor seat fabric, not very roomy at all for leg room, in fact the amount of space between the brake pedal and gas pedal is so small that I can barely fit my foot between the brake and the console that runs down to the floor. The seats are very uncomfortable for longer trips than 45 minutes, the seats are not long enough and hit your thigh mid way and create a cramp in your leg. The engine is the worst, I have had this in the shop for so many recalls I have lost count. The latest trip to the dealership was because the engine light came on again, now the turbo has stopped working and it must be replaced. Dealer said it's a 10 hour job. I'm glad I don't have to pay for this as it is a fleet lease vehicle, but if I had to pay for this I would be very upset after only 89K miles. If I would have bought a GM, Kia, or Chrysler they at least have 100K warranty on there power train and transmission. Come on Ford get with the program, if you are going to put these turbo's on more of your vehicles step up and add more warranty to them.

  • Fantastic vehicle! - 2014 Ford Escape
    By -

    I love my Titanium 2.0 AWD Escape so much when I took a friend shopping for a car after trying out several other brands she bought a twin to mine. Nothing is easier for those with limited mobility to get in and out of out of the 25+ cars we tested for my grandma to get in and out of who is 90 with limited mobility. Absolute bang up job Ford!

  • Poor resale - 2014 Ford Escape
    By -

    I purchased the car on a whim as I needed to travel across country. I was shopping for a midsize truck or larger SUV. I have it listed on a a variety of sights for thousands under retail and all I get is low ball trade in offers. This vehicle still has a Factory warranty and in very good condition. Not a good resale vehicle.

  • Do yourself a favor, don't buy it. - 2009 Ford Escape
    By -

    If there was a lower rating for transmissions I would have given it. This car seems to have a ton of recalls, which the techs like to tell me that Ford is looking out for its customers. I like to view it as, a lot of poor design choices from a company who has been making cars to long. I get being new and innovative, but how about making a car that doesn't have the worst transmission in the world?!? Did they even test the damn thing before they threw it into cars? I realize that all cars have their issues, but this car seems to be the worst I have ever dealt with (don't believe me? just google it).

  • Satisfied customer - 2013 Ford Escape
    By -

    We purchased a new Escape (August 2013) after owning a previous model for 10 years (~130,000 miles, engine gave out after teenage son drove in spite of loss of radiator fluid due to a punctured hose). The newer model is more comfortable and quieter. The car is very peppy and fun to drive (2.0 L engine). We get much better mpg on the highway in the new car (26 - 30) than in the older car (20 - 22 3.5 L V6), but city mpg is not so good in the new car (~15 mpg). We have had no mechanical problems (23,000 miles 2.5 years) and the few recall notices have been taken care of when getting an oil change (yes, the dealer is more expensive than the local oil change joint, but after factoring in convenience and a courtesy vacuum and car wash, it is not too terribly expensive - we like our dealer, one of the reasons we buy Fords). Handles fantastic in the snow (this weekend had 8-10 inches). Rear visibility is not great because of the small slanted back windows, but I noticed this in almost all the new small cross-over SUVs that I test drove (in fact one must look carefully to tell the exterior difference between an Escape and a RAV4). We have been pleased with the cargo capacity when the rear seats are down (it is not like the Expedition, but for a small SUV, it is very roomy). We are not much into the SYNC technology, but have had no troubles (although I still find it jarring when the radio is interrupted by an incoming call - but then I don't like to talk on the phone when I drive, hands free or not). The radio controls are a little complicated, but once we figured out the items we like to change, it is not so bad. Although the car is not perfect (I have never owned one that was), I am more than pleased with the purchased and would consider buying another when this one gives out (assuming it also makes it to over 100,000 miles).

  • Good Commuter Car - 2012 Ford Escape
    By -

    I purchased this vehicle new in August 2012 and I have had no major complaints for 3 years. PROS: This is a decent commuter car, no bells and whistles, nothing fancy. This is a $20,000 car so you get what you pay for. I can answer my cell phone hands free, (SYNC & SUN Model), which is pretty cool. I have not noticed the braking system problems that so many have mentioned. It turns well and easy to navigate in parking lots. Plenty of cargo space for shopping, bags of mulch, flats of flowers etc. I get 25 mpg for my commute to work in highway stop and go traffic, but I have gotten 31 mpg on long highway trips. Running the AC will greatly reduce MPG. CONS: Once every 6 months the starter makes an awful noise, as if I tried to start the car while it is already running. (???). I have a 4 cylinder so there is no "get up & go". Leaks in rear window & probably driver side door as carpet is always wet when it rains. (not sure where the water is coming from). The door handles and the sun visors are very cheaply made, (hate them). Radio speakers are pretty generic. Backseat area is small. Only a small child would be able to sit in the middle seat. The rear folding seats is the worst design. It is a major project if you want to fold the seats down. It is a multi-step process, AND they will not lay flat unless you take the head rest off too. Ugh awful. I don't carry passengers so I took off the three headrest and stored them in garage, so if I need to lay down the rear seating I will not have to deal with the headrest too.

  • Amazing rental car great for fleets - 2014 Ford Escape
    By -

    Me and my 7 best friends rented a 2014 Ford Escape SEL 4Dr 1.6L 4cyl Turbo 6A in Denver, Colorado. Upon driving out of the rental agency, we were surprised at how much we loved the car. The interior was super super comfortable with plenty of storage and it was perfect for road trips. The electronics were great and the GPS was super helpful. The trunk fit all of our ski equipment which was a lot. Perfect car, I would totally want to own one

  • What a GIANT mistake ! - 2013 Ford Escape
    By -

    This car has been nothing but a giant headache sense we first got it . I can't count the times it's been taken in for something . If it's not a recall its the actual car malfunctioning. Here is a list of problems within the first two years : -Sensor was causing the car to flutter and shut off. -water pump -back window needs new switch -seat belts won't stop retracting -front anxel needed to be replaced -radio would not turn on -alternator needs to be replaced I'm sure I'm forgetting something but you get the point. But the most aggravating thing about this car is the placement of the battery . The battery is under the dash board , only the positive connector is sticking out . To get the battery out you have to remove the air filtration system . I can't imagine that ford is that stupid , I can only assume they did it on purpose . I will never buy another American made car . Thank you ford, dodge and Chevy for teaching me to never buy an American made car again. I'm trading this garbage on four wheels in for a Toyota .

  • DO NOT BUY!!! - 2011 Ford Escape
    By -

    My wife bought this car brand new in 2011. Worked great for 3 years and 1 month. 3 weeks after our 3 year warranty expired the back left window regulator went out. Ford would not replace it so we had to have it replaced for $200. One month later the back right window regulator went out. Soon after that the AC went out. And just recently the sun roof stopped opening and closing. We have owned this car for 4.5 years and have had to get more things fixed then any car I have ever owned. The car looks nice and drives fine in my opinion but the cost to own it is ridiculous. I will never buy an escape or a ford for that matter ever again.

  • Just ok - 2010 Ford Escape
    By -

    Overall an ok car. Cheap materials inside. Switches failed. Minor problems turned into big things quickly

Ford Escape Reviews By Year:
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