The Ford Escape looks like a little truck among small SUVs. Its styling reminds us of Ford's larger, truck-based sport utility vehicles. The Escape's ride height and seating position are a bit higher than competitors such as the Honda CR-V, and it can tow up to 3,500 pounds, which is substantially more than most other vehicles in the class. Yet the Ford Escape still delivers the advantages of unit-body, car-based competitors such as the Honda CR-V. Its smooth ride and agile handling make for enjoyable driving, and its compact dimensions make the Escape easy to park. The Escape provides comfortable seating for four, or five in a pinch. Folding the rear seats opens a good sized cargo area with a flat floor, and space behind the seat surpasses that in the trunk of a typical sedan. There are lots of interior storage spaces, the finish is upscale and pleasing, and feature function and switches are among the best. There are no major changes in the 2012 model.
The Escape is quite pleasant to drive. It handles well and has a firm, comfortable ride, without the roly-poly mush quality or the jarring suspension clanks that can characterize conventional truck-based SUVs with tall, off-road tires. An electric power steering system and careful suspension tuning give a level of refinement in ride and handling. Both the four-cylinder and the V6 engines are matched with a very smooth, electronically controlled six-speed automatic, which offers ideal ratios for all vehicle speeds and contributes to the Escape's exceptional fuel economy.
The Escape features upholstery cloth made from 100-percent recycled material. You'd never know by its look or feel, and Ford claims that compared to upholstery made from virgin fiber, production will conserve about 600,000 gallons of water and 7 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 1.8 million pounds. The Escape's front seats have enough cushion and support to limit fatigue during longer drives. Overall, though, the seats are smaller than those in a larger sport utility. Drivers with big frames might find them small. There's not an abundance of side bolstering, but that makes it easier to slide into the seats, and there's enough to keep occupants solidly in place during the type of driving a typical Escape owner is likely to undertake.
The Escape XLS and XLS 4WD are powered by a 171-hp 2.5-liter inline four that generates 171 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic is optional. The XLS comes with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, power windows, mirrors and locks, an AM/FM stereo with CD and auxiliary jack, rear window defroster and 16-inch steel wheels.
The Escape XLT and XLT 4WD add more standard features, including upgraded cloth upholstery, a power driver's seat, cruise control, privacy glass and 16-inch alloy wheels. A 240-hp, dual overhead cam 3.0-liter V6 is optional on the XLT, and includes the six-speed automatic.
The Escape Limited and Limited 4WD come standard with the V6 and automatic, plus leather seating, a six-CD changer and automatic headlights.Options for the Limited include Package 302A, consisting of the moonroof, Premium audio system, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, reverse-sensing system, rear-view camera, and universal garage-door opener; and navigation with the Premium sound.
The Escape Hybrid is available in two trim levels, the base version and the base with 4WD; and the Hybrid Limited and Hybrid Limited 4WD. The Hybrid Limited versions are equipped similarly to the Limited models, but add the hybrid powertrain. This so-called full hybrid features a more fuel efficient, 153-hp Atkinson Cycle version of the four-cylinder engine and a 70 kilowatt electric motor. Unlike some mild hybrid SUVs, the Escape Hybrid can run on 100 percent electric power up to about 25 mph.
The Ford Escape is one of the best vehicles in Ford's lineup, and competitive in a crowded field of small sport-utilities, regardless of price. Yet model for model and feature for feature, the Escape prices are very good. The Escape offers front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, competitive four- or six-cylinder engines and the Hybrid package, which works essentially as the conventional models do. Fuel mileage for all models, and towing capacity, rank with the best. For all-purpose, reasonably efficient daily transport on the road, the Escape rates among the best smaller SUVs.Visit the official 2012 Ford Escape website for more vehicle details.
Some of the information for this review was obtained through newcartestdrive.com
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