Used Ford Escape Buyer's Guide
Though it looks truck-ish and Ford categorizes it among its truck-based SUVs, the Ford Escape is in fact a crossover — originally developed from the Mazda 626’s platform. This endowed the Escape with a number of positive attributes, including a tidy size, easy handling, a smooth ride, and better fuel economy than a truck-based SUV.
Ford introduced the Escape in 2000, as a 2001 model. By that point in the SUV boom of the late 1990’s/early 2000’s, many manufacturers, in recognition of the fact SUV’s were being used as the contemporary equivalent of the station wagon, began to move the SUV closer and closer to the car in terms of they way they drove and the features with which they were equipped.
The primary factor driving this switch was the fact the vast majority of SUV buyers never took them off road. Thus, on-pavement behavior became more of an issue than offroad capability in the design briefs for most SUVs by the 2000 model year, and this made the market absolutely ripe for the Ford Escape.
Used Ford Escape Buyer's Guide: 2000 – 2007
A genuine breath of fresh air when it was introduced, the Ford Escape injected newfound comfort, practicality and athletic driving dynamics to the SUV marketplace. Because of this (and a really good price) Escape sold well for Ford, with well over one million examples of the first generation Escape finding buyers.
Available with both front- and all-wheel drive, GEN1 Escapes were powered by three different engines. The base engine was a 130-horsepower 2.0-liter four, the upgrade was a 200-horsepower 2.3-liter V6. For 2005, the 2.0-liter was replaced with a 153-horsepower 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine.
A five-speed manual transmission was standard equipment with the four-cylinder engines; the four-speed automatic was the only transmission offering for the V6. The automatic became available to base-level Escapes running the four in 2005.
In 2004, Ford introduced a hybrid powertrain for the Escape, to create the first hybrid SUV on the market. These vehicles are most readily identified from the outside by a “hybrid” badge on the front doors and the tailgate. Also, if you look carefully, you’ll note the rearmost side window on the driver’s side is slightly smaller than on the standard Escape. This permits the installation of a ventilation opening for the battery system.
Ford and Toyota did a deal to permit usage of some Toyota-patented technology for the Escape — thus the Ford’s hybrid system is a lot like the one found in Toyota's Prius. Like the Toyota, Ford’s Escape is a full hybrid, meaning it can switch back and forth between running strictly on electricity, or gasoline, or a combination of the two. The GEN1 Escape Hybrid’s gasoline engine was a 133-horsepower, 2.0-liter inline four. When calculated in conjunction with its electric motor, total maximum system output was 200 horsepower.
Escape Hybrids came nicely equipped with an eight-way power adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, a six-compact disc stereo system, 16-inch alloy wheels, power door locks, remote keyless entry, and power windows — all as standard equipment.
If you're considering buying an example of the first generation Escape, be aware recalls on the 2001 model were numerous. You'd be wise to focus your search on a 2002 model or later. Also, the GEN1 Escape was a bit lackluster in terms of the overall feel of the interior. Many reviewers characterized it as cheap looking.[page} used Ford Escape Buyer's Guide: 2008 – present
In 2007, Ford revealed the 2008 Ford Escape at the Los Angeles Auto Show. While the overall shape remained the same, the Escape’s look was freshened by a new grille, larger headlights and resculpted side panels with cleaner lines and rounder wheel arches. However, to quiet the harshest criticism of the GEN1 Escape, the interior was completely redesigned.
Be aware though, the 2008 model year’s changes were focused primarily on appearance. The mechanical changes of the GEN2 Escape didn’t kick in until MY2009, as the 2008 Escape was introduced with carryover engines from the first generation Escape. For 2009, both the four-cylinder engine and the V6 were replaced with more powerful units. The new 2.5-liter inline four made 171 horsepower and the 3.0-liter V6 got upgraded to 240 horsepower. Transmissions were replaced in 2009 as well; the four-speed automatic was dropped in favor of a six-speed automatic, while the five-speed manual Ford offered with the four-cylinder engine was also reworked.
The suspension system offered with the V6 model was upgraded in 2009 to cope with the increased power output. Meanwhile, all Escape models got a revised exhaust system for 2009.
The ’09 Escape also got a reworked chin spoiler and tire spoilers for the rear. These aerodynamic enhancements are not found on the 2008 model. Ford’s capless fuel filler system made its Escape debut on the ’09 model as well.
Like the standard Escape, the GEN2 Hybrid model got its most significant mechanical updates in 2009 as well. A 155-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine became the gasoline powerplant for the hybrid Escape In ’09. In combination with the 94-horsepower electric motor, this gave the ’09 Escape Hybrid a total maximum system output of 177 horsepower. The brake system was also revised in 2009, to exorcise the mushy pedal feel resulting from the energy regenerating system’s operation. Interestingly though, the rear disc brakes were dropped from the Escape Hybrid in 2009 in favor of drum brakes.
The 2010 model year saw the introduction of Ford’s MyKey system, self-parking, sway controls for trailering and spotter mirrors to help eliminate blind spots.
Used Ford Escape Buyer's Guide: Current Model
The 2011 Ford Escape is pretty much a carryover from 2010. No real changes are expected for the Escape through 2012, as Ford is readying an all-new 2013 model based on a completely different platform.
Used Ford Escape Buyer's Guide: Summary
One of the best selling compact crossovers on the market, the Ford Escape represents a good buy on the secondary market — as long as you avoid the first year of production of both generations. GEN1 Escapes experienced a high number of recalls in their first year on the market, while GEN2 Escapes couldn’t truly be characterized as all-new until the 2009 model year. Its most significant mechanical upgrades didn’t make it to market until 2009.
As we’ve mentioned, the 2001 Ford Escape experienced an unusually high number of recalls. Still, as with most other autos, there have been recalls of other model years as well. The best thing to do to protect yourself is run an Internet search for “Ford Escape recalls” — incorporating your model year of interest — to ensure you have a handle on everything that should have been updated.
Also, regardless of the make or model year you choose, make sure you subject any used vehicle you’re considering to a thorough pre-purchase inspection by a trusted professional mechanic well versed in your vehicle of choice.