2002 Ford Escape
This 2002 review is representative of model years 2001 to 2007.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The roomy, carlike Ford Escape sport-utility vehicle was introduced last summer and had the right combination of features to become the top-selling compact sport-utility.
The 2002 version of the Escape has added subseries models to make it appeal to a larger audience. It also has such things as a wider variety of colors and a new $1,155 XLT Sport Package with leather upholstery, unique 16-inch sport wheels and side step bars that look good but are useless for those with large shoes.
New Subseries Models
Predictably, Escape prices have escalated with the subseries models. Last year's Escape had base prices ranging from $17,850 to $21,025. But the new Escapes go from $18,670 to $25,880. However, even base trims are pretty well-equipped, with such items as air conditioning and power windows, locks and mirrors.
Developed With Mazda
It's nice that the $18,155 to $23,915 Tribute is available if you don't exactly like the Escape. However, the Escape probably will have higher resale value because of the more familiar Ford nameplate.
The Escape 4-cylinder works with an acceptable 5-speed manual transmission, while V6 trims come with a responsive 4-speed automatic.
Two Drive Systems
Of course, performance isn't nearly as lively with the 4-cylinder. But that engine is economical, providing up to an estimated 23 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway. The V6 isn't as thrifty, but is no fuel hog. It delivers up to an estimated 19 city and 24 highway and can propel the Escape to 60 mph in just 8.5 seconds. .
Owners of most larger sport-utility vehicles can just dream about even the Escape V6's fuel economy, and both Escape engines only need 87-octane gasoline.
Fun To Drive
While soft, the brake pedal has a progressive feel and helps allow short stopping distances. Anti-lock brakes are standard on XLT models and optional on XLS versions. Front side airbags are optional for both.
Gauges can be quickly read and controls are within convenient reach. But finding the ignition switch on the steering column can require groping—especially at night. Too bad the switch wasn't put on the dashboard.
Awkward Transmission Lever
The cargo area is generous, and the entire rear seat can be easily folded forward to significantly increase cargo space.
With a large number of people shifting to smaller sport-utilities that are less trucklike and more economical, the Escape should continue to do well.