Review: 2008 Ford Escape
This 2008 review is representative of model years 2008 to 2012.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The early 2008 Ford Escape was due for a complete overhaul, but the 2007 model was pretty good so Ford just gave the new version more rugged styling, nicer interior and additional features.
The Escape has been the top-selling small SUV since its 2001 arrival, with more than 1 million sold. Carried over from the 2007 version are a rigid structure, decent room for five tall occupants, a large cargo area and good roadability.
Engines also are carried over, as is a gasoline/electric hybrid version.
Passing for Crossover
The entry gasoline-engine XLS, midrange XLT and top-line Limited trim levels are offered with front- or all-wheel drive without low-range gearing. So is the gas/electric Hybrid version.
New Rugged Styling
Headlights sweep up toward the corners of the Escape and surround a large new grille. Available 17-inch wheels further toughen the overall look.
New recessed channels in the roof panel improve airflow over the top of the Escape, and horizontal ribs in the roof strengthen the body structure and reduce interior noise. Additional isolation from wind and road noise is provided by thick new carpeting and an acoustic headliner on the inner roof.
Lower Sticker Prices
Base prices range from $18,580 for the front-wheel-drive XLS 4-cylinder version with a 5-speed manual gearbox to $26,825 for the all-wheel-drive Hybrid, which has a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
The Limited V6 costs $23,580-$25,330, but the trim level expected to account for half of Escape sales is the $21,880 front-wheel-drive XLT V6.
The XLS also is available with a 4-speed automatic transmission, while the V6 only comes with that automatic. A more modern 5-speed automatic really should be offered.
Lazy Base Engine
The 3.0-liter 200-horsepower V6 delivers considerably better acceleration and lets the Escape tow up to 3,500 pounds, although the 65-75 mph passing time on highways is average. An engine with at least another 35 horsepower and more torque would be appreciated, especially if the Escape has a heavy load.
Surprisingly Fast Hybrid
The Hybrid's transition between gas and electric operation was good, but has been made smoother for 2008.
Lower Estimated Economy
The front-wheel-drive Escape 4-cylinder with the manual gearbox delivers an estimated 22 mpg in the city and 28 on highways. Figures with front-wheel drive and the automatic are 20 city and 26 highway—and 19 and 24 with all-wheel drive.
The Escape V6 front-wheel-drive version provides 18 city and 24 highway, or 17 and 22 with all-wheel drive, which usually lowers fuel economy.
More Upscale Interior
There's a new uncluttered center console. And a "top-of-dash" level display in the dashboard shows radio functions, climate control readouts and ambient temperature. This new design puts key vehicle information in one place at the top of the dash to make it easier to reference when driving. But daytime reflections on dashboard gauge covers should be eliminated.
All safety features now are standard. They include "safety canopy" side air curtains that provide head and neck protection, side-impact airbags, anti-lock brakes, tire-pressure-monitor system and a traction/anti-skid control with a roll-stability control system (except for the Hybrid).
New options include dual electronic automatic temperature control, SIRIUS satellite radio, leather seats with a power driver's seat, sunroof, 17-inch wheels and a Limited Luxury Package with heated front seats, reverse sensing system and steering-wheel audio switches.
The 2008 Escape is more of an attractive buy than ever, although regular versions could use stronger gasoline engines.