As with almost ANYTHING I review here, this is a USED vehicle with about 118,000 miles. It's in good condition with some rust and dings in the usual places. The rear defogger and CD player do not work. The former because of abrasion to and fragility of the defroster grid, and the latter due to the apparent fact that Ford's compact disk players are prone to self destruct. This car is classified as a station wagon in my home state, and a Sport Utility Vehicle or S.U.V. in any other publication. I will call this a car or vehicle; whatever, but these refer to the same subject. It's equipped with Microsoft's SYNC (pronounced sink), a CD player, USB port, auto dimming mirror, heated outside mirrors, power windows, power drivers seat, tilt steering wheel, cruise control, rear window defog (which does not work), accessory port, a remote starter, keyless entry and a remote built into the key itself. It also has a 3.0 liter dual overhead cam V-6 flex fuel, a six speed automatic transmission, all wheel drive, antilock brakes, traction control and hill decent assist, trailer tow package (which I had to repair the plug to the wiring) and electronic power steering. It's well equipped.
Like the 2002 I had to scrap, the 3.0 engine gets about 18 to 20 miles to the gallon in mixed driving. It's a bit noisy on the outside of the car, and is a bit loud on the inside when pushed hard. It has 240 horsepower, which is a bit overpowered for a 3500 pound car. The reworking of the intake and exhaust, as well as the upgraded transmission and steering provide a more refined experience, if a bit more bellicose than the previous incarnation. Acceleration is VERY brisk and passing power is assured. The throttle response on this vehicle is one of the best I have ever driven, including a few sportier cars over the years. Handling is decent, but the eight inch ground clearance means taking things slower than what this engine is very capable of. Driving in the rain from Detroit was not a problem. It was just as surefooted as the 2002 Escape. With disks in the front and drums in the rear, braking is adequate enough for a fully loaded vehicle. I didn't notice any fade; the pads and rotors are new, the tires are also new.
The driving position is, as with every Ford I've ever tested is par excellence. Forward and side visibility are superb, and rear visibility is a bit occluded by the smaller back window (as are most contemporary vehicles) that make parallel parking hit or miss. Anything of this year should have a backup camera standard, no excuses. This one does not and I will be installing my aftermarket one. It's cheap insurance against property damage or tragedy. The outside mirrors have inserts to help compensate for blind spots on the sides. I would still head check these anyway for safety's sake. The interior mirror on this one is auto dimming, which is a nice feature when tailgaters have their brights on.
The controls on the 2010 are not as intuitive as they were on the 2002. This one has autolamp, which has been standard on GM cars for decades, but it took reading the owners manual to figure that out, as did turning on the fog lights. Wiper controls have been relocated to the turn signal lever, while the gearshift had been relegated to the console (where this writer prefers it). There is no selector switch for the transfer case, but perversely, one for the traction control under the center stack. The hill descent control is located on the gearshift lever, and there is no longer an overdrive off button. The USB port, mood lighting (mine doesn't have it) power port (this has only one for the front seat) and accessory jack are also tucked under same.
The center stack, which is ubiquitous in late model cars trucks (save GM's ancient full sized vans that date back to 1997), is a technological wonder of infotainment and driver comfort. It is also a pain in the ass to decipher, as are the media controls on the steering wheel. I have yet to get SYNC to respond correctly to my Michigan accent, but the buttons do a decent job of getting things done when you are stopped. The climate control is easy enough to operate, with the exception of the three buttons on the left side that look alike. One for the rear defogger, the other for the front defogger and the last for the floor and defogger. There is also a button for air conditioning, max air and recirculating, which is redundant and confusing, The buttons are also small, but well lit at night.
The infotainment system in this vehicle is "built in" with the center stack, so trying to put an aftermarket system in will be wrought with frustration and cause some of the features to not work. The buttons on this one are small, but well labeled and lit. They are still non intuitive for the average person at first as what the functions are. With some practice, and time, you can successfully navigate through the menus. Allegedly, one can also use voice commands to do the same thing. This is something this writer has yet to do successfully. As with other systems, this one also has Sirius radio, a nice touch on long trips. These do require a credit card, but are worth it if you spend a lot of time in the car. Since my trips are infrequent. I drive a big, white van during the course of my day, an extra $20 a month isn't worth it.
The LED display at the top of the stack proudly reads "Ford Escape" upon starting the vehicle and shows all media functions along with the time. It is also very easy to read as is the main instrument cluster to the left. The lighting is blue with red needles and is very logically set up. The buttons on the steering wheel and doors are also lit in the same pleasing tone. Window switches are well thought out and offer no surprises.
Seats in front and rear are a bit flat and firm. They do offer excellent thigh support, which is in sharp contrast to the 2002's seats. They were a bit plusher, but said support was vestigial. There is no lumbar support on these seats though. The rear seats are equally firm and headroom can be a bit tight for taller riders. This car can seat three in back, but two are better on longer trips. For longer road trips, the cupholders are molded into the console, which is a sight better than those that tend to break with any use at all. Bigger soda bottles will not fit. Since there are only two power points, one in front and one in back. you will want to add more.
As with any vehicle like this, plan on filling up more frequently, especially with the V-6 and all wheel drive. The range on this one is about 300 miles ON THE HIGHWAY. It will be about 50 miles less with city driving. Even though this one is on the small side, it is not an economy car. I've gotten about 20 miles to the gallon driving to Detroit from Lansing. This can be mitigated somewhat by using E-85 instead of gasoline as it costs about 30 cents a gallon less. The range difference between the two fuels seems to be negligible. Admittedly, this is far better than many truck based S.U.V.s that aren't much bigger than this one. The GMC Envoy (A vehicle I'm familiar with, more so than the Explorer, but similar in size. I'm not hating on GM) gets about 13 miles to the gallon in real world driving with about 35 more horses under the hood. The Explorer probably gets about the same. My old Rendezvous got about the same with a less powerful engine and two wheel drive.
Ride quality is also very good for such a short wheel base vehicle. Long trips are easy with this one as are trips to the grocery store. In short, the Escape is a good one to consider for some capability combined with ease of parking and decent room and utility. Fuel economy is on the thirsty side, but this has more to do with having all wheel drive. I'm going to have another report on some maintenance and repair items in my next post about this vehicle, as well as some cheap tips to fix some common issues with these vehicles. Maranatha?