When it comes to small SUVs, the Ford Escape is a clear leader in a crowded segment. Literally.
Since its introduction in 2001, the Escape is serving a niche that had long been neglected by Ford ever since its Bronco II died a merciful death a generation earlier. Available in front or all wheel drive, the Escape occupies the bottom slot of the Ford brand's SUV slot, just below the Explorer.
For the 2008 model year, Ford redesigned the Escape to keep pace with rapidly changing technologies and to meet customer demand. Those changes are carried over for 2009, but with one significant difference: a optional six-speed automatic transmission allows the SUV to achieve class leading highway fuel economy of 28 mpg, a two mile per hour increase over the 2008 model.
Base price for the standard Escape starts at a very competitive $20,100 for its XLS model equipped with a new 2.5L I4 engine that is paired with a five-speed manual transmission. A midrange XLT with automatic transmission retails for about $3000 more while the top range Limited with V6 engine and all wheel drive retails for $27,300. Ford also offers a hybrid Escape, making for eleven separate models for its cute ute.
Ford shares its platform with the Mazda Tribute and the Mercury Mariner, the former which got the small ute segment started for Ford by taking the platform which was then underpinning the Mazda 626 and using it as the basis for the trio of small SUVs. The Tribute is priced slightly less than the Escape, while the well equipped Mariner is priced higher.
The Escape seats four passengers in comfort and can add a fifth in a pinch, offering one of the largest cabin interiors for SUVs in its class.
Safety is an important attribute for the Escape which offers independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs and stabilizer bar for the front suspension and independent double lateral and semi-trailing arm design for the rear. Electric steering, roll stability control, and 4-wheel anti-lock brakes are standard as well. A wide range of options allows buyers to outfit their Escapes accordingly while the after market industry has done its part to develop grill guards, body kits, car covers, racks, graphics, even vertical doors.
In this day of high fuel prices, it is good to know that some SUVs are quite thrifty while allowing drivers to still have fun on and off the road (light duty) - the Ford Escape successfully meets these two challenges.
Copyright 2008-2012 - Matthew C. Keegan is the owner of a successful writing and marketing business based in North Carolina, USA. He manages several websites and is a contributing writer for Andy's Auto Sport, a retailer of quality Ford Escape Lamdo doors and Ford Escape intakes .