2002 Ford Escape XLS Sport 2WD 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
4 cyl 5 spd model @ 80k now: Bought used with 38k on it. I'm very meticulous about car issues and I have noticed only a couple things that have needed attention over the years. In my mind these issues are less about Ford and more about components manufactured in Asia (I'd bet). 1. Idle Air Control Valve needs some cleaning/replacement after 75k miles or so and is a total pain to get to. 2. DPEF sensor craps out about the same time. Neither one ever left me stranded or were $$$ but did create an erratic idle at times. Outside of that, absolutely nothing has gone wrong. Engine has adequate power and has returned 25 mpg avg, consistently. Handling and braking even w/o all discs is good.
Engine performance hands down. For a little 135hp engine it has great low end grunt and wonderful top end when I want to move more spiritedly. Handling always amazed me and turning radius is outstanding. Paint/body solid. Glad I got the 4cy/5spd combo. Durability to the max.
Transmission has always been slightly irritating with some poor synchro's in 2nd and 3rd and it has a touchy clutch when cold. (I blame this on the japanese spec trans) Seats could be better and wind noise reduced, though not bad.