Bought this vehicle new in Oct. 2003. No trade in got a good deal from the dealership. Car has been one of the best we ever had for the money. 202,000 miles and still running strong. I change my own oil, every 5,000 miles w/Motorcraft oil and filter and the 3.0 V-6 never uses any oil, average 1/2 qt. in 5,000 miles. Very happy with the car. Went out and bought another new one hope it is as good as the 2004 has been. Got 26MPG highway with Continental tires, went on the cheap with Cooper tires last set never again. Tires are loud, ride rough had them balanced twice, plus MPG DROPPED 2 MPG stay away from Cooper tires.
My mom bought this SUV in October 2012 (I've daily driven it since September 2014) with 113,000 miles, with almost all the maintenence reports, and the vehicle was very well maintained. First year of ownership was great. It Handled very well, rode very nicely, had a lot of power, and got good gas mileage (25 MPG combined). About 13 months later it started having normal issues, like needing tie rods and tires and spark plugs. Then the vacuum leaks popped up. Then the exhaust falling off the car. Then needing a seal on the transfer case replaced. My car died in September 2014, and I've been driving the Escape almost daily since. In that time, it's needed struts as well as two new tires, which are normal things to wear on a car. The not so normal? Power steering pump failed twice, needed new brake lines, new front calipers, as well as a new master cylinder, more vacuum leaks, exhaust leaks, ball joints, and a wheel bearing. Fast forward to now, the car sits at 153,954 miles, and the car has an extremely rough idle, a plastic melting smell that will literally burn your eyes, and stalling. I'm pretty sure it's a vacuum link, my mom thinks the engine is blown. Either we're not sinking any more money into it, as the transmission was on it's way out as well.
Bought this sweet heart with 120k and have put another 50K on in the last 18 months. 4x4 easy to handle and shift. We live in Alaska and have some pretty icy roads and rough weather. I can leave town and trust my bride will be safe in our trusted little rig. Tracks and climbs like one of the big boys but just sips the fuel. Plenty of power and a delight to drive. No problems thus far, but keep those fluids changed ! Very strange way to change the front turn signals.
Only have about 98K, but the body is starting to rust out. I've seen Escapes much newer than mine with similar corrosion problems. Engine has been reliable (aside from several coil packs requiring replacement), but it gulps fuel. Transmission has been reliable and shifts well. If we drove longer distances, we would add a separate transmission cooler due to problems others have reported. Car is peppy and feels sporty. Well weighted steering. Upholstery shows stains like there's no tomorrow. The 4 wheel drive is not the best, even when the part time 4x4 mode is selected.
If you don't live in the rust belt, aren't that concerned about gas mileage or 4x4 prowess (forget driving in deep snow),, get it.