My 2004 Escape WAS a trooper even with 2WD and without ABS it drove well all through the year.
The V6 powers the car well and the RPMs can really rev up to give you a big boost past 70mph for 2-lane and highway passing.
5 hour drives were no problem, AC/Heater worked well always.
I paid $9000 for it in 2007 with 60K on the engine, I put on another 70K and began having engine issues.
An airhose needed to be replaced but even after that was done the RPMs would drop to 500 and it would feel close to stalling out, sometimes it did.
Even with normal maintenance the rod and bearings seized meaning I needed a new engine.
This, after $700 for new front suspension (at 131K not bad).
The storage and passenger room was excellent for a small SUV, strong engine (although mine died it worked well while I had it).
Good view of traffic.
Improve suspension, make ABS standard, improve MPGs (I averaged 20 with 80%highway).
Improve metal - rusting wheel wells are common on these cars (rear driver side especially).
I waited till just the right time to buy my Escape, best deal I ever made. I am a college sports official and I use it to get around town and to drive to and from events. Space, comfort, ride and looks are just a few of the things that make this vehicle outstanding. I can take just about anything in the cargo and extended area with the back seats down. Plus, I can tow my motorcycle, boat of loaded trailer with no issue at all. I comment FORD for making such a GREAT little SUV.
Fun to drive, 4 wheel on the go or just let the vehicle do it for you. Modern style still looks HOT in 2010!
I am sure the few small things that come to mind have already been addressed.
It is a fun vehicle on trips. I average 21-25 mpg on long trips. However at 92,000 the transmission went out. Quite an expense for a fairly new SUV. In early 2009 the torque converter and wheel bearings had to be replaced. The check engine light remains on (no one can find a problem). After less than an hour of driving the overdrive light starts flashing and the transmission starts shifting very hard (again no one can find a problem). Airbag light stays on now (sensors have been replaced). I am putting a daughter through college right now, otherwise it would have been traded. I have always been a Ford customer, but this has not been a great experience.
It is very roomy. Goes great in snow. Love the choice of going in or out of 4wd. Plenty of power.
Transmission is awful! Better warranty to cover constant repairs.
2004 Ford Escape Limited 4WD 4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl 4A)
I bought my Ford Escape new and enjoyed it for several years without a problem other then usual maintenance. Then at 84,000 miles the transmission went out and cost me $2400 to replace and one month later it died on the freeway, towed again, the pcv tube rotted $585. Not reliable after that. The car shakes unexpectedly and then goes away, sun roof locks up, noises underneath among other things. Should have gone more then 84,000 before replacing a transmission. Would not buy another one. Currently have 113,000 on it and looking to replace it before winter weather.
Size of the vehicle, turns tight.
Transmission needs to be fixed. Sunroof locks up so I don't open it anymore. Longer warranty issued to support the cost of repairs.