I purchased my Escape in August 2003 and I have had no problems with it. I really like the car, but I feel it is more of a family vehicle. I have heard the front side air bags make it much safer, so I would recommend them. (Mine has them, but I had to special order it). I am considering selling mine in the near future to buy a New Beetle, which I owned before the Escape. Overall, great car, not too tall for short people! :)
Rides nicely. Big storage compartment. 6 CD changer. Cargo room.