I bought this Escape in Alaska in 2005. It worked GREAT in the snow and gets good mileage. Loaded it full of stuff (so much that the rear suspension was sagging) and drove it to Minnesota in 2006, no problems. Packed it up again and drove it to Maryland in 2009. She's still running great with 95,000 miles. I replaced the stock tires at 80,000 miles and just replaced the front pads/rotors a week ago. The original brakes were on the edge of failing, but they gave me no problems for 95,000 miles. It ain't fancy but it's come a long way! I'm going to keep it until the wheels fall off.
Great AWD system, 30+ mpg on long road trips, no mechanical issues whatsoever (knock on wood).
2.3L engine works well most of the time but more power would be great. Paint is chipping off on rear of the roof to expose primer, and a couple rust spots developing. Light that illuminates the shift letters (P, N, D, R, etc) went out at about 60,000 miles, very minor.