I purchased my 06' Escape about 8 months ago and couldn't be more pleased. A car salesman friend of mine let me drive an automatic trans. xls and it was OK. When I drove the 5 speed manual though....look out! Very peppy / zippy. I weigh a little over 200 lbs. and this thing will accelerate very nicely in 5th gear from about 40 mph. Zippy to the degree that you don't have to downshift. It seems that 152hp 4cyl is plenty for the Escape.
Of course if you have something against shifting then you want the xlt auto 6cyl. Some have complained that the exhaust sounds a bit unrefined- hogwash.
Engine compartment well layed out- very easy to get at the oil filter for you do it yoursefers. Very happy.
1. Oil filter right up front - super easy to get at
2. Plenty of power without having to downshift
3. Super mileage
26 combined cty/hwy
4. Very maneuverable / handles respectably
5. All the seats fold down for cargo
6. Fun to drive
1. Capet in cargo area needs more refinement in
2. Seats stain easily -need Scotchguard or more stain resistant fabric