What's New for 2007
Changes are minor on the 2007 Ford Escape. There's a new Silver Appearance Package that provides a variety of silver metallic exterior accents. Besides that, the XLT Sport model switches from two-tone to monochromatic exterior paint and keypad entry is standard on XLT Sport and Limited models. Finally, Ford has increased its powertrain warranty coverage to five years/60,000 miles for all '07 models.
The small-SUV segment was growing fast when Ford introduced its car-based Escape sport-ute for 2001. Six years later it's a larger, more competitive category, yet the Escape continues to sell well, despite the fact that it's received minimal changes over the years. Credit is due Ford for getting it right the first time. Even today the 2007 Ford Escape meets the minimum needs of most compact-SUV buyers: It's roomy enough for a family of four, easy to drive in the city and, equipped with the V6 engine, adequately powerful on the highway. However, the competition has moved on considerably in the small-SUV class this year, and several of the Escape's peers now offer more powerful and fuel-efficient engines, along with superior driving dynamics.
Ford designed and engineered the Escape in conjunction with Mazda, which has a lot to do with this SUV's dynamics. Although the chassis tuning on the Escape has always been a bit softer than that of its corporate twin, the Tribute, it was one of the most athletic small SUVs available at the time of its introduction. Now, however, it's merely one of many easy-to-drive car-based SUVs, and several competing models feel sportier when going around corners. Ride quality, too, is decent, but some of the newer models in the compact class do a better job of smoothing out pavement imperfections. Overall, the 2007 Ford Escape is an adequate performer, and with the optional all-wheel-drive system, it can tackle rain, snow and the occasional dirt road.
Compared to the newer s in this price range, the 2007 Ford Escape is missing a few key features. On the safety side, it's not available with stability control, and when it comes to convenience items, features like a navigation system and Bluetooth capability are missing from the options list. Entertainment options are also a bit limited, as neither a rear DVD player nor an auxiliary MP3 player jack is available. If these features are important to you, the Escape might not be a good fit. And not only do recently redesigned competitors like the Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander and Toyota RAV4 offer these items, they provide better acceleration and handling to boot. If the 2007 Ford Escape was the only small SUV you ever drove, you'd probably be perfectly happy with it, but alongside newer rivals, Ford's entry-level sport-ute is beginning to slip.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Ford Escape is a compact, four-door SUV available in four trim levels: XLS, XLT, XLT Sport and Limited. Equipped with 15-inch steel wheels, XLS versions start you out with basic amenities like air-conditioning, keyless entry, a CD player and power windows and mirrors. The Escape XLT is likely the best bet for most buyers, as it adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a power driver seat, upgraded cloth upholstery, cruise control and an in-dash CD changer, while also offering the option of a V6 engine. The XLT Sport has a monochromatic exterior treatment, black step bars, machined aluminum wheels and keypad entry. The high-line Escape Limited also comes with body-color trim, as well as leather upholstery, automatic headlamps and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Options include a moonroof, an upgraded 320-watt audio system with a subwoofer and, on the Limited only, heated seats and mirrors.
Powertrains and Performance
All versions of the 2007 Ford Escape are available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Standard on the XLS and XLT is a 2.3-liter inline four-cylinder engine that makes 153 horsepower and 152 pound-feet of torque. It can be matched to a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. There's also the more potent 3.0-liter V6, which makes 200 hp and 193 lb-ft of torque. It is optional on the XLT and standard on XLT Sport and Limited models. The V6 comes with an automatic transmission only, and on models with towing preparation, allows the Escape to pull trailers of up to 3,500 pounds.
ABS is standard on all Escapes, and V6 models have four-wheel disc brakes. The optional Safety Package includes front seat-mounted side airbags and full-length head curtain airbags with a rollover sensor. A reverse-sensing system is optional on the Limited. Stability control is not available.
The Escape fared well in government crash testing, earning a perfect five stars for the driver in frontal impacts and four stars for the front passenger. In side-impact crash tests, it received five stars for both front- and rear-seat occupants. In IIHS frontal-offset crash testing, the Escape received an "Acceptable" rating (the second highest on a scale of four). When equipped with side airbags, the Escape merits a "Good" rating (the highest) from the IIHS for side-impact protection; without the bags, it rates "Poor" (the lowest).
Interior Design and Special Features
The Escape has never been known for its exciting interior, but most buyers will find the layout functional and user-friendly. The front seats can accommodate adults of all sizes, while the backseat is comfortable for kids and passable for adults. There are 33 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, and you can fold them down to open up 65 cubic feet of capacity, a good figure for this class.
Once a standout for its impressive road manners, the Ford Escape's updated competition now has it feeling rather ordinary. True, it's sure-footed when going around corners, and its steering is reasonably responsive. Ride quality is a bit less impressive, though, as the Escape has a busy feel on expressway pavement, and considerable wind and road noise finds its way into the cabin. Ford's 3.0-liter V6 continues to offer respectable acceleration, but the four-speed automatic transmission sometimes leaves it flat-footed during passing attempts. More worrisome is the disappointing fuel economy you get with the V6; real-world mileage is typically in the high teens. The four-cylinder is not as smooth or potent, but its passable performance and higher gas mileage could make it the better option for budget-minded buyers.