I've never driven an older Escape, but I have heard wonderful things about them. I loved this the moment I sat in the driver's seat. I was concerned about the gas mileage on the V6 AWD, but it's not too horrible. I wonder why they still have this old 4 speed transmission? That is one of the few downfalls. I have all the goodies, including XM and sunroof, but the standard stereo is absolutely awful! I knew Ford's stereos were always poor, but they should realize that many people make a huge buying decision in the stereo. I went from a newer VDub, so maybe I am just being a snob on the stereo aspect.
Interior is great, except for the center console display thing. It looks kind of cheesy. I love the new exterior look, very tough looking. Makes it more of a truck, which I like. Generous room for 4 or 5 adults. Good cargo space. Very quiet inside!
Better tranny, maybe a more modern, fuel-saving 6 speed? Better braking capabilities, seems very hesitant to stop at times.