2009 Ford Escape SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2009 Ford Escape SUV

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Ford Escape Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.5 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 171 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 20/28 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2009 Ford Escape

  • With upgrades to its engine and suspension, the 2009 Ford Escape would get our full endorsement were it not for mediocre braking performance.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Comfortable interior, peppy performance, Sync voice-control system, impressive safety scores.

  • Cons

    Lackluster braking compared to rivals, folding down second seat needlessly complex.

  • What's New for 2009

    The 2009 Ford Escape receives under-the-skin changes that complement last year's cosmetic makeover. There's more power underhood and a tweaked suspension for improved handling and ride dynamics. Ford has also added its Sync MP3 player and cell phone interface.

Full 2009 Ford Escape Review

What's New for 2009

The 2009 Ford Escape receives under-the-skin changes that complement last year's cosmetic makeover. There's more power underhood and a tweaked suspension for improved handling and ride dynamics. Ford has also added its Sync MP3 player and cell phone interface.


It may be hard to believe, but the Ford Escape compact SUV debuted almost a decade ago. Right out of the gate, this loveable little ute was a front-runner. With its just-right size, peppy available V6, well-balanced chassis and tough looks, it stood out in a class of chiefly dull four-cylinder entrants. It's been a strong seller for Ford, often to the point of being the best-selling compact SUV in America.

Since those earlier glory days, however, the Escape's fortunes haven't been as kind. The competition got bigger and stronger while the Escape soldiered on without a major redesign. But Ford has recently been putting in an effort to keep its Escape relevant. Last year, the Escape received a complete cosmetic makeover, lending the ute a tougher look more in keeping with Ford's bigger trucks. But the chassis remained virtually unchanged, apart from the poor decision to change the rear brakes from a disc setup to drum brakes, which hurt the Escape's maximum braking performance.

For 2009, the Ford Escape gets the brawn to match its handsome new duds, including more powerful engines, a new six-speed automatic transmission and a more athletic suspension tuning. This year also brings a capless fuel filler and Ford's Sync system (which allows voice activation of audio, navigation and phone functions). Cruise control and antilock brakes, formerly optional on the lower trims, become standard across the line.

The inline-4 sees an increase in size -- up to 2.5 liters versus the previous 2.3 -- which contributes to its greater output, now rated at 170 horsepower. Tweaks to the 3.0-liter V6 bump it up to a stout 240 hp. The new six-speed automatic further optimizes the Escape's performance as well as its fuel economy -- which, according to Ford, goes up 1-2 mpg.

The new engines and transmission handily address previous complaints of merely adequate acceleration and mediocre fuel economy. However, last year's backward step of fitting the Escape with rear drum brakes still stands, and braking performance is subpar. Our testing of an '08 Escape resulted in a best stop from 60 mph taking a very lengthy 154 feet. That distance is about 25 feet longer than the class average and a decidedly poor showing for an ABS-equipped vehicle.

The poor panic braking performance prevents us from giving the 2009 Ford Escape our full endorsement. But it still has a lot going for it in terms of performance, comfort and style. Along with models such as the Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander, Saturn Vue and Toyota RAV4, you'll want to give the Escape a look.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2009 Ford Escape is a compact crossover SUV that comes in three trim levels: XLS, XLT and Limited. The XLS comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, keyless entry, cruise control, full power accessories, a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. The XLT adds privacy glass, automatic headlights, foglights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, keypad entry, a power driver seat and upgraded cloth upholstery. The top-of-the-line Escape Limited has those features plus color-keyed grille and side mirrors, leather seating, ambient cabin lighting and the Sync system.

Options include a sunroof, an upgraded 320-watt audio system with a subwoofer, a navigation system and, for the XLT, a Sun and Sync package that bundles the moonroof with Sync. For the Limited only, you can get a chrome accent package as well as a luxury package, which includes heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control and reverse parking sensors.

Powertrains and Performance

All trim levels of the Ford Escape can be had with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. A 171-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine powers all but the Limited, which comes with a 240-hp 3.0-liter V6. The V6 is optional on the XLT. The 2.5 can be fitted with either a five-speed manual transmission (XLS only) or a six-speed automatic. The V6 comes only with the automatic transmission. Properly equipped, the V6 Escape can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

Fuel economy with the four-cylinder, six-speed auto and front-wheel drive is 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. All-wheel drive drops that to 19/25/21. The front-wheel-drive six-cylinder Escape returns an estimated 18/26/21, while all-wheel drive gets 17/24/20.


Antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length head curtain airbags with a rollover sensor are all standard on the 2009 Ford Escape. A reverse-sensing parking system is optional on the Limited.

In government frontal-impact crash tests, the Escape earned a perfect five stars in front and side crash tests. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Escape scored the highest rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset and side tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

Overall, we're impressed with the Escape's cabin. The front seats are well-bolstered and comfortable, and material quality, fit and finish are good for this segment. There's plenty of storage space, including a center console box big enough to swallow a laptop; it also features reconfigurable bins. If you're a heavy user of portable MP3 players or cell phones, the Ford Sync system is a must-have feature. It allows voice control for your phone, the navigation system and the audio system, and in our experience, it works very well.

The Escape's rear seat, although roomy enough for adults, is flat and devoid of recline or fore/aft adjustments. Folding the rear seat down is tricky, as the headrests must be removed and the bottom cushions tipped forward before the seatbacks can be flipped down. Cargo space stands at 29 cubic feet behind the second row and 66 cubes with the second row folded down.

Driving Impressions

An electric power steering system in the 2009 Ford Escape delivers surprisingly good road feel and response. Although panic brake tests resulted in disappointingly long stopping distances, the pedal furnishes a firm feel with a progressive action in normal, everyday driving. The Escape's handling is commendable, with the SUV remaining flat through corners and composed in quick transitions. This year's tweaks to the suspension result in a smoother ride over small but sharper impacts, something last year's model had trouble with.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

A good fit for me

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Ford Escape Limited 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 6A)

I have owned two 2009 4 cyl FWD Limited Escapes, traded one at 41K miles, last month, and still own another with 43K miles. The only issues I have had with the vehicles is with the Fan motor, in which a resister went bad. Otherwise, I have had no issues with either vehicle. The vehicles offered me the features I wanted, with few I did not want. The acceleration, handling, braking were good enough for me. I was impressed with the gas mileages, I topped 32 MPG, door to door, with both vehicles on long trips, a number of times.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Love it...sometimes

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Ford Escape Limited 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 6A)

I bought this car used, and after owning it for 1 1/2 years I still love it. However it has had some pricey problems. I bought the car and I thought it needed a blend door motor on the passenger side (~$900) I replaced it and turns out it was a HVAC module (this was free after a letter to the owner of the Ford dealership because they misdiagnosed it the first time). I now have intermittent power steering (~$1500 to fix) This is my biggest issue because it appears to be a safety issue. So if you buy this car beware and have that money ready! Also paint is starting to chip off the top of the liftgate for no apparent reason (only 12 inches is covered by paint anymore)

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Too many breakdowns!

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Ford Escape XLT 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6A)

I bought this vehicle new in the summer of 2009. About a month later the Transmission failed. It took a month and a half to repair because of back ordered parts. After the rebuild, the shift pattern was messed up and had to go back for reprogramming. This was all within 15,000 miles and covered by warranty. After warranty, the a/c condenser failed. $900 there. Then the power steering unit failed. This isn't a standard power steering unit either. In other words, $1400 more. I've also had some sort of an mid shaft axle support bearing fail. $400 more. All in all, I have put nearly $3000 in repairs into a 3-1/2 year old vehicle. Way too many mechanical failures. I'm done with Escapes

Comfortable fun, but........

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Ford Escape XLT 4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl 6A)

Bought the 2009 Escape as a replacement for our 1998 F150 that was super reliable. The Escape is comfortable and the V6 is powerful and economical delivering about 22 in mixed driving. However quality leaves much to be desired, the transmission started leaking right before the warranty expired and was fixed under warranty. The throttle body failed at 44000, costing 400 to replace I might mention out of all the cars I have owned I have never ever had a throttle body fail! I really question our decision to buy the Escape and curious as to what other problems will surface, I will be hesitant to buy another Ford.

Looks great and very reliable!

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Ford Escape XLT 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 6A)

My 09 Escape has far exceeded what I expected. Unlike the review, this is a very reliable SUV, no problems at all through 50K+ miles, good pickup when I need it, average 22 to 23 MPG, (actually tracked via receipts) despite pulling a trailer quite often. Had a front and rear end wreck, not my fault, the car behind was totalled, the truck in front was damaged, my Escape got new bumpers and lights and some body work! It's quiet inside, unlike my just traded in Honda Pilot. Engine has a perfect sound when you floor it otherwise, it has a understated gentle purr that I like. The 2nd. row is much easier to fold down than Edmunds would have you believe, and, it's made in K.C., MO, USA!

1 of 5 people found this review helpful

Greatest vehicle made!!

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Ford Escape XLT 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6A)

excellent ride, very powerfull, looks sporty! this is a great vehicle made by ford! dont let the transmision problems scare you away from this great vehicle. ive had mine since new and have never had a single problem with it! ive checked into it also, and if you have a problem with your tranny more then likely it will be covered under factory warranty(not sure why people are complaining). dont waste your time with a chevy equinox, dodge nitro, or toyota rav4. this vehicle is the nicest for the money. and the most powerful as well. i had a 2010 didge nitro and traded it for this 2009 ford escape. gas mileage is awesome. if u wanna have problems buy a dodge nitro.

Talk About The 2009 Escape

2009 Ford Escape Discussions See all Started By

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Read more about the 2009 Ford Escape

Gas Mileage


  • 20
  • cty
  • 28
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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