2012 Ford Escape Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Ford Escape

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 All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 171 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 20/27 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2012 Ford Escape

  • A slew of innovative high-tech features make the 2012 Ford Escape a tempting choice in the compact crossover category. But most competitors are more appealing due to superior refinement and functionality.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    High-tech entertainment features; nifty automated parking option; hybrid model's impressive fuel economy.

  • Cons

    Feels old compared to rivals; poor performance from rear drum brakes; non-reclining and non-sliding rear seat is difficult to fold.

  • What's New for 2012

    For 2012, the Ford Escape sees no changes of note. An all-new model is set to debut next year.

Full 2012 Ford Escape Review

What's New for 2012

For 2012, the Ford Escape sees no changes of note. An all-new model is set to debut next year.


Nowadays, Ford is hitting more home runs, and without any chemical augmentation, either. The 2012 Ford Escape is not exactly one of them, however, as this long-serving platform carries on unchanged until the appearance of a complete redesign slated for next year.

That's not to say the Escape has been benched for 2012. Despite its aged design, it remains a very popular vehicle among compact crossover consumers. Indeed it's consistently been among the top-selling vehicles thanks to its handsome styling, spirited performance and numerous high-tech features. Among the latter innovations is Sync, the affordable voice-activated interface for audio features. In addition the Escape now offers Auto Park, a Ford system that enables the Escape to identify a likely parallel parking spot and then steer into the slot while you just tend to the gas and brake. The Ford Escape also continues to be the only model in its class that's offered as a hybrid, which delivers about 30 mpg in combined driving.

Impressive as all that might be, potential buyers should know that the 2012 Ford Escape nonetheless lacks a few key items offered by most of its rivals, such as a telescoping steering wheel and a sliding/reclining backseat. And folding that backseat is a multistep hassle compared to the simple flip-down design of other crossovers. But it's the Escape's brakes that have it trailing the competition. Where most of them have four-wheel disc brakes, the Escape uses drum brakes in the rear that simply don't have the power or resistance to fade.

Provided it's fitted with a full array of options, a 2012 Ford Escape will likely please those who desire the latest high-tech features. But there are plenty of other heavy hitters in the compact crossover SUV segment these days, such as the Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage, Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 that best the Ford in terms of overall refinement and functionality. Of course, we expect next year will see the redesigned Escape swinging for the fences.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Ford Escape is a compact crossover that seats five people. The standard Escape is available in XLS, XLT and Limited trim levels. The Ford Escape Hybrid comes in base and Limited trims.

Standard equipment on the XLS includes 16-inch alloy wheels, an integrated blind-spot mirror, MyKey parental controls, full power accessories, cruise control, air-conditioning and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack. The Sync electronics interface (includes iPod interface and Bluetooth) and steering-wheel audio controls are optional.

The XLT adds automatic headlights, foglamps, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a six-way power driver seat, steering-wheel audio controls and satellite radio. The Leather package adds leather upholstery, heated front seats and ambient lighting. The Sun & Sync package adds Sync and a sunroof. The Sport Appearance package adds 17-inch wheels and a variety of upgraded interior and exterior trim pieces. A seven-speaker sound system upgrade is also available.

The Limited adds different 16-inch wheels, chrome exterior highlights, leather upholstery, heated front seats, Sync and a six-speaker sound system. Upgrading to the Limited Luxury package adds dual-zone automatic climate control, rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. The Moon and Tune package adds a sunroof and the seven-speaker sound system upgrade. Stand-alone options on the Limited include automated parallel-parking assist, a rear-seat entertainment system and a navigation system (which includes the upgraded sound system with HD radio, digital music storage and Sirius Travel Link with real-time traffic, weather and other information).

The base Escape Hybrid's standard features list is similar to that of the regular Escape XLT but does include a few extras such as dual-zone automatic climate control and the Sync system. The Escape Hybrid Limited adds chrome exterior accents, a sunroof, rear parking assist, a rearview camera (with rearview mirror-mounted display), leather upholstery, heated front seats and mirrors and multicolor ambient lighting.

As with the regular Escape, the Hybrid offers a navigation system, a premium audio system and, on the Limited, automatic parallel-parking assist as options.

Powertrains and Performance

All trim levels of the non-hybrid 2012 Ford Escape can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive. A 171-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is standard, with a 240-hp 3.0-liter V6 optional on all but the XLS. 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 Escape V6 can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

The Escape's fuel economy with the four-cylinder, six-speed auto and front-wheel drive is 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. All-wheel drive drops that to 20/26/22 mpg. The front-wheel-drive six-cylinder Escape returns an estimated 19/25/21 mpg, while all-wheel drive gets 18/23/20 mpg. In Edmunds testing, we found a V6-equipped model delivered adequate performance, running from zero to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds.

The Escape Hybrid features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine teamed with a battery-powered electric motor; combined they produce 177 hp. Power is sent through a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that provides seamless transitions between gas and electric modes. All-wheel-drive (AWD) models come with an additional electric motor to power the rear wheels when additional acceleration or traction is needed.

In the absence of instrumented test results, we expect acceleration of the Escape Hybrid to be comparable to the gasoline-powered base Ford Escape XLS, which reaches 60 mph from a standstill in about 9 seconds. EPA estimates for fuel economy put the front-wheel-drive Escape Hybrid at the top of the hybrid SUV category with 34 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 32 mpg in combined driving. The AWD version is rated at 30/27/29 mpg.


Antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length curtain-type airbags are all standard on the 2012 Ford Escape.

In the government's new, more stringent crash tests introduced for 2011 (which can't be compared to previous years' tests), the Escape earned an overall rating of three stars (out of five) for its protection in frontal-impact, side-impact and rollover tests. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing, the Escape scored the highest rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset and side-impact tests. The IIHS's roof strength test resulted in a score of "Marginal."

Unfortunately the Escape is hampered by poor braking performance. From 60 mph, the last Escape we tested stopped in a lackluster 154 feet; that's about 30 feet longer than the average class performance. Brake fade was also encountered, with stopping distances increasing with each run thereafter.

Interior Design and Special Features

The Escape's interior is generally attractive, and the center stack consists of neatly grouped buttons that are designed to work specifically with Ford's Sync system. This electronics interface connects with your cell phone and MP3 player, allowing you to control them through voice commands.

In terms of comfort and space, though, the Escape feels its age. Up front, the seating position is too tall, which gives the driver the feeling of hovering above the controls, and there's no telescoping steering wheel. The bottom cushion of the backseat is flat in order to promote a flat load floor when the seated is folded forward, and the seat is devoid of the reclining backrest or fore/aft adjustments seen in vehicles from the competition.

Cargo space stands at 29 cubic feet (28 cubes for the Hybrid) behind the second-row seats and 66 cubic feet with the second row folded down. Folding the second row is a hassle, as the headrests must be removed and the bottom cushions tumbled forward before the seatbacks can be flipped down, a design that ensures a flat load floor.

Driving Impressions

While pleasant to drive, the 2012 Ford Escape lacks the mechanical polish and sophistication of newer models from Chevrolet, Honda, Kia, Subaru and Toyota. Among compact crossovers, the Escape feels the most trucklike, and its handling limits are low. The Hybrid's extra 300 pounds of hardware make it even less nimble than the regular Escape.

Nevertheless, the electric-assist power steering makes parking and low-speed maneuvers easy, and the suspension is smoother over rough pavement than older Escapes. Acceleration from all engines is adequate, though the V6 isn't as energetic as the more powerful mills found in the Equinox and RAV4.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Worth it..

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Ford Escape XLT 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6A)

I got my 2012 Escape used, about 2 months ago. $21,500 I've put almost 5,000 miles on as I drive a lot. Its almost fully loaded, Sunroof, Premium sound, heated leather, microsoft sync. This is my second Ford, and I was hesitant about this, because I had a 2008 Ford Fusion I purchased brand new for $23,000, and it was a total lemon, it was serviced a million times & had transmission issues, thats for another review though, the escape handles beautifully, is good on long trips, Sync really comes in handy because I tend to talk and drive and it allows my iPhone to play my playlists directly off the radio. I reccomond this vehicle %100

Great car for the money

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Ford Escape Limited 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 6A)

Bought the 4 cylinder limited model to get better gas mileage than we were getting with out 8 cylinder. Having said that you can definitely tell its a 4 cylinder. it definitely doesn't have the get up and go that Ive become accustomed to but thats a trade I was willing to make. It feels luxurious and comfortable inside which was surprising to me since I am tall and I thought it was going to be too small. But for the money you can't beat it and I am happy with my purchase.

4 of 15 people found this review helpful

Terrible brakes and awful safety

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Ford Escape XLT 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6A)

Safety: The brakes on this SUV is notorious to be the worst braking system in it's class. It takes 154 feet to stop this SUV from 60MPH and brake fade is expected, which adds on more footage. This means that it takes a minimum of 11 lengths of Ford Focus' to stop the Escape at the best without brake fade. Also, the Escape uses drum brakes on the rear. What is this 1990? The brakes also lock up frequently and this is a known problem all over the internet. The IIHS crash test ratings are not great either.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Ford certified and after sales

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Vehicle: 2012 Ford Escape XLT 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6A)

I have been a big fan of Ford and GM cars with all their warts and issues, so this was a curious experience with Ford and its dealer at Lawrenceville, New Jersey. A car is really a sum of experiences. I bought a pre -owned Ford Escape Certified by Ford. Shocking gaps at all stages. 1. Ford Pre certified. Was given a gar with broken bumpers and mechanicals. The dealer refused to change it the bumper and I also decide to focus on other transmission issues. After 4 weeks, car called in for a day. I got it after nearly 2 week. No loaner or rental. 2. Service - the words dripped with honey but you know when you are spun. Ford directs you to dealer 3. Its car - rough and cheap though functional

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

New car, bad transmission

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Vehicle: 2012 Ford Escape XLT 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 6A)

This was our 3rd new Escape (2005, 2007, & 2012). We have always liked the 'box' for use ability. However, our 2012 XLT V6 Escape developed transmission problems at about 10,000 miles. Ford adjusted trans and slipping seemed to disappear ... initially. Over time it got worse with terrible slipping, hunting for gears, & loud clunks as it found 1st & 2nd gears. At 20,000 miles Ford now tells us the transmission will need "several new parts" (which they have to order). No, they will not replace the trans ... just fix it as they tried before. Our goal now is to get the car running and dump it. We are the 3rd generation of loyal Ford customers and, we are the LAST.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Reliable and good gas mileage

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Ford Escape XLT 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6A)

Had this vehicle for 100K miles plus with no problems and great gas mileage.

Talk About The 2012 Escape

Gas Mileage


  • 20
  • cty
  • 27
  • highway
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Identifix Reliability Ratings

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