I "downgraded" myself from a V6 2006 Escape to this I4 2012 RAV4 and so far so good. I am living in NC bay area but purchased my RAV4 from a dealer near LA downtown during my July 4th trip (a totally unplanned purchase but David in Buena Park Toyota gave me a great price plus reasonable trade-in, highly recommended).
Two weeks with two tanks of gas, hwy/local 50/50, the avg mileage is ~24, which is way better than the previous Escape's (17-18).
The Escape is really a reliable small SUV which gave me zero problem, but with the increasing live expense in bay area, some trade-off has to be made.
Huge trunk, flexible seating capability, good gas mileage for a suv, reasonable acceleration for a I4 engine, easy drive like a mazda 3, 2 years free maintenance.
Make the back-up camera standard on the base trim (just like the new CR-V), or as an option not too expensive.