Ford Escape 1.6 SE
The Ford Escape is the new kid on the block, and it represents a stunning transformation from its predecessor. Of all the SUVs here, the Escape feels the most carlike. If it weren't for the elevated seating position, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the Escape and its Focus sibling, especially since the nicely trimmed interior is in much the same style. Most important, the Escape delivers both the comfortable, well-damped ride and responsive handling you expect from a car, so you never feel as if you're paying a penalty for this utility vehicle's practical packaging. The Escape offers you no fewer than three different engine choices, and the two turbocharged units actually deliver fuel economy as well as stout power. All is not perfect, though. The number of high-tech items on the features list is large, but most are controlled through a MyFord Touch interface that is still unintuitive at times, though it has been improved. The backseat is also a little down on legroom and lacks the sliding capability, but it can be folded forward with the pull of a trunk-mounted handle.
Best for: Shoppers upsizing from a car