At 90,000 miles, all THREE catalytic converters failed. Happened to be when the auto companies were having probs so parts makers were scaling down causing us to have to wait 3 months for one of the parts. Three months in the shop and $3,600 to get it fixed. During this, our parts guy was told by Ford that it's normal for the CC's to fail at about 90K miles. Of course this also happened a month before we were planning on taking a camping trip with a couple of friends. Wound up using our Ranger w/trailer and friends bringing their car instead of all of us fitting in the Escape plus trailer.
I have a 2004 Escape with about 87,000 miles on it. It has always been a good car for me and its going on 9 years. I had to replace the front axil due to the gear that drives the anti lock brakes cracking. This repair was $350 which was not bad in my eyes. I do routine oil changes and have had all the other fluids changed once, including the brake fluid. I am a firm believer that if you want a car to last you need to put some money into them. I expect I will need to replace the spark plugs and serpentine belts in about a year. I drain the transimission fluid from the drian plag every couple of years and so far so good with the tranny.
My 2004 Escape WAS a trooper even with 2WD and without ABS it drove well all through the year. The V6 powers the car well and the RPMs can really rev up to give you a big boost past 70mph for 2-lane and highway passing. 5 hour drives were no problem, AC/Heater worked well always. I paid $9000 for it in 2007 with 60K on the engine, I put on another 70K and began having engine issues. An airhose needed to be replaced but even after that was done the RPMs would drop to 500 and it would feel close to stalling out, sometimes it did. Even with normal maintenance the rod and bearings seized meaning I needed a new engine. This, after $700 for new front suspension (at 131K not bad).
Bought this sweet heart with 120k and have put another 50K on in the last 2 years. 4x4 easy to handle and shift. We live in Alaska atop the hillside in Anchorage. and have some pretty icy roads and rough weather. I can leave town and trust my bride, daughter and her baby will be safe in our trusted little rig. Tracks and climbs like one of the big boys, pretty reasonable on the fuel, though if your not towing anything and don't live at altitude you might consider the 4 cyl. The 6 is good but not needed most of the time. A delight to drive. Lost the Transmission and had to replace it, but found on out of a wreck, (crap shoot I know but 20K miles later it's doing fine.) Keep those fluids changed and topped off or you'll pay the same price, these rigs like to eat their trannys if you don't keep up the service. One of the most popular and trusted rigs in Alaska for family and general cross state travel.
Only have about 98K, but the body is starting to rust out. I've seen Escapes much newer than mine with similar corrosion problems. Engine has been reliable (aside from several coil packs requiring replacement), but it gulps fuel. Transmission has been reliable and shifts well. If we drove longer distances, we would add a separate transmission cooler due to problems others have reported. Car is peppy and feels sporty. Well weighted steering. Upholstery shows stains like there's no tomorrow. The 4 wheel drive is not the best, even when the part time 4x4 mode is selected.