2005 Ford Escape Limited AWD 4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl 4A)
This is our first SUV and therefore we researched and test drove all competitors. Amongst mid-size, above average SUVs, this is clearly the best. We drove almost 5,000 kms (March Break trip) in the third week of ownership and have nothing but great things to say about the comfort, handling and performance. Very responsive engine performance and steering and rides comfortably on semi-rough roads (don't have any reason to take it off-road). My wife and I are 5'9" and 5'7" respectively and there is ample leg, head and shoulder room. Love the moonroof, heated seats, upgraded stereo system. Really like the simple, classy exterior styling unlike some of the competition. Reasonable storage room in rear.
Living in Canada, heated seats and heated mirrors are great. Interior styling is both comfortable and attractive. Quiet engine and super stereo makes for 'I don't mind long trips' feeling. Great handling makes it fun to drive. Dash gauges are clearly visible and provide useful information.
Serious problem: need to add small contoured mirrors to side mirrors to eliminate blind spots. Difficult access to heated seat on/off button. Should offer climate control A/C. Should have inside/outside temperature gauges. Not always sure when moonroof is closed. Fuel economy could be improved.
I absolutely love the incredibly roomy design with the great fuel economy I get with this car! Its big like an SUV and roomy in the front and back with lots of perks but still gets the great mileage of an economy car.
My Escape is a 5 speed and she really has a lot of get up and go. I also love all of the interior room. Three adults can sit comfortably in the back.
I would only suggest putting cruise control in the 5 speed.
Ford scores high in my books for having produced a really driveable small SUV that isn't guzzling gas but performs above expectations. I haven't had a moments regret. Everything about my Ford Escape is fun - plenty of power, enough room, sweet design, easy handling, great road holding. I'm a happy camper, so to speak.