The Escape is a fun, nimble little SUV which has great interior capacity and the 3.0L V6 has great power. The stock tires, however, are slippery and noisy. I can't wait until they wear out so that I can replace them.
Handling, good turn radius, seats, 6CD changer premium stereo
Basically, it is a fine SUV except when the speed reaches 60 MPH. Then an intermittent vibration starts. By 80 MPH it feels like the rear tires are totally out of balance...then it quits...then it starts again. Have been unable to find the reason even after all tires were replaced and rebalanced.
I traded in my 01 Civic for an 06 Escape and I could not be happier. This is the first car that I have bought that I was completely in love with. I love the style of the inside and outside and I love the handling. I swear mine handles like a sedan, especially when taking turns. I'm single so I don't need a lot of room, but I can fit so much in my car. In my Honda, I couldn't even fit my niece's stroller in my truck. With my Escape, I can fit my niece's stroller, diaper bag, walker and high chair with room to spare, and of course my niece. I can also fit 4 passenger's comfortably, which I can't say my Honda did. I thought the gas mileage would be an issue but it's not, great on mileage.
I bought my Escape used with 33k miles. I chose the premium care warranty, which I suggest you do if you buy used. It covers more than you think; for example, it will cover a rental which the lower warranty won't.
I had driven the Mariner & Escape, & seriously considered the Escape. 3 versions of this platform are manufactured in Kansas City, the 3rd being the Mazda Tribute. Use Edmunds & compare these two vehicles before you buy. They are 95% identical but those few percentage points really could make a difference for you as it did for me. I'm a Ford fan, I really like this vehicle & I got a base unit, which had everything I wanted, out the door for $14,900. I'm very pleased!
Mazda engine, transmission & all other differences to the XLS, but still 95% Ford. Well done!