2008 Ford Escape Review

Pros & Cons

  • Comfortable interior, impressive list of standard safety features.
  • Lackluster performance, braking and fuel efficiency compared to rivals, folding down second seat a multistep process.
List Price Range
$6,995 - $7,000

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Edmunds' Expert Review

A new body and interior may keep the 2008 Ford Escape fresh for a little while longer, but its driving dynamics are stale compared to newer rivals in the small SUV class.

Vehicle overview

Ever since its introduction seven years ago, the Ford Escape has been a winner for the company and has often ranked as the best-selling compact SUV in America. For 2008, the Escape has received a "top-half" revamping, meaning the exterior and interior got a complete makeover, while the mechanical components remain mostly unchanged.

When it debuted, the Escape was one of those "we got it right the first time" vehicles. Ford's small car-based SUV was roomy for four, fun to drive (thanks to chassis co-development with Mazda) and peppy (thanks to its sprightly V6). In light of this success and its challenged financial situation, Ford evidently hoped that giving the Escape a tougher look and a nicer cabin for 2008 would be enough to keep the entry-level SUV competitive.

With its bolder grill, taller beltline, higher hood and Edge-inspired headlights, the Escape is a handsome little rig. More functional changes were made to the Escape's cabin, including the first use of recycled materials for a vehicle's upholstery, a multifunction display at the top center of the dash and cool blue instrument lighting. To promote a quieter cabin, the Escape features an acoustic laminate within the windshield and new carpeting that's much thicker than before.

Unfortunately, we've found that attractive as the 2008 Ford Escape seems initially, it falls down in a few key areas when compared to more modern rivals. The Escape's available 200-horsepower V6, although generally energetic, has its efforts blunted by an aged four-speed automatic transmission. The end result is a double-whammy of merely adequate acceleration (zero to 60 mph in 10 seconds) and mediocre fuel economy. Almost all its competitors now have five- or even six-speed units that do a better job of keeping their engines on their toes while returning higher fuel mileage. The quicker sport-utes in this class dash to 60 mph in less than 8 seconds.

A more serious disappointment concerns the Escape's braking. For some reason, Ford fitted the 2008 Escape with rear drum brakes (it formerly had discs all around) and braking performance suffers. Our testing resulted in a best stop from 60 mph taking 154 feet, a decidedly poor showing for an ABS-equipped vehicle.

Shoppers in the small SUV segment should know that although the Escape has been a favorite of ours for many years, this year's mostly cosmetic changes aren't enough to keep it in this fast-moving game. In short, Ford's compact SUV has been eclipsed by recently revamped and more competent rivals. Though they cost a little more, you'll probably want to take a look at top vehicles like the Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander and Toyota RAV4 before settling on the 2008 Ford Escape.

2008 Ford Escape models

The 2008 Ford Escape is a compact four-door SUV that comes in three trim levels: XLS, XLT and Limited. The XLS comes with air-conditioning, keyless entry, full power accessories, a CD player and an auxiliary input jack. The XLT adds 16-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, automatic headlights, foglights, a power driver seat, upgraded cloth upholstery and cruise control. The top-of-the-line Escape Limited includes color-keyed grille and side mirrors, leather seating and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Options include a moonroof, an upgraded 320-watt audio system with a subwoofer and a DVD-based navigation system. For the Limited only, you can get a chrome accent package as well as a luxury package, which includes heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control and reverse parking sensors.

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2008 Highlights

The 2008 Ford Escape gets a makeover inside and out. This means new sheet metal that mimics the look of newer and recently redesigned Ford models (such as the Edge and Expedition) and a more attractive and functional cabin. Under the skin, however, the chassis and powertrain are virtually unchanged, meaning this "redesigned" Escape has the same running gear as before.

Performance & mpg

All trim levels of the Ford Escape can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive. A 2.3-liter inline-4 (153 hp, 152 pound-feet of torque) powers all trims except the Limited, which comes with a 3.0-liter V6 (200 hp and 193 lb-ft). The V6 is optional on the XLT. The 2.3 can be fitted with either a five-speed manual transmission (XLS only) or a four-speed automatic. The V6 comes only with the automatic transmission. Properly equipped, the V6 Escape can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

A V6 Escape isn't exactly slow, but its 10-second 0-60-mph time puts it at the back of the pack, bested by many rivals, a few of which are powered only by four-cylinders. In addition, throttle tip-in can be abrupt, requiring a concerted effort to enact a smooth takeoff. Fuel economy is respectable with the four-cylinder engine (24/29 mpg on manual-equipped models) but below average with the V6.


Antilock brakes, a tire-pressure monitor, traction control, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length head curtain airbags with a rollover sensor are all standard on the 2008 Ford Escape. A reverse-sensing parking system is optional on the Limited. Safety scores have not been published as of this writing but we expect them to be similar to those of the '07 model.


A new electric power steering system in the '08 Escape delivers surprisingly good road feel and response. Handling is respectable, with the SUV remaining flat through corners and composed in quick transitions. Sadly, the ride quality is more trucklike than carlike. Although the 2008 Ford Escape's suspension absorbs larger bumps without drama, smaller road imperfections can make the small SUV feel busy.


Impressive fit and finish is evident in the Ford Escape's cabin. A center console box big enough to swallow a laptop also features removable bins that can be attached to the front passenger side and rear of the console. Piano black accents lend an upscale ambience. The front seats are well bolstered and comfortable, but the rear seat, although roomy enough for adults, is flat and devoid of recline or fore/aft adjustments. Folding that seat down is a bit of a chore, too, as the headrests must be removed and the bottom cushions tipped forward before the seatbacks can be flipped down. Cargo space stands at 29 cubic feet behind the second row and 66 cubes with the second row folded down.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2008 Ford Escape.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Good and bad with the 2008 Escape….
XLT 4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl 4A)
I bought my Escape 8 years ago. Only 85,000 miles on it at this point. Here are the facts: What I have had to have fixed: since new, Liftgate rattled: numerous trips/replacement by dealership. Ford engineer stumped. Put duct tape around the too-small latch pin and it rattles no more. Automatic part of dome light quit. Replaced once, then quit again. Left it that way. Waterpump needed replaced at 75,000 miles. Control arm starting to come loose at 75,000 miles. Replaced battery and tires once. Now I have a small oil leak starting at 85,000 miles. Was told that this year of Escape is notorious for leaking oil and eventually needing a $5,000 repair to head gasket to fix. Advised me to continue to drive it the way it is, as the repair worth more than the car. Leak is very minimal, no low oil between changes. Seat coverings are horrible. Water even stains them, and you can't get the stains out. Dealer told me he has no idea how to get them out either. Interior and exterior rusting, even though 100% garaged and regularly cleaned/waxed. You be the judge.
Transmission issues
Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 4A)
Back in 2011 my 2008 Ford Escape was found to have a cracked transmission, leaking fluid, etc. This fix was covered under the extended warranty I bought when I purchased the car. Yesterday I took the car to the dealership for transmission issues and was told my transmission was shot and its a $4000 fix. Shame on Ford for doing such a subpar 'fix' job in 2011. I did try contacting Customer Service for some financial help...what a joke...in 5 minutes they decided they could not help me unless there was a recall. BTW if you call and get a 'Dylan', just hang up, he is no help.
Excellent vehicle
XLS 4dr SUV (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
Ok let me say this many post reviews based on the experiences in repair shops. And a bad experience with minor things. Overall the escape is a terrific vehicle as with anything it requires maintenence and fluid changes frequently as well as filters. I only have one negative from driving on freeways. Its the moonroof noise. I pirchased a wind deflector hopefully it helps. Over all no problems as of yet recently inspected. Repairs not so bad. But it adds up if your not quick to take care of problems as soon as it rises. Play it smart
Ford XLT
XLT 4dr SUV (2.3L 4cyl 4A)
I bought my 2008 Escape used a year ago. Yes it had the faulty transmission pump already replaced. It is definitely not the most comfortable ride on the highway. My butt usually goes numb, but in-city driving is easy. The seat is powered on the driver's side helping me gain some more height (I'm only 5'6 making seeing over the steering wheel difficult in large vehicles). The controls are easy to figure out and are large enough that my monkey fingers can get control. This version does lack the Ford Sync of the newer vehicles but still has an audio jack. In town handling is easy but at higher speeds it is a bit of a challenge but has the stability control to help you out.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover3 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2008 Ford Escape
More About This Model

By Ford's accounting, over 1 million Escapes (and recent Escape Hybrids) have been sold since the vehicle's introduction in November 2000. That's a big number no matter how you slice it, and it seems to indicate people like the Ford Escape just the way it is despite no substantive changes for the past six years. But sales are dipping slightly and it's time for a refresh of the Escape's look and packaging.

With the redesigned 2008 Ford Escape, Ford has married its corporate truck face with the Escape's palatable price and practicality. Some industry people call this type of revision a "top-half" update, or, in other words, just about everything above the floor-to-body pinch weld is new or redesigned. The engines, drivelines (excluding the hybrid) and wheelbase are carry-overs from the 2007 models which are being highly incentive-ized to make room for the '08 Escapes that will be on dealer lots by April.

Something old
There are two engines available: Either a 2.3-liter 153-horsepower four-cylinder or, as in our Limited all-wheel-drive model, a 3.0-liter 200-hp V6 with 193 pound-feet of torque. Either engine runs on 87-octane fuel and may be paired with front- or all-wheel drive. A five-speed manual is a four-cylinder exclusive, otherwise, an old-school four-speed automatic manages gearchanges predictably. We did come across a few occasions where we'd wished for an extra ratio or two to better suit the driving situations we encountered.

Our instrumented testing also revealed a few soft spots in the acceleration curve when the engine fell out of its peak-rpm performance where a five- or six-speed would've kept it on the boil. And what's with the steep throttle tip-in we keep experiencing in many new vehicles? As with those, it's difficult to move gently away from a stop in the Escape without an initial jerk of acceleration despite a soft touch of the gas pedal.

Something slow and thirsty
A leisurely 10-second run to 60 mph and 17-second quarter-mile confirmed the 2008 Escape's hand-me-down mechanicals are starting to show their age and lack of sophistication. Some newer small sport-utility vehicles easily make the same dash to 60 in the 7- and 8-second range. Even the 2007 Honda CR-V with its four-cylinder engine is quicker.

We were also unimpressed by the Escape's fuel economy. We averaged 16.2 mpg over 500 miles with a 19.4 mpg best tank-full.

In a case of reverse evolution, Ford has decided to reequip 2008 V6-powered Escapes with rear drum brakes instead of the discs used on 2007 models. We can't imagine how this represents an improvement. Ford says less brake dust and longer lining life are the result, but our testing certainly didn't show rear drums to be an especially effective means of stopping the 3,617-pound vehicle.

Our best stop from 60 mph produced a horribly long 154-foot stopping distance. The worst run was an unbelievably long 161 feet. Compare that to a 3,690-pound 2006 Toyota RAV4 with four-wheel discs and its resulting 130-foot stop and you see why we're questioning Ford's decision. Prioritize as you see fit.

Something new
With brakes like that we applaud Ford for stepping up and making two-row curtain airbags and first-row side airbags standard on all its 2008 Escapes. On non-hybrid models, Ford has also made its AdvanceTrac (traction control) with Roll Stability Control (RSC) system standard.

We found RSC to be so effective at quelling potentially hazardous (and fun) yaw and roll rates that it limited our instrumented slalom speeds to a highly controlled 56.7 mph. On the 200-foot skid pad, the system was just as restrictive, limiting the truck's performance to just 0.64g, hardly enough side load to make the tires squeal. In most everyday driving, though, we didn't find the system overly intrusive or even detectable.

The ride, however, is coarse and choppy. Not only does the new Escape look like a truck, it rides like one, too. It remains reasonably flat around corners, damps out the big bumps, but remains "busy" feeling nearly all the time. Maybe Ford would've done well to incorporate the "rides like a car" part of the new breed of crossovers.

All 2008 Escapes feature new electric-assist power steering (EPS), which is easy to get wrong. Happily, Ford did an excellent job with this aspect of the 2008 Escape's engineering. The steering doesn't feel patently artificial or completely numb like some others we've criticized. We like how it parks and drives with just the right amount of effort, buildup and precision each situation requires.

Something borrowed
The 2008 Escape's son-of-Explorer exterior styling works well, too. While it's not going to make any headlines in international design journals, we expect Escape buyers to be pleased with the raised hood, higher beltline and the optional chrome package which together properly butch up the Escape's appearance.

We especially like our example's optional 17-inch aluminum wheels that fill up the pronounced wheel arches better than the standard 16-inch wheels. Despite its being a preproduction vehicle, we were very impressed with our Escape's overall fit and finish with its tight tolerances and mirror-smooth black paint. Doors sound solid and close with authority and we didn't hear a single squeak or rattle over the 10-day loan.

Something blue
Surely a step up from where it once was, the Escape's new interior is still a step behind other comparable small utilities. The look is certainly more contemporary than before with an attractive piano-black painted finish on many of the surfaces; too bad it shows the slightest amount of dust, every fingerprint and smudge. Just don't touch it and you'll be fine.

Options include a touchscreen navigation system, Sirius Satellite Radio, a standard auxiliary audio input jack, and a center armrest large enough to swallow a laptop. Instrument panel night lighting is a cool blue Ford will use on other products. The carmaker has even given it its own name, "Ice Blue," and incorporated it into the Lincoln MKR concept car that will debut at the Detroit auto show next week.

Ford is also touting its new cloth seats which are made of recycled rather than new materials. Our Escape had optional heated leather seating, and front-seat comfort is very good with ample side bolsters and adjustability. The rear seats are flat in comparison, however, and lack any adjustments. Also, the task of folding those rears down is at least a three- or four-step process that cannot be done from the cargo area as in the Toyota RAV4 or Mazda CX-7, for instance.

And a silver sixpence in her shoe
Depending on which models/packages are compared, the 2008 Escape will actually net a very slight price decrease compared to the 2007 models. Our Escape Limited AWD model which carried an as-tested price of $30,610, is base priced at $25,995 -- $385 less than a comparable '07. The ringer here, however, is that Ford is putting a bundle of cash on the hoods of the 2007 Escapes (up to $3,000 according to our TMV® research), so that "lower" MSRP is merely theoretical and is still right in the middle of the segment.

When all is said and done, Ford has put a new wrapper on an old vehicle, a well-selling old vehicle. We don't fault the automaker for the attempt, but we just can't help but wonder if potential buyers are growing more sophisticated along with the small utilities and crossovers the public appears to be favoring recently.

If you've liked the Escape in the past, you'll probably love the new look and added features. If, on the other hand, you'd prefer more must-have new features packed in a quicker, more efficient and, in some cases, less expensive package, you owe it to yourself to look around.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

Used 2008 Ford Escape Overview

The Used 2008 Ford Escape is offered in the following submodels: Escape SUV. Available styles include XLT 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 4A), XLT 4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl 4A), XLS 4dr SUV (2.3L 4cyl 4A), Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 4A), XLT 4dr SUV AWD (2.3L 4cyl 4A), XLT 4dr SUV (2.3L 4cyl 4A), Limited 4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl 4A), XLS 4dr SUV AWD (2.3L 4cyl 4A), and XLS 4dr SUV (2.3L 4cyl 5M).

What's a good price on a Used 2008 Ford Escape?

Price comparisons for Used 2008 Ford Escape trim styles:

  • The Used 2008 Ford Escape XLS is priced between $7,000 and$7,000 with odometer readings between 105990 and105990 miles.
  • The Used 2008 Ford Escape XLT is priced between $6,995 and$6,995 with odometer readings between 102272 and102272 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2008 Ford Escapes are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2008 Ford Escape for sale near. There are currently 2 used and CPO 2008 Escapes listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $6,995 and mileage as low as 102272 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2008 Ford Escape.

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Find a used Ford Escape for sale - 12 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $22,305.

Find a used Ford for sale - 10 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $10,167.

Find a used certified pre-owned Ford Escape for sale - 4 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $20,981.

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Should I lease or buy a 2008 Ford Escape?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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