2009 Ford Escape Review

Pros & Cons

  • Comfortable interior, peppy performance, Sync voice-control system, impressive safety scores.
  • Lackluster braking compared to rivals, folding down second seat needlessly complex.
List Price Range
$6,495 - $8,515

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Edmunds' Expert Review

With upgrades to its engine and suspension, the 2009 Ford Escape would get our full endorsement were it not for mediocre braking performance.

Vehicle overview

It may be hard to believe, but the Ford Escape compact SUV debuted almost a decade ago. Right out of the gate, this loveable little ute was a front-runner. With its just-right size, peppy available V6, well-balanced chassis and tough looks, it stood out in a class of chiefly dull four-cylinder entrants. It's been a strong seller for Ford, often to the point of being the best-selling compact SUV in America.

Since those earlier glory days, however, the Escape's fortunes haven't been as kind. The competition got bigger and stronger while the Escape soldiered on without a major redesign. But Ford has recently been putting in an effort to keep its Escape relevant. Last year, the Escape received a complete cosmetic makeover, lending the ute a tougher look more in keeping with Ford's bigger trucks. But the chassis remained virtually unchanged, apart from the poor decision to change the rear brakes from a disc setup to drum brakes, which hurt the Escape's maximum braking performance.

For 2009, the Ford Escape gets the brawn to match its handsome new duds, including more powerful engines, a new six-speed automatic transmission and a more athletic suspension tuning. This year also brings a capless fuel filler and Ford's Sync system (which allows voice activation of audio, navigation and phone functions). Cruise control and antilock brakes, formerly optional on the lower trims, become standard across the line.

The inline-4 sees an increase in size -- up to 2.5 liters versus the previous 2.3 -- which contributes to its greater output, now rated at 170 horsepower. Tweaks to the 3.0-liter V6 bump it up to a stout 240 hp. The new six-speed automatic further optimizes the Escape's performance as well as its fuel economy -- which, according to Ford, goes up 1-2 mpg.

The new engines and transmission handily address previous complaints of merely adequate acceleration and mediocre fuel economy. However, last year's backward step of fitting the Escape with rear drum brakes still stands, and braking performance is subpar. Our testing of an '08 Escape resulted in a best stop from 60 mph taking a very lengthy 154 feet. That distance is about 25 feet longer than the class average and a decidedly poor showing for an ABS-equipped vehicle.

The poor panic braking performance prevents us from giving the 2009 Ford Escape our full endorsement. But it still has a lot going for it in terms of performance, comfort and style. Along with models such as the Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander, Saturn Vue and Toyota RAV4, you'll want to give the Escape a look.

2009 Ford Escape models

The 2009 Ford Escape is a compact crossover SUV that comes in three trim levels: XLS, XLT and Limited. The XLS comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, keyless entry, cruise control, full power accessories, a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. The XLT adds privacy glass, automatic headlights, foglights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, keypad entry, a power driver seat and upgraded cloth upholstery. The top-of-the-line Escape Limited has those features plus color-keyed grille and side mirrors, leather seating, ambient cabin lighting and the Sync system.

Options include a sunroof, an upgraded 320-watt audio system with a subwoofer, a navigation system and, for the XLT, a Sun and Sync package that bundles the moonroof with Sync. 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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2009 Highlights

The 2009 Ford Escape receives under-the-skin changes that complement last year's cosmetic makeover. There's more power underhood and a tweaked suspension for improved handling and ride dynamics. Ford has also added its Sync MP3 player and cell phone interface.

Performance & mpg

All trim levels of the Ford Escape can be had with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. A 171-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine powers all but the Limited, which comes with a 240-hp 3.0-liter V6. The V6 is optional on the XLT. The 2.5 can be fitted with either a five-speed manual transmission (XLS only) or a six-speed automatic. The V6 comes only with the automatic transmission. Properly equipped, the V6 Escape can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

Fuel economy with the four-cylinder, six-speed auto and front-wheel drive is 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. All-wheel drive drops that to 19/25/21. The front-wheel-drive six-cylinder Escape returns an estimated 18/26/21, while all-wheel drive gets 17/24/20.


Antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length head curtain airbags with a rollover sensor are all standard on the 2009 Ford Escape. A reverse-sensing parking system is optional on the Limited.

In government frontal-impact crash tests, the Escape earned a perfect five stars in front and side crash tests. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Escape scored the highest rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset and side tests.


An electric power steering system in the 2009 Ford Escape delivers surprisingly good road feel and response. Although panic brake tests resulted in disappointingly long stopping distances, the pedal furnishes a firm feel with a progressive action in normal, everyday driving. The Escape's handling is commendable, with the SUV remaining flat through corners and composed in quick transitions. This year's tweaks to the suspension result in a smoother ride over small but sharper impacts, something last year's model had trouble with.


Overall, we're impressed with the Escape's cabin. The front seats are well-bolstered and comfortable, and material quality, fit and finish are good for this segment. There's plenty of storage space, including a center console box big enough to swallow a laptop; it also features reconfigurable bins. If you're a heavy user of portable MP3 players or cell phones, the Ford Sync system is a must-have feature. It allows voice control for your phone, the navigation system and the audio system, and in our experience, it works very well.

The Escape's rear seat, although roomy enough for adults, is flat and devoid of recline or fore/aft adjustments. Folding the rear seat down is tricky, 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 2009 Ford Escape.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

8 years and going strong
Texas Chemist,04/04/2016
XLT 4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl 6A)
I bought my Escape used in Sep 2010 to replace my 98 Grand Prix. These are the only two vehicles I've ever owned and I've been driving 15 years. The Escape is a challenge to rate for two main reasons: It is extremely reliable, has almost no mechanical issues, is smooth and fluid on the road and provides almost everything I need as far as cargo and transportation goes. On the other hand, it is uncomfortable to sit in. I mean, the seats are not good. In 6 years I've yet to get the seat/steering position perfect. My legs get cramped up or my back starts to hurt a little after only 20 minutes of driving. But this thing is so smooth and nice on the road, the road noise is low (compared to my wife's Civic which is ridiculously loud), and the steering is so soft and fluid you can control the the vehicle with a single finger. Other than some pretty stupid interior design (center stack mainly) and cheap materials, as well as an occasionally jerky transmission the vehicle is near perfect. Pros: - Extremely reliable - Drives very well - Easy to control - Excellent in snow/ice/rain - Great exterior styling Cons: - Jerky transmission when starting from a stop - Horrible interior stying/center stack design - Cheap plastic materials inside - Very uncomfortable seats - Lack of telescoping steering UPDATE: After 8 years of ownership my Escape is still performing really well. Non-routine maintenance is increasing in frequency, as would be expected, but the biggest expense to date was replacing some suspension components on the front end. No major mechanical issues have come up and the majority of expense is spent on routine maintenance, the most being spark plugs ($400), front brakes ($350) and a 100,000 mile tune up ($400). The biggest issue now is the rear passenger wheel well is rusting underneath and on the outside and there is rusting on the roof above the driver side where the windshield and roof meet. Other than that, this thing is doing really well with over 125,000 miles and I will likely drive it until it has close to 200,000.
Awesome little SUV
XLT 4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl 6A)
I love this truck! I bought this with 33k miles to replace a Durango I could no longer afford to feed. It was an adjustment to go that small. I chose the Escape because it had the most interior room of the small SUV's. I'm 6'5 and I sit comfortably in it for an 8 hour drive twice a month. I have the XLT V-6. I get 28mpg round trip on that drive and I see 33 in certain spots where I behave with the throttle. It now has 75k miles on it and the only thing I have touched is the oil and transmission fluid and a new set of tires. Most dependable vehicle I've ever owned. And it pulls a 3050lbs RV and gets 12mpg doing it. I've been offroading in WV with it and even just 2wd, it holds its own.
Too many breakdowns!
XLT 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6A)
I bought this vehicle new in the summer of 2009. About a month later the Transmission failed. It took a month and a half to repair because of back ordered parts. After the rebuild, the shift pattern was messed up and had to go back for reprogramming. This was all within 15,000 miles and covered by warranty. After warranty, the a/c condenser failed. $900 there. Then the power steering unit failed. This isn't a standard power steering unit either. In other words, $1400 more. I've also had some sort of an mid shaft axle support bearing fail. $400 more. All in all, I have put nearly $3000 in repairs into a 3-1/2 year old vehicle. Way too many mechanical failures. I'm done with Escapes
My Escape is no acception to the reviews
XLS 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 6A)
I read on the internet that the 2009 Ford Escape 6 speed trans has problems.I thought that this is not going to happen to the vehicle I purchase.Well much to my surprise I had to have trans work on my vehicle at 29000 miles.Very slow shifting from reverse to drive.Now I noticed that it has a ticking sound like a vehicle with bad lifters in an old car.The dealer does not seem to hear it ,I must be hullucinating.Loud exhaust and a growling sound when driving uphill.Got rid of a 11 yr old Chevy Tacker and it was a much quieter than this 2 yr old vehicle.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 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
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2009 Ford Escape

Used 2009 Ford Escape Overview

The Used 2009 Ford Escape is offered in the following submodels: Escape SUV. Available styles include XLS 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 6A), XLT 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6A), XLT 4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl 6A), XLT 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6A), XLT 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 6A), Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6A), Limited 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 6A), XLS 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6A), Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6A), Limited 4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl 6A), and XLS 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 5M). Pre-owned Ford Escape models are available with a 2.5 L-liter gas engine or a 3.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 240 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2009 Ford Escape comes with front wheel drive, and all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed automatic. The Used 2009 Ford Escape comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2009 Ford Escape?

Price comparisons for Used 2009 Ford Escape trim styles:

  • The Used 2009 Ford Escape XLT is priced between $6,495 and$8,515 with odometer readings between 110534 and148526 miles.
  • The Used 2009 Ford Escape Limited is priced between $8,100 and$8,100 with odometer readings between 129158 and129158 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 2009 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) 2009 Ford Escape for sale near. There are currently 5 used and CPO 2009 Escapes listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $6,495 and mileage as low as 110534 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 2009 Ford Escape.

Can't find a used 2009 Ford Escapes you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Ford Escape for sale - 12 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $19,751.

Find a used Ford for sale - 4 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $11,694.

Find a used certified pre-owned Ford Escape for sale - 1 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $20,288.

Find a used certified pre-owned Ford for sale - 9 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $14,056.

Should I lease or buy a 2009 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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