Excluding the Hybrid, estimated fuel economy ranges from 22 in the city to 28 on highways for the four-cylinder and manual to 17 and 24 for the V-6 with the automatic and AWD (or 18 and 26 with front-drive).
My test Escape had the four-cylinder, automatic transmission and rear-drive. Its economy is a respectable 20 city, 28 highway -- figures that dip to 19 and 25 with AWD. It had far stronger highway performance than last year's four-cylinder, which didn't have much punch above 60 mph. However, the new four isn't as smooth or quiet as the more-potent V-6.
All engines require only regular-grade fuel.
The carlike Escape is enjoyable to drive and has a handy size that helps allow it to be called a crossover vehicle. Its speed-sensitive electric power steering, which improves fuel economy, provides good control, and a small turning radius helps low-speed maneuvering in tight spots. The ride is firm but supple, and handling is sharp. Progressive brake action enables smooth stops.
Large outside door handles are easily grasped. So are smaller inside ones, although they look like they're made from rather cheap plastic. Sliding in and out calls for a little extra effort, but narrow rear door openings hamper entry and exit a little. The front bucket seats provide especially good support, and the Escape comfortably seats five tall adults.
Main gauges can be easily read, but the fuel and coolant temperature gauges are too small. Power window controls on the driver's door are nicely placed to help accidentally prevent opening a rear window instead of a front one.
Front/rear cupholders are easily reached. But while climate controls are large, radio controls are small -- although they can be used fairly easily after you become accustomed to them.
The front console storage bin is deep, but the glove compartment doesn't hold much besides the owner's manual. Front doors have decent-sized storage pockets, but rear door pockets are practically useless.
The large cargo area has a moderately high opening. Its tailgate has an opening top glass section to allow quick loading of small objects. Rear seatbacks can be flipped forward easily to increase the cargo area, but don't sit flat.
The Escape lacks the personality and refinement of some rivals, such as the Volkswagen Tiguan, but gets high marks for overall competence. Jedlicka's Take: 2009 Ford Escape Price:
Carlike, roomy. More power. Lively acceleration. Nicely sized. Better automatic transmission. Snappier Hybrid model.
Older design. Some tiny gauges. Rear seatbacks don't fold flat. Rather plain interior. Narrow rear door openings.