Thursday, December 5, 2013

Used Car Review - Ford Escape (2002-2013)

On the seventh day of Christmas Myk Belmonte gave to me... seven Ford Escapes.

2002-2013 Ford Escape

Ford Motor Company realized it cannot rely more on its larger SUVs for profits. The Expedition is too large and the Explorer faced controversies, so raking in to the smallest and hottest segment is deemed prudent. It was a risk worth going for, since people aren't interested on driving a large SUV on a daily basis.

With Ford realizing that most SUV owners do not take their vehicles off-road, a monocoque car based platform is used with an AWD system by Dana was thrown in for emergency purposes. The result: the Ford Escape and its Mazda Tribute twin. Bet you didn't know that this was sold as the Ford Maverick in Europe to lukewarm success since it didn't offer one item that Europeans love: a diesel engine. A 2007 update had the Asian and American versions be treated to different designs which enabled them to have their own distinct personality. The American version was redesigned in 2012 with the Asian version following suit.

As part of Ford Motor Company Philippines export program, they've decided to add the Escape to the line-up to compliment their hulking SUVs and vans. This competed with industry stalwarts whose names are CR-V, RAV4, and Grand Vitara as well as new entrants Outlander and X-Trail. It found units in Filipino garages unlike the Tribute. For most of its selling life, XLS (usually in 2WD) and XLT models were sold with a bevy of updates done which will be explained later.

Value and Costs
Since Ford Escapes are now difficult to find in Ford dealers with the Ecosport replacing it within this month or next year, going to the second hand route is the only way. Since changes were minimal, go with the condition rather than a year model. The latter, however, produced engines which warrants your consideration and must be avoided. Prices for a second hand unit falls between P270,000-P745,000 and go with a February 2011 or later unit to grab the remainder of the warranty.

Maintenance costs are easy to the pocket, that's if we compare it to the Escape's rivals. Fuel consumption isn't a strong suit since the 2.0 is overtaxed by the body and the 3.0 V6 is, well, fuel thirsty by nature. Some owners have faced problems with the automatic transmission but you'll find a well maintained unit if you work hard.

Exterior and Interior
Models made before January 2007 are treated to a rugged touch. It may be small but still retains its presence available in its larger siblings. The wheel arches are large that makes it large yet remains clean looking overall. Updates in 2007 and September 2008 made the Escape softer looking that looks good for the urban jungle while retaining its trademark shell.

Unlike rivals whose occupants would feel uncomfortable due to their tight portions, the Escape gives out comfortable seating for five people. 2007 and later units have a floor mounted shifter which is more practical than the column mounted of previous ones. Controls for the audio and climate are within reach of the driver but changing the temperature can be confusing since the fan speed is separate from the on/off switch while the temperature switch is useless for some. The rear seat tray, similar to airplanes, is standard and makes meal time while traveling an enjoyable experience. Oh, before we leave, cargo space is decent enough.

Offered from August 2002 to July 2004 is the Zeta 1,980cc that carries 130hp at 5,400rpm and 183Nm at 4,500rpm that can be had with a manual transmission. Replacing this is the Duratec 23 2,261cc having 157hp at 6,000rpm and 200Nm at 4,000rpm and is the common engine among Philippine market Escapes. Offered from October 2003 until December 2006 is the icing of the Escape cake: the Duratec 2,967cc V6 with 206hp at 6,000rpm and 276Nm at 4,750rpm. All of these engines are gasoline powered, so head to the Hyundai Tucson if you want a diesel engine. When it comes to real world performance, the 2.0 is decent with the manual and asthmatic with the automatic if pushed hard. The 3.0 V6 is both fast in terms of acceleration and fuel consumption. For best of both worlds, choose the 2.3 since it offers decent acceleration and better fuel economy.

Driving Impressions
It may look like an SUV but the driving feel is similar to a car, which is a good thing. Expect understeers though when driven at high speeds. For models equipped with AWD, when the system detects some slipping, power is distributed to the rear wheels. The system can be locked for the whole time and adds some security and stability.

One of the outstanding choices in the compact SUV category, that's if you choose the right engine. Oodles of space for both driver and passenger with a reliable and durable chassis. There was no wonder it sold longer without any flashy designs or amenities, just the basics.

The Good:
  • Spacious cabin
  • Cheap to buy
  • Durable
The Bad:
  • No diesel engine
  • Fuel thirsty V6
  • Limited manuals available
The Pick: 2.3 XLS

Engines: 1,980cc Zeta and 2,261cc Duratec 23 4-cylinder and 2,967cc Duratec 30 V6 gasoline
Power: 130hp @ 5,400rpm (2.0), 157hp @ 6,000rpm (2.3), 206hp @ 6,000rpm (3.0)
Torque: 183Nm @ 4,500rpm (2.0), 200Nm @ 4,000rpm (2.3), 276Nm @ 4,750rpm (3.0)
Fuel Consumption: 4-8km/L (city), 7-10km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual (2002-2004), 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut, rear independent multi-link

Price (New): P950,000-P1,350,000
Price (Now): P270,000-P745,000
Rivals: Chevrolet Captiva, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Mazda Tribute, Mazda CX-7, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan X-Trail, Subaru Forester, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Toyota RAV4
On Sale: 2002-2013

Ford Libis - (02) 637-2044
Ford EDSA - (02) 744-2222
Ford Global City - (02) 860-8888

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