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Used Ford Escape review: 2001-2006

SUVs like the Ford Escape have become firm family favourites having replaced the traditional station wagon and in many cases the regular family four-door.

Launched in 2001 the Escape was Ford’s main weapon in the emerging SUV war before the Territory was launched. It’s now a second-string model to the bigger Territory, but is still a popular compact off-roader with families not wanting or needing the size of the Territory.

MODEL WATCH

The Escape was a close cousin of the Mazda Tribute. Apart from some minor styling changes and specification variations they were essentially the same vehicle. A mid-sized wagon, the Escape was reasonably roomy and would accommodate five in relative comfort. At the time of its launch the interior came in for quite a deal of criticism for its tacky plastics with a mish-mash of clashing tones and textures.

Under the bonnet of all Escape models was a double overhead camshaft 60-degree 3.0-litre V6 engine that punched out peaks of 150 kW at 5900 revs and 266 Nm at 4700 revs. With that sort of punch on tap the Escape had plenty of get up and go when needed. When asked it would accelerate to 100 km/h in a little over 10 secs, and would sprint 400 metres in 17 secs. Backing up the V6 was a four-speed automatic transmission with a rather clunky column shift. For better control when needed it could be shifted manually and the gears could be held so they didn’t upshift at the wrong moment.

Like most compact SUVs the Escape was essentially designed as a high riding front-wheel drive wagon, but with a viscous coupling that directed drive to the rear wheels as required. For more control in adverse conditions a diff-lock could be introduced that locked the coupling at the push of a button and distributed the drive equally between the front and the rear wheels.

On the road the Escape handled all road conditions with poise, and its steering was well weighted and responsive if lacking feel around centre. The ride was comfortable with larger bumps swallowed up with ease and smaller ones dismissed with just a little feedback to those in the cabin.

Ford offered the Escape in a choice of three well-equipped models. The XLS kicked off the range and boasted air, power windows, tilt column, remote central locking, and four-speaker CD sound. Next up line the XLT got cruise, cargo net, driver’s seat height adjustment, a vanity mirror, engine immobiliser, and alarm and fog lamps. Perched atop the range there was the Limited with leather trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel and electric sunroof.

IN THE SHOP

Most Escapes are used for family transport and aren’t subjected to hard offroad use, but check anyway. Outside, check for damage to the paint and body from offroad use on bush tracks, while underneath look for evidence of heavier offroad driving. Look for flattened brackets, battered exhaust hangers, dents in the floorpan, a bashed oil pan and suspension damage. Mechanically there are few reports of trouble; the engine, gearbox and driveline all seem to be standing up well in service.

IN A CRASH

With a capable chassis, decent brakes, and four-wheel drive the Escape has a good active safety package. Early XLS models didn’t have ABS, but all models boasted the important safety system after the 2003 ZA update. All models had dual front airbags, while the Limited also had side airbags for added protection. The rear seat centre passenger had to make do with a lap belt only.

AT THE PUMP

The Escape is most often criticized for its fuel consumption; it’s something a potential buyer should be aware of as many find out only after laying down their hard-earned. Look for 13 L/100 km on average around town and 8-9 L/100 km on the highway, but don’t be surprised to find it doing 14-16 L/100 km in regular use.

OWNERS SAY

Steven Boyle and his wife bought a 2005 ZB Escape XLS with 14,000 km on the clock. They regularly tow a boat weighing around 1400 kg and while they say the fuel consumption rises and the performance drops when the boat is on the back, they say it handles the load well and there’s enough punch left for overtaking. In everyday use they say it is easy to drive, is comfortable, the control layout is good, and longer trips are no strain on either driver or passengers. They say the fit and finish is of a good quality and there are no annoying squeaks or rattles. Their only complaints are that the fuel consumption is high, there’s a slight wind noise from the front drivers side, the cruise control is not very refined, and the factory underbody treatment was not adequate and they had to have it done themselves. Overall they say it does all they ask of it and that it has been very reliable.

Darren Greenwood has had his Escape XLT five years and has done 70,000 trouble free kilometres in it. He was looking for a small to mid-sized wagon when he bought it, but the Escape seemed to be well priced given the equipment it came with. He doesn’t agree with the criticism he’s heard of the column shift and the centre armrest, saying you get used to it and the centre armrest is quite large and useful for storage. The V6, he says, has plenty of punch and averages about 10 L/100 km. It’s done a bit of off roading and been to the snow a few times, although there’s been no serious bush bashing. The handling isn’t up to car standard, but if it’s not pushed too hard you don’t notice it. He says it’s roomy, he likes the high driving position with the visibility it gives, and getting the kids in and out is a breeze.

LOOK FOR
• Gutsy performer, but thirsty
• Roomy inside
• Rides and handles well
• Effective four-wheel drive
• High driving position

THE BOTTOM LINE
• Capable, roomy and gutsy performer, but can be very thirsty.

RATING
70/100

Pricing

Year Price From Price To
2006 $2,800 $6,930
2005 $2,400 $5,390
2004 $2,000 $4,510
2003 $1,850 $4,510
2002 $2,000 $4,620
2001 $2,000 $4,620

View all Ford Escape pricing and specifications

Pricing guides

$3,310
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$2,000
Highest Price
$4,620

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
XLS 3.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,000 – 3,520 2001 Ford Escape 2001 XLS Pricing and Specs
XLS Summer 3.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,700 – 4,620 2001 Ford Escape 2001 XLS Summer Pricing and Specs
XLT 3.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,200 – 3,850 2001 Ford Escape 2001 XLT Pricing and Specs
XLT Summer 3.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,400 – 4,070 2001 Ford Escape 2001 XLT Summer Pricing and Specs
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist

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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.