Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Used Ford Escape ZD review: 2008-2012

Ford Escape ZD
Graham Smith reviews the used Ford Escape ZD SUV 2008-2012, its fine points, its flaws and what to watch for when you are buying it.

You have to evolve if you want to stay ahead of the competition, fail to keep pace and you'll lose. That's what happened to the Ford Escape, which fell away as new and better SUVs overtook it.

Part of the problem for the Escape was that Ford was doing its best to flog the Territory and didn't push its smaller SUV.


Of most significance in the ZD update was that Ford dropped the thirsty 3.0-litre V6 engine from the range

The updated ZD model launched in 2008 was conceived to separate the Escape from the Territory in the hope of generating sales for both models. Of most significance in the ZD update was that Ford dropped the thirsty 3.0-litre V6 engine from the range, leaving the Mazda-sourced 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine as the only choice.

It was coupled to a four-speed automatic transmission, with the on-demand all-wheel drive system distributing the drive between the front and rear wheels as needed for traction.

In most situations it acted like a regular front-wheel drive, until slip was detected at the front wheels when it then started to feed drive to the rear wheels, up to a limit of 50 per cent.

To distinguish the ZD from its predecessors Ford's designers waved a cosmetic wand over it, which resulted in more pronounced, body coloured wheel arches, updated guards, new grille, headlights and taillights, new alloy wheels and indicators in the rear view mirrors. The interior also got a quickie touch up with new finishes and new trim.

Although it was feared that dropping the 3.0-litre V6 would leave the Escape gasping for go, it wasn't as desperate as some thought. It wasn't sports car swift, but it still had sufficient go to make it a nice, comfortable driver.

If there was a downside it was the four-speed automatic transmission the Escape was lumbered with. Another gear would have served it well. That aside the Escape handled quite well and rode with impressive comfort.


Being based on the Mazda Tribute gives the Escape a degree of mechanical credibility. Mazda engines, gearboxes and chassis are generally robust and reliable, and reports from owners and the trade tell us that the Escape is equally reliable.

There was some thought that the Escape would be lacking performance when the V6 was dropped from the ZD range but it wasn't as bad as feared. Sure, the performance of the four-cylinder wasn't as brisk as that of the 3.0-litre, but the V6's fuel consumption was one of the things Escape owners complained about with the previous models. With the V6 gone, so too was one of the main reasons to complain.

The four-cylinder offered decent performance although it was held back somewhat by the four-speed auto gearbox it was stuck with. Had it had another ratio it would have been a much more attractive car, but there was the perception that Ford was more interested in pushing the Territory and it wasn't so worried too about the Escape.

Of our owners only one made anything like a serious complaint and that related to the auto transmission, which was reported to be having trouble with hard gear shifting.

Some owners complain of having to replace the brake rotors at relatively low kays, about the same time they have to replace the pads. Most get 40,000-plus kays from their brakes, which is similar to what you might expect from a car today.

Most are more than happy with their cars, a good recommendation for anyone thinking of buying an Escape. Check for a service record to confirm your chosen car has been properly maintained.


Year Price From Price To
2012 $7,200 $11,220
2011 $6,600 $10,230
2010 $6,000 $9,350
2009 $5,400 $8,360
2008 $4,600 $9,460

View all Ford Escape pricing and specifications

Pricing guides

Based on 23 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
Highest Price

Range and Specs

(base) 2.3L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $4,600 – 7,370 2008 Ford Escape 2008 (base) Pricing and Specs
Limited V6 3.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $6,100 – 9,460 2008 Ford Escape 2008 Limited V6 Pricing and Specs
XLS 2.3L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $5,000 – 7,700 2008 Ford Escape 2008 XLS Pricing and Specs
XLT 2.3L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $4,600 – 7,480 2008 Ford Escape 2008 XLT Pricing and Specs
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist


Other cars to consider

2008 Mitsubishi Outlander
2008 Mitsubishi Outlander

2008 Mitsubishi Outlander

Price guide from: $4,990 – $13,990
2008 Subaru Forester
2008 Subaru Forester

2008 Subaru Forester

Price guide from: $4,990 – $18,000
2008 Kia Sportage
2008 Kia Sportage

2008 Kia Sportage

Price guide from: $5,850 – $8,995
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.