Plan your Escape strategy
People reckoned Ford focused too much on the Territory at the expense of the smaller SUV
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, as new and better SUVs overtook it.
Part of the problem was that Ford was doing its best to flog the Territory and didn’t push its smaller SUV.
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 update was that Ford dropped the thirsty 3.0-litre V6, leaving the Mazda-sourced 2.3-litre four-cylinder as the only choice, coupled to a four-speed automatic transmission.
The on-demand all-wheel drive primarily turned the front wheels. If they started to slip, up to 50 per cent of drive went to the rear.
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, tail-lights and alloy wheels and indicators in the rear view mirrors. Interior finishes and trim also got a touch-up.
It was feared that dropping the V6 would leave the Escape gasping for go. It wasn’t sports car swift but there was sufficient urge to make it a nice, comfortable driver.
If there was a downside it was the four-speed automatic transmission the Escape was lumbered with.
That apart, the Escape handled quite well and rode with impressive comfort.
At the time, there was a perception that Ford was more interested in pushing the Territory and it wasn’t so worried too about the Escape.
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 shares those traits.
The four-cylinder isn’t as brisk as that of the 3.0-litre.
Another transmission ratio would have improved the fourcylinder’s fuel economy and performance. It was a compromise — the V6’s fuel consumption was one of the things earlier Escape owners complained about.
Dennis Clarke bought his Escape second-hand in 2012 when it had done 148,840km. His only complaint is about the automatic transmission, which is hard-shifting when cold and, after it’s warmed up, has trouble selecting gears when downshifting. A Ford dealer has checked it, so too has an automatic transmission mechanic, but neither could find the cause of the problem.
Retired Queensland signwriter David Toal bought his Escape new in 2010 and says it is one of the best cars he’s owned. He likes the comfort, vision, ease of access and carrying capacity. His only complaint is about its relaxed performance on takeoff or when overtaking.
Some owners complain of having to replace the brake rotors at relatively low kilometres, about the same time they have to replace the pads. Most get 40,000km-plus from their brakes.
Most are more than happy with their cars, a good recommendation for anyone thinking of buying an Escape.
Dated design in a market awash with better cars but it’s reliable, comfortable and roomy.