The Ford Escape rolled off the line for the 2001 model year as a compact crossover SUV. It was designed with an independent suspension along with rack-and-pinion steering, as Ford decided to build the model with a monocoque chassis for car-like handling. The model was initially outfitted with a 2.0L four-cylinder engine capable of approximately 130 horsepower mated to a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. A 3.0L Duratec V6 was offered as well, showing off around 200 horsepower directed through the four-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive was standard; however, all-wheel drive was made available as an option. The Ford Escape parts and the model itself made an impression right from the beginning. The SUV was nominated for Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best List and named a Consumer Guide Recommended Buy (2001). 2004 welcomed in the Ford Escape Hybrid. Rated as 75% more fuel efficient according to the EPA, the Escape Hybrid uses an Atkinson cycle internal combustion engine for its power source and even offers a 110-volt AC plug-in outlet as an option.
In 2005, the original 2.0L engine was replaced by a 2.3L four-cylinder upgrade that produced an extra 23 horsepower while the automatic transmission became available for the first time on the base four-cylinder versions of the Escape. Several other changes took place for 2005. Intelligent all-wheel drive and upgraded seatbelts and airbags were also implemented. On models geared up with an automatic transmission, the shifter was relocated to the console from the column while in all models, Ford discontinued the reclining ability on the rear seats as a safety measure in case of an accident. At this point, the Ford Escape was already distributed in Europe under various badges (such as the Maverick) and showed off many of the same changes for 2005 as the domestic Escape while introducing the Duratec V6 for the first time.
The Ford Escape parts saw another crop of changes take place for the 2008 model year. Unveiled at the 2007 Los Angeles International Auto Show, the Ford Escape was the recipient of the redesigned accessories and parts. Still based off of the CD2 platform along with the Mazda Tribute and Mercury Mariner, the Ford Escape was adorned with a larger front-end grille, bigger headlights, and a revamped interior that included the addition of a new navigation system. The base engine was boosted to a 2.5L Duratec four-cylinder, increasing horsepower to 171. The 3.0L V6 was also improved to 240 horsepower and 230 pounds-per-foot of torque. A year later, rear spoilers for the rear tires and front-end were added, as were optional 17” chrome alloy wheels perched on Michelin Low-Rolling tires. The model has received attention throughout the industry in recent years, including being named a Best New Truck by AMI Auto World Magazine (2006), an Intellichoice Best Overall Value (2008), and a Consumer Digest Best Buy (2009).
The Ford Escape is a "game changer." The first in its class to be offered as a hybrid, the Ford Escape makes news in more ways than one. Outstanding comfort awaits inside the vehicle, providing the space and components that designate it as a SUV without neglecting its "compact" status. A smooth, contouring interior and delightfully aero shaped exterior make the Escape as stylish as it is logical. The Ford Escape knows no limitations, and its drivers understand the value and fashion this vehicle presents.
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