I purchased this car after my wife was in a terrible car accident. I was a little concerned about safety and stayed away from compacts. My wife's grandfather retired from ford so we have a factory discount on Ford vehicles. I looked into some of the midsized cars like the Taurus but noticed that the Escape was equally priced and had comparable fuel highway mileage. We test drove the 4 and 6 cylinder. I've got to say, anyone who buys the 4 cylinder is out of their mind. That car is way underpowered. We had troubles overtaking vehicles on 95.
The 6 cylinder was great. It had fantastic acceleration and handled like a sportscart. Despite it's height, I thought it did exceptionally well on corners and tight curves. One thing I didn't like was the fact that the 6 wasn't equipped with a stick (grrrr). But looking back, I'm glad that it wasn't. This car is such a pleasure to drive that we use it for all out road trips rather than my Escort.
The 4X4 is engaged automatically. I'm from the old school of walking out and locking a hub, so this fancy transaxle stuff has me mystified. It seems to work ok when we get on really loose gravel, but don't ask me how it works. We also upgraded to the sports package. Leather seats, retractable rack and sweat sound system with 6 disc changer.
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