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2005 Ford Escape Compact Sport Utility Vehicle

New Car Review Of The 2005 Ford Five Hundred Mid-Size Sedan

Base MSRP Range: $19,265 - $26,365

Base Invoice Range: $18,097 - $26,314

MSRP As Tested: $27,525

Versions: XLS, XLT, Limeted, Hybrid

Vehicle Category: Compact Sport Utility Vehicle

Engine Location: Front Engine

Drive Wheels: Front-Wheel Drive, All-Wheel Drive .

Standard Engine: 2.3-liter, Dual Overhead Cam, 16-valves, I-4, 153- horsepower at 5800 rpm and 153 lb-ft torque at 4250 rpm.

Optional Engine as Tested: 3.0-liter, DOHC, 24 valves, V-6, 200-horsepower at 6000 rpm, 196 lb-ft torque at 4850 rpm.

Optional Hybrid Engine : 2.3-liter, DOHC, 16 valves, Electric I-4, 133-horsepower at 6000 rpm, 129 lb-ft torque at 4500 rpm.

Transmission: Four-speed automatic, Five-speed manual, CVT automatic.

Fuel Economy (city/hwy): Five-speed manual 22/26, Four-speed automatic 19/22, CVT automatic 33/29.

Standard Safety Features: Driver and passenger airbags, ">Four-wheel anti-lock brake system.

Competition: Honda CR-V, Jeep Liberty, Mazda Tribute, Saturn Vue, Subaru Forester.

Thanks to its near-perfect mix of price, handling and style, the Ford Escape has been a hit since it was introduced in 2001.

No matter. It's already time for a new one, Ford says.

Thanks to ferocious competition in the mini-SUV market - including some very strong offerings from America, Japan and Korea - Ford significantly updated the popular Escape for the 2005 model year. It follows the same basic formula as the first Escape, only with a little more style and refinement.

While ford calls the new Escape redesigned, it's actually more like a mild facelift of the old model than full reconstructive surgery. And that's a good thing.

The 2005 Escape has new headlights, fog lamps, front and rear fascias, grille, wheels and bumpers, but the overall look is only subtly different from the popular older model. There are also four new paint colors to pick from.

But the best changes are beneath the skin.

For starters, a new 2.3-liter Duratec four-cylinder engine replaces the wimpier base engine in the 2004 model to make 153 horsepower. It's also significantly smoother and more responsive than the four-cylinder powerplant it replaces, and you can get it with an automatic transmission. Before now, you could only get the base engine with a stick-shift tranny.

The same powerful, smooth 3.0-liter V6 engine is carried over from last year, which isn't disappointing. It makes 200 horsepower and 193 pound-feet of torque, or enough to tow up to 3,500 pounds with the right equipment. No complaints here.

Inside, the 2005 Escape features nicer materials than the old model, but you still won't mistake it for a luxury car. Ford took what was already a good interior and made it better, with a floor-mounted shifter, new gauges, more storage space and upgraded seat cushions and fabrics.

The Escape further benefits from what Ford calls "major engineering efforts" to silence the cabin. New sound-absorbing panels and tighter sealing measures reduce interior noise, making highway trips much more comfortable.

Of course, the new Escape has the same comfy, car-like ride that made it so popular initially. It doesn't feel bouncy or truck-like at all, instead seeming to float down the road like a good mid-size sedan.

One of the Escape's best new features - and the one you're least likely to notice on a test drive - is its new automatic transmission. It not only feels remarkably smooth and responsive, but it also offers more efficiency and better traction in slippery conditions than the model it replaces. It's definitely one of the best on the market.

Not only does the Escape's new look give it a tad more style, but Ford says it's safer, as well. Revisions to the body structure have improved performance in some types of frontal collisions, Ford claims, and standard weight-sensing technology on the front passenger side helps make airbag deployment safer. Ford's Safety Canopy system is designed to protect occupants in rollover crashes, too.

On the downside, if you want to take your SUV on serious off-road adventures, the Escape still isn't for you. Unlike the rugged Jeep Liberty and Nissan Xterra, the Escape is built more for on-road comfort than heavy-duty trips through the Rockies. It has all-wheel drive, but it lacks a truck-like ladder frame and solid axels that true off-road machines need.

Realistically, though, few people need an SUV to leave the pavement. For those people, the Escape impresses with a car-like driving feel, rugged look and pleasant starting price.

Just like it always has.

Pros: It's comfortable, stylish and affordable. It feels like a good mid-size sedan from behind the wheel, but it offers the trendy look and versatile interior of an SUV.

Cons: It still looks a lot tougher than it is. For serious off-road capability, it would need a beefier ladder frame and solid axels like in the Nissan Xterra and Jeep Liberty.

Ratings (1-10)

  • Style: 8
  • Performance: 6
  • Price: 7
  • Handling: 9
  • Ride: 9
  • Comfort: 10
  • Quality: 8
  • Overall: 8

More Data

Where Built: USA

Major Options: Safety and Security package with front and side curtain airbags and rear-obstacle-detection system. Power sunroof, leather upholstery, power adjustable pedals, garage door opener.

Seating: 5.

Number of Rows: 2.

Length in Inches: 174.9

Warranties: 3 years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper, 8/100,000 miles Extended powertrain (Battery Pack), 5 years/unlimited miles corrosion protection, 3 years/36,000 miles Free roadside assistance.

Weight in Pounds: 3340 lbs.

Cargo Capacity in Pounds: Not available.

Gross Maximum Vehicle Weight in Pounds: Not available.

Towing Capacity in Pounds: 1500 lbs. - 2200 lbs. 3500 lbs. with proper equipment.

Gas Tank Capacity in Gallons: 16.5

Destination Charge: $675

2005 Ford Escape Compact Sport Utility Vehicle

New Car Review of the 2005 Ford Escape Compact Sport Utility Vehicle

Description: Compact Sport Utility Vehicle
Base MSRP Range: $19,405 - $28,005
Invoice Price Range: $18,038 - $25,864
Where built: USA

Ford's front-wheel-drive (FWD) crossover wagon foregoes the body-on-frame structure of a truck-based SUV in favor of a monocoque platform that unites chassis and body in a cohesive unit that's rigid in motion. Easy-to-handle driving traits mimic a sedan, but boxy exterior styling works as a wagon, while optional all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction brings tire grip on paved roads as well as dirt trails.

Escape's 2005 issues merit a face-lift with new exterior styling evident, upgrades for appointments in the five-seat cabin and improvements in powertrains. There are now ten equipment configurations sprinkled in trims segmented to XLS, XLT and Limited. One new package -- XLS Blast -- puts 16-inch aluminum wheels on the ground and a six-disc CD changer in the dash.

A new 2.3-liter 4-cylinder base engine pushes 153-hp. For Escape XLT and Limited, the power increases with a 201-horse 3.0-liter V6 connecting to a 4-speed automatic transmission. Also new is the optional AWD system, now with computer intelligence and more fuel-efficient operation.

Anti-lock brakes (ABS) appear on all 2005 trims and Escape adds a new optional safety package with front-seat side air bags plus curtain-style air bags above side windows.