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#12

in 2011 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $12,453 - $19,371
Original MSRP: $21,240 - $33,080
MPG: 23 City / 28 Hwy
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2011 Ford Escape Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The Escape offers performance that is subpar even among SUVs. Acceleration is adequate at best, as is handling. Reviewers like the Escape’s refined six-speed automatic transmission, but comment on ride quality that is choppier than many competitors.

  • "The Escape still isn't as calm-riding as the Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V, the two most dominant players in the segment." -- Car and Driver
  • "Still, today's Escape rides rougher than newer rivals. Its handling isn't as fluid, its engines not particularly smooth. Poor isolation from road and mechanical vibration are additional geriatric drawbacks" -- Iguida
  • "That new six speed goes out of its way to make the engine seem like a superstar. Combined with the anti-roll bar in the back, the new Escape V6 is... dare I say it? Kinda fun to drive. With the added power and defeated traction control, you can actually get a little tail happy with this thing." -- Jalopnik

Acceleration and Power

The base XLS Escape model comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 171 horsepower and is paired with a five-speed manual transmission or optional six-speed automatic. The XLT and Limited models come with the same engine but upgrade to the six-speed automatic transmission. They are also available with a 3.0-liter 240-horsepower V6, which is a $1,000 option. Reviewers however say that unless you plan on towing, the base engine should be powerful enough for most drivers.

The Escape’s fuel economy is good for its class. According to the EPA, a front-wheel drive (FWD) four-cylinder model should net 22/28 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission and 21/28 mpg with the optional automatic. All-wheel drive (AWD) four-cylinder models net 20/26 mpg with the automatic. The V6 FWD model is rated at 19/25 mpg, while the AWD model is rated at 18/23 mpg.

It’s difficult to find a competitor that has better fuel economy and costs less than the Escape, but the Hyundai Tucson does. It costs about $2,000 less and earns two more miles per gallon on the highway (its city fuel economy is the same as the Escape’s). Its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine even boasts five more horsepower than the Escape’s base engine.

  • "In testing, we found a V6-equipped model delivered adequate power, but nothing more, including 0-60-mph acceleration in a middling 8.1 seconds." -- Edmunds
  • "When equipped with the 6-speed automatic, the four-cylinder produces reasonably strong acceleration -- certainly enough to satisfy most daily driving conditions." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "The larger 3.0-liter V6 was recently improved, gaining a higher compression ratio that added an additional 40 horsepower. The 3.0-liter provides better acceleration and the ability to tow up to 3,500 pounds, but its city fuel economy ratings only reach the high teens." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The six-speed automatic (a five-speed manual remains standard with the four) smoothens the power delivery, and there's none of the hunting for gears of the old 2.3-liter/four-speed auto combo." -- Motor Trend

Handling and Braking

Reviewers criticize the brakes of the 2011 Ford Escape, as well as its handling. While some find the ride comfortable, others find it choppy.

  • "The Escape's high point is its car-like handling, definitely augmented this year by the addition of a rear sway bar. It's still a tall-in-the-saddle SUV, so body roll is felt more than in a sedan, but the steering is direct and the naturally supple ride well-damped for a reassuring feel." -- MSN
  • "Ride quality is impressive in all models, and the suspension's compliance soaks up big potholes and surface irregularities surprisingly well." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "For the first time, the Escape gets a rear anti-roll bar, and combined with the re-tuned springs and dampers, as well as new tires, the handling of the CUV feels much more composed." -- Autoblog
  • "Unfortunately, the Escape is hampered by poor braking performance. From 60 mph, the last Escape we tested stopped in a lackluster 138 feet. Brake fade was also encountered, with stopping distances increasing with each run thereafter." -- Edmunds

Next Steps: 2011 Ford Escape

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