2008 Ford Escape XLT Review

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2008 Ford Escape XLT Review & Road Test

Has Escape had one too many facelifts?

Drives Well, Good Ride & Handling, Pleasant Interior
Poor Four Speed Auto, Aging Looks, Lack of Torque

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- by Matt Brogan

But as long in the tooth as it may well be, it’s still a decent and relevant car, and from an aesthetic perspective, is probably your last chance to grab a more traditionally styled soft roader from Ford before the funky new-age Kuga arrives late next year.

This fourth iteration of the Escape a Taiwanese built version of Mazda’s now retired Tribute, albeit with a re-modelled nose and tailgate. The idea being to move the appearance in-line with Ford’s kinetic design principles, as seen in (LV) Focus, (MA) Mondeo, and (FG) Falcon for a more instantly recognisable family image.

Trivial issues aside though Escape has a pleasant cabin, simple in its function and very easy to live with, especially for those with kids and/or pets, without being overly agricultural and plastic as some soft-roaders tend to be. It’s also surprisingly quiet for an SUV which makes for a better experience on longer highway trips.

Despite a solid engine, the four-speed transmission feels a little dead and has a habit of stumbling into gear. It's also slow to react, especially on kick down. A good hard stab to the floor will eventually see the desired result but by then you may have missed a chance to pass, not a desirable trait on the open road. Still, around town it is bearable and with the overdrive switched off Escape can keep pace in fast flowing city traffic.

With a standard recipe strut front/multi-link rear-end suspension set up Escape is compliant, comfortable and easy to maneuver. A turning circle of 10.8 metres and good all round visibility makes it simple to park, as well as swift in responding to the rigors of being thrown around suburban streets and car parks.

Perhaps indicative of Escape's age though there is no auxiliary audio socket for your iPod, no Bluetooth connectivity, no self locking doors, no trip computer, no auto wipers and no dusk sensing headlamps meaning the rivals may have the edge when it comes to ticking boxes.

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