The 2011 Ford Escape is a compact crossover SUV with an attractive design, oodles of high-tech goodies, lively engines and top-notch crash safety ratings.
In addition to its popular looks and overall capable driving demeanor, Ford's exceptional hands-free Sync system (operates your cell phone, iPod/MP3 player and the optional navigation system via voice controls) is also available in the Escape. And if you decide to include the navigation system, Sync also provides real-time updates for traffic, weather, movie times, sport scores and more.
And not sitting idly, this year Ford has added its MyKey system as a new standard feature, allowing parents of teen drivers to electronically limit vehicle speed as well as sound system volume. And do you hate to parallel-park? Also new is an optional technology that identifies an appropriate parking spot and then turns in automatically, while the driver only operates the gas and brake pedals.
While the new Ford Escape has much going for it, it's also a good idea to check out the competition to help make an informed decision. And there are some worthy rivals out there that may have taken over the edge in terms of overall refinement and versatility in recent years. Those shopping this segment may also want to consider other top compact SUVs such as the as the Chevy Equinox, the Honda CR-V, the Nissan Rogue and the Toyota RAV4.
Trims, Standard Features And Options:
The 2011 Ford Escape is a 5-passenger compact crossover SUV offered in three trims: XLS, XLT and Limited (the 2011 Ford Escape Hybrid will be covered separately).
Standard features on the already well-equipped base XLS include power windows, power doorlocks, power mirrors, air conditioning, cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, the MyKey parental control system, an exterior mirror with an integrated blind-spot viewing surface and a 4-speaker audio system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack. Available options for the XLT include the Sync electronics interface, which also includes Bluetooth and an iPod interface, and steering-wheel audio controls.
The Escape XLT then adds a 6-way power driver seat, foglamps, steering-wheel audio controls, automatic headlights, foglamps, satellite radio and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Also available on the XLT is the Sun & Sync package that adds the Sync system and a sunroof, while the Sport Appearance package adds 17-inch wheels and a number of interior and exterior trim upgrades. There's also an available Leather package that includes leather upholstery, heated front seats and ambient lighting. An upgraded 7-speaker stereo system is also available as a stand-alone option.
Moving up to the Escape Limited then adds leather upholstery, the Sync system, heated front seats, different 16-inch wheels, chrome highlights and a 6-speaker sound system. Also available is a Limited Luxury package that includes a rearview camera, rear parking sensors and dual-zone automatic climate control, while the Moon and Tune package adds a sunroof and the upgraded 7-speaker stereo system.
There's also stand-alone options for the Limited that include a rear entertainment system, the automated parallel-parking system and a navigation system which includes the upgraded audio system with HD radio capability, Sirius Travel Link (real-time traffic, weather and other information) and digital music storage.
Engines, Powertrain And Gas Mileage:
All Ford Escape models are offered with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The standard engine powering the 2011 Escape is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 171 horsepower. Also optional on all but the XLS is a 3.0-liter V6 that's good for 240 horsepower. The four-cylinder engine can be paired with either a 5-speed manual transmission (only on the XLS) or a 6-speed automatic. V6 models come only with the 6-speed automatic, and when properly equipped, have a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds.
The EPA-estimated gas mileage for a front-wheel-drive Escape with the four-cylinder and 6-speed automatic is 20 mpg city and 28 mpg on the highway. An all-wheel drive version is rated at 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. Gas mileage for the front-wheel-drive V6 Escape stands at 18 city and 26 highway, while the all-wheel-drive comes in at 17 and 24, respectively.
Standard safety features for all 2011 Escapes include stability control, traction control, antilock brakes (ABS), front-seat side airbags and full-length curtain-type airbags.
And the Escape excelled in government crash testing, scoring a perfect five out of five stars in every front-impact and side-impact category for occupant protection.
Incidentally, here's an infographic on the 12 automakers who've been giving the best new car deals off MSRP (includes Ford).
The 2011 Ford Escape's cabin is well-designed, attractive and user-friendly, thanks to a total redsign several years ago which upgraded the materials and made appealing revisions to the layout. The instruments and gauges are well-placed and easy to see while driver visibility is also very good.
The seating is comfortable and supportive, however, not everyone likes the high seating position up front. The steering wheel also does not telescope which can be an issue for some drivers. And while the rear seating is generally comfortable, it doesn't recline or have forward or backward adjustments which would allow for additional passenger or cargo space.
The Escape's cargo capacity behind the backseat is a useful 29 cubic feet and can be expanded to 66 cubes with the backseat folded down.
The 2011 Ford Escape has a compliant and confident drive, although it lacks some of the refinement of top competitors. Acceleration with either engine is peppy but not outstanding, while the suspension smooths out rough roads better than older models. Overall, most drivers will likely be satisfied with the Escape's road manners, but other top compact crossovers have the edge in the "smooth and quiet" department and some, like the Equinox and RAV4, have a bit more power.
How To Get The Lowest Price:
Best Negotiating Tactic: Well, there's definitely a 'best way' when it comes to new car buying. If you want to get the best bottomline, out-the-door price you need to know exactly who to talk to at the dealership, how to make the contact and how to make this person eager to quickly drop prices as low as possible to get your sale.
Those of you in the market for a used car may want to check out this article about how to buy a used car at the lowest price. It details a super effective buying method, one that often beats down prices to wholesale levels.
And somewhat related to this, here's another excellent method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.
In addition, you can also try Public Car And Government Auto Auctions in your own geographic area. While there can be a lot of junk vehicles at these auctions, there are often absolute gems sprinkled in as well. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them at no cost in your own area.
Prices: 2011 Ford Escape
XLS, FWD: list price: $21,060, invoice price: $19,960
XLS, AWD: list price: $22,810, invoice price: $21,570
XLT, FWD: list price: $24,050, invoice price: $22,471
XLT, AWD: list price: $25,800, invoice price: $24,063
Limited, FWD: list price: $25,630, invoice price: $23,908
Limited, AWD: list price: $27,380, invoice price: $25,500