There’s always the odd one out in a family, the member who just doesn’t fit. Maybe their hair is a different colour or they manage to laugh at the wrong things at get togethers. It’s hard to fault them for not fitting in, but at the same time, you can be put off by the experience.
That has always been the sense that we get with the Ford Escape. It’s an aged design that is still sold even though dealers and Ford of Australia are desperately trying to get the Kuga, a European-designed hatch, over here. It’s not that we dislike the Escape by any means, we just don’t really see the point of it.
You get a 2.3 litre 4-cylinder with the base model, which is enough for to move the mini-Territory, although you won’t exactly be known as a speed demon in your town. The numbers are moderate and unsurprising, 109kW of power, 199Nm of torque and a fuel consumption rate just shy of 10L/100km.
Unlike some other utes, the Escape admits to being a soft-roader, and the independent rear suspension highlights this fact, with a ride that can be stiff at times but also more composed than others in the class. It tracks well on long straights, and while the higher center of gravity makes it a bit interesting in turns, the seats are well-done enough that one barely notices the bit of lean it offers.
The interior is a bit bare, but unlike other Fords this isn’t a question of design so much as a lack of amenities. We understand that at less than $34,000 to start, it’s a bit unfair to ask a lot of it. But the stereo system feels slightly underpowered considering you can put in six CDs and attach an MP3 player.
On the other hand, you do get the ability to recline the rear seats, power windows all around unlike the Mondeo or the Fiesta Econetic, as well as available four-wheel drive. You also can’t fault the Escape for safety, knowing that it has anti-lock brakes with electronic force distribution, and airbags aplenty for the front row of occupants, netting a four star rating from ANCAP.
It’s also spacious enough, with 935 litres of cargo capacity if you’ve got a couple people in back, and close to 1800 litres if you put the rear row of seats down. The swing net and cargo blind help keep things in order as well.
We actually tried to think of a target demographic for the 2010 Escape, and we hit upon exactly one type of buyer. If you’re the kind of man or woman who goes on long drives near the Outback, loves animals and participates in rescue efforts, then the Escape may be the perfect fit. It rides high enough that you can get on the backroads, has a large enough rear to stow a disabled dingo and you won’t be buying it for much else.
Otherwise? We hope that you’ll be able to color us Kuga in the next year or two when it finally arrives on our shores. CarPlanet will be excited to review that. For now, the Escape is a bit too long in the tooth and doesn’t really have the market it needs to succeed. Perhaps the Kuga will be a pleasant addition to the Ford family, leaving the Escape to pasture.
Engine: 2261cc DOHC four-cylinder (16 valve)
Power: 109kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 199Nm @ 4000rpm
Transmission: Four-speed auto with overdrive
Brakes: Four-wheel disc with ABS, EBA & EBD
Driven Wheels: Part Time 4×4 & Centre Diff Lock
Fuel Type: 91RON Unleaded
Fuel Tank Capacity: 61 litres
Fuel Consumption: 10.5 litres/100km (Combined)
ANCAP Rating: Four Stars
Safety: Front & side airbags, ESP, TCS
Service Interval: 6 month/10,000km
Spare Wheel: Full size matching alloy
Turning Circle: 10.8 metres
Towing Capacity: 1000kg (Braked)
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Weight: 1,578kg (Tare)
Wheels: 16 x 7.0” Alloy
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