HEELS ON WHEELS: 2008 Ford Escape



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HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser

INTRO TO THE 2008 FORD ESCAPE

The Escape definitely gained some muscle for 2008 and now better embodies Ford’s beefy truck image and genetics. The Escape made its public debut at the North American International Auto Show in 2000. The mid-size SUV Mercury Mariner is the more refined twin of the Ford Escape.

I drove the 4-speed automatic 2008 Ford Escape Limited 4x4 with a 200-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 engine. Gas mileage is approximately 22-mpg city and 28-mpg highway driving – a couple notches above average for a compact SUV with a V6.

The 2008 Ford Escape is one of the first Ford Motor Company vehicles to use speed-sensitive Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS). This system helps correct road irregularities and improves overall steering feel. The system uses an electric motor rather than the engine’s accessory drive. This new system eliminates the hydraulic noises typical of conventional hydraulic power-assisted steering systems and improves fuel economy as well. The Escape models achieve up to an 8 percent improvement in fuel economy over the previous model.

Engineers made a host of changes to the 2008 Escape to reduce noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels inside the vehicle. This list includes thicker glass and relocated alternator from the right side to the left side of the engine.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: What caught my eyes were the higher beltline, raised hood and new front design. Plus the 17-inch chrome Alloy wheels. It's tough but not huge. There are very interesting C-shaped rear brake lights on the new model. I had very plush leather seats and a leather-trimmed wheel. The Escape has a well-constructed wood and glossy plastic center console, including their new "top of the dash" information display, Ice Blue lighting and redesigned controls. At one point in my test drive I had five passengers and all said they felt comfortable, whether sitting in the front passenger seat or middle second row. Note it was impossible to open the heavy liftgate with one hand while cradling groceries – no command on remote key fob.

Reliability & Safety Factor: One reason the Ford SUV hybrid lineup is falling a bit short on bigger consumer and media endorsement is because its getting dinged for having low braking scores. Consumer Reports found it took 161 feet for the Escape and Mercury Marnier to stop from 60-0 mph – this is about 25-30 feet more than what competitors are testing. For 2008, Ford didn't make it in the Top Ten of Consumer Reports' recommended manufacturers. It would be more accurate to say the automaker actually landed near the bottom of the list citing average reliability where the brakes and body hardware is concerned. This is not to say it hasn't improved over the years since its entry into the market in 2006. Ford Motor Company has an extended Powertrain Limited Warranty that includes extended warranty coverage for certain engine, transmission, front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive components that are covered for 5 years/60,000 miles (whichever occurs first).

Cost Issues: Total vehicle cost for my 2008 Ford Escape Limited 4x4 with all its options revealed approximately $33,280. That's $7,095 for the options and $25,520 for the base price, not including destination charges. Because there are no hydraulic lines or fluid, supposedly the maintenance costs over the life of the vehicle are reduced.

Activity & Performance Ability: I loved the feel of the 3.0-liter V6 and thought it gave a lot for having just 200 horsepower. It never disappointed during high-speed acceleration. It was never sluggish holding full capacity on slopes, both on pavement and on off-roads. The turning radius on the 2008 Escape was another plus as I dodged for the parking space and when navigating past slower cars on roads.

The Green Concern: In 2004 we got the Escape Hybrid, the world’s first hybrid-electric SUV. Today the Escape has an all-new interior, featuring the industry’s first fabric seating surfaces made from 100 percent recycled material, so it keeps trying to get greener. Total vehicle cost for a 2008 Ford Escape 4x4 Hybrid with all the fixings is approximately $32,760. Gas mileage on this Hybrid is 34-mpg city and 30-mpg highway driving. If you could give up the nice leather and handle the recycled material, do it.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The Ford Escape is if you want an SUV and you want to be reasonable about the size and fuel consumption. And if you don't mind the fact the braking/stopping didn't rate as well as the other SUVs in its class did.

2008 Katrina Ramser

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