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2012 Ford Escape Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: A Pretty Decent Cute-Ute, All Things Considered by flightwriter

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Introduction

After 20+ years of swearing off all manner of SUVs and cute-utes, I'm glad I bit the bullet and bought my 2012 Escape XLT.

Reviewed: 2012 Ford Escape

4dr SUV 171-horsepower 2.5L I4 6-speed automatic FWD

Why the 2012 Ford Escape?

Exterior styling

Styling is a matter of personal preference, of course, but even after nearly a year of seeing the 2013 Escape on the road, I still greatly prefer the look of the 2008-2012 body style. Yes it's boxy, yes it's less refined, yes it looks like it's trying to imitate an Expedition. Don't care. There's something much more honest about this design than the tortured, Euro-inspired cuteness and "modern!" appearance of the 2013 model.

Driving position & visibility

I spent 20+ years in cars, and all that time I despised those driving SUVs and "cute utes." Well, now I get it. The visibility in traffic is far superior to a comparable car, especially the very latest models with bunker-inspired window slits. (It's also nice having side glass that goes all the way down to elbow-height.) The chair-like driving position is almost close to ideal for me, hindered only by the too-short bottom cushion of the front seats. Still, I've driven mine 16+ hours in one day and survived with little complaint.

Discounts & incentives

Mine was one of the last 2012s on the lot, and the purchase price before trade and down payment was over $4000 below sticker. $2500 of that was incentives.

Cargo capacity

As long as you don't expect Suburban (or Expedition EL) levels of cargo room, the box-like rear compartment of this generation of Escape is able to accommodate nearly everything you could want. I used every last inch of that room in a recent move, and wasn't disappointed.

Audio & nav systems

The basic SYNC system (no My Ford Touch, praise Jeebus!) with Bluetooth integration and voice control works very well in my experience, and having two USB ports (access to the second one requires that you remove the console and plug in to the SYNC control unit) means I can connect my iPod and phone to the vehicle.

Why Not the 2012 Ford Escape?

Powertrain performance

The little 2.5L four-cylinder offers decent power for its size, but idles very coarsely with the A/C on and in gear. Ford has issued a service notice for this problem, but it basically comes down to, "we know there are complaints, but resolving the issue isn't a priority for us."

Fuel economy

Fuel economy suffers thanks to the need to downshift for even smaller hills and the vehicle's brick-like aerodynamic profile. EPA ratings are 20/28, real-world is closer to 24.

Materials & workmanship

INTERIOR: The overabundance of hard plastics inside is both a blessing and a curse. The dashboard has a simple dimpled texture that reduces glare, and while it's none-too luxurious it also won't crack or deform from years in the sun. Likewise, the hard plastic door panels impart a sense of cheapness, but they're also easy to clean and the top edge won't wear out or deform from having my elbow on them. The front seat "leather" is thin and heavily plasticized; the rear seats don't even get that, being covered instead in vinyl like many Ford trucks and SUVs. Given the new vehicle sticker price of $28,000, the materials should have been much nicer - and are on the 2013 model.

Materials & workmanship

EXTERIOR: Numerous minor fit & finish flaws, including a sizable gap between the left headlight and grille assemblies, and other sloppy panel fits. The most series flaw was a quarter-size paint blemish that started to "bubble" under the clearcoat on the left-side C pillar at 7,000 miles that required the entire panel to be reshot. (Incidentally, the body shop's paintwork is noticeably superior to the factory finish, with much smoother application and no orange peel.)

Ride smoothness

A short-coupled wheelbase + SUV aspirations + 17" economy-minded tires = an occasionally jarring ride over city streets. The tires also impart a subtle low-frequency vibration that you don't really notice until after you exit the vehicle following a long drive, and realize that you're still feeling a "hum" and ever-so-slight vibration.

Conclusion

PROs: Easy step-in height, great visibility, lots of room for its size. CONs: Subpar build and materials quality, fuel economy.

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Response from hobiehicks

7:34 pm December 2, 2017

Disagree on fuel economy. I inherited my Ford Escape with a four cyclinder engine and fuel economy of freeways, at speed limit and over by 5 mph, is on road at 32 mpg. City driving is at 28 mpg. I have been quite surprised with its economy. I have driven the car approximately 25,000 in the past six months.

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Response from NormT

9:49 pm December 2, 2017

We rented a 2017 Escape sE and got 33+ mpg with the cruise set 65 mph for most of 6 hours...with AWD. The new turbo-4 and transmission tuning is very well sorted. The older 2.5l is probably not as efficent.

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