2002 Ford Escape (401)

This weeks test vehicle was the 2002 Ford Escape SUV that carried me and the little lady on an “Escape” of our own. Over several rivers and through lots of woods to the Jensen’s we did go. But on the way we covered a lot of ground and as the miles ticked away I was impressed that we got 24 highway miles per gallon of gas. That’s what they claim, and that’s what we got.

Comfort was our major concern since we would be sitting for long stretches on each leg of our journey to Yellowstone, which I expect most American families have embarked on during their lives. I truly expected the seats on this Escape to be cheesy and uncomfortable, but that truly wasn’t the case, which I’m happy to report. In fact, the Cadillac Escalade EXT that took me to Oregon recently did have more substantial seats but at twice the price as this Escape. And to add insult to injury the Cad didn’t pass as many gas stations since it only got 15-mpg tops. 

Escape is a direct competitor to the Jeep Liberty, in my view, which I tested in Oregon in November on an elk-hunting trip in the snow. The Liberty was a 4X4 as compared to this two-wheel drive Sport Ute, but as you probably know, only 5% of all SUV’s ever get used “Off-Road”. I never had the need to do any hill climbing on our vacation.

General Info:

Parts – USA

Assembly – USA

Class: – Special Purpose (SUV)

Cars: – Crown Victoria, Econoline, Escape, Explorer, Excursion, Expedition, F150, F250, F350, Focus, Mustang, Ranger, Taurus, Thunderbird, Windstar, ZX2.

Handling & Performance:

Over the passes and winding mountain roads this Ford was equal to all that was asked of it. It’s a good road car and I was pleasantly surprised with gas performance of 24 mpg. I never wanted for more power in any situation, and we were both impressed with the feeling of stability around those curves. Escape also comes with a 2.0 liter 127 horsepower engine that gets 3-4 miles per gallon of gas more than the 3.0-liter engine I tested.


All Ford SUV’s – Escape through the largest Excursion have a solid looking, robust appearance. I like the design as well as any SUV on the market today.

Fit and Finish:

Very good and consistent with the competitors noted.


A place for everything and everything in its place.

Cargo area is 33 cu ft as compared to 48 cu ft in its largest sibling Excursion and 4 cu ft more area than its rival Jeep Liberty. But it seems that no matter how much space you have, you find a way to fill it. Surely this was good for the two of us, but larger camping families will need to look at the larger models.

Yellowstone National Park, Jackson Hole’s Grand Teton National Park, Glacier International Park and Lake Tahoe, CA were host to our Escape and us. It was trouble free and afforded us the ability to haul all our camping equipment for our two-week escape from Los Angeles, CA and not even use the Roof Rack. Two-wheel drive is all we needed and unless you have the burning desire to get off road, the added gas mileage is a great trade off for the 2-wheel drive version. And if power is not an issue you can get close to 30 mpg with the smaller engine.


The price must be right or it wouldn’t be the big seller it is. Surely it is at the top of the group as to average price, but the prices are close between what I consider comparing Liberty, Xterra and this Escape.

Consumer Recommendation:

I’ve tested all the competition listed below and in my view, the closest rivals include Jeep Liberty, Nissan Xterra and Ford Escape. For the money these three are my favorites.

The Competition: 

(1) Kia Sportage $15-18,000, (2) Toyota RAV4 $17-18,000, (3) Chevrolet Tracker $16-22,000, (4) Hyundai Santa Fe $17-23,000, (5) Jeep Liberty $17-23,000, (6) Honda CR-V 19-22,000, (7) Mazda Tribute $18-24,000, (8) Suzuki Grand Vitara $19-23,000, (9) Nissan Xterra $18-26,000, (10) Subaru Forester $20-24,000, (11) Ford Escape $19-26,000, (12) Mitsubishi Montero Sport $23-33,000, (13) Isuzu Axiom $27-31,000.

Good News:

Spacious, good gas performance, smooth ride.

Bad News:

Ignition switch awkward to reach.

Gas Stats:

19 City and 24 Highway MPG.


MSRP $23,000.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2014 – An Automotive Love Affair.

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