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2009 Ford Escape Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Ford Escape was new.


Performance: 7.4

Many of the test drivers' complaints about the 2008 Escape -- most notably a sluggish base engine and sub-par steering -- have been remedied with this year's modifications. Still, a select few say the driving dynamics just aren't up to par with top rivals.

  • "On the road, all three Escape variants accelerate with more authority than before, but they feel more refined, too." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "That new six speed goes out of its way to make the engine seem like a superstar. Combined with the anti-roll bar in the back, the new Escape V6 is... dare I say it? Kinda fun to drive. With the added power and defeated traction control, you can actually get a little tail happy with this thing." -- Jalopnik
  • "Escape is reasonably comfortable for the most part. However, it suffers from a crude feel that reveals the nearly 10-year-old age of its basic design." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The Escape still isn't as calm-riding as the Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V, the two most dominant players in the segment." -- Car and Driver
  • "When it was introduced in 2001, Escape set the standard for small SUV ride comfort. Times have changed, and Escape hasn't. The ride is still tolerable, but large bumps pound through the suspension and the ride is busier than on newer designs like the Honda CR-V, and Nissan Rogue. It's not terrible, mind you, but Ford needs to put a little more effort into smoothing out the rough edges." -- Drive Chicago

Acceleration and Power

Thanks to powertrain improvements, the 2009 Escape pumps out more-than-adequate acceleration from either engine. In fact, Ward's Automotive Group named the 2.5-liter powerplant as one of its 10 Best Engines for 2009. According to the EPA, the FWD Escape should net 22/28 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission, while models with an automatic should net 20/28 with the four-cylinder engine and 18/26 with the V6. AWD models net 19/25 with the four-cylinder engine and 17/24 with the V6.

  • "Major mojo to the gasoline powertrains highlights the Escape improvements. The 4-cylinder's displacement was increased from 2.3- to 2.5-liters and the entire upper engine redesigned for better breathing. Power thus grew from 153 to 171 horsepower. Even better, the 3.0-liter V6 gained 40 horsepower via a similar upper-engine redesign and a higher 10.3:1 compression ratio. It now boasts 240 horsepower." -- MSN
  • "When equipped with the 6-speed automatic, the four-cylinder produces reasonably strong acceleration -- certainly enough to satisfy most daily driving conditions." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "The six-speed automatic (a five-speed manual remains standard with the four) smoothens the power delivery, and there's none of the hunting for gears of the old 2.3-liter/four-speed auto combo." -- Motor Trend

Handling and Braking

The 2009 Escape's handling improvements come from modified steering and a new rear stabilizer -- which add up to a smoother and more fun drive.

  • "The Escape's high point is its car-like handling, definitely augmented this year by the addition of a rear sway bar. It's still a tall-in-the-saddle SUV, so body roll is felt more than in a sedan, but the steering is direct and the naturally supple ride well-damped for a reassuring feel." -- MSN
  • "Ride quality is impressive in all models, and the suspension's compliance soaks up big potholes and surface irregularities surprisingly well." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "For the first time, the Escape gets a rear anti-roll bar, and combined with the re-tuned springs and dampers, as well as new tires, the handling of the CUV feels much more composed." -- Autoblog

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