$5,723 - $7,369

2010 Ford Escape Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2010 Ford Escape was new.


Performance: 7.4

Most complaints about previous models -- most notably a sluggish base engine and sub-par steering -- were remedied with last year's changes. Still, a select few say the Escape’s driving dynamics just aren't as smooth as those of top rivals.

  • "On the road, all three Escape variants accelerate with more authority than before, but they feel more refined, too." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "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
  • "While pleasant to drive, the 2010 Ford Escape lacks the mechanical polish and sophistication of newer models from Chevrolet, Honda, Subaru and Toyota. Among compact crossovers, the Escape feels the most trucklike." -- Edmunds
  • "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

Acceleration and Power

The base XLS model comes with a 2.5-liter I4 engine that makes 171 horsepower and is paired with a five-speed manual transmission or optional six-speed automatic. The XLT and Limited models come with the same engine but upgrade to the six-speed automatic transmission. They are also available with a 3.0-liter 240-horsepower V6, which is a $1,000 option. But reviewers say that unless you plan on towing, the base engine should be powerful enough for most drivers.

The Escape’s fuel economy is good for its class. According to the EPA, a front-wheel drive (FWD) four-cylinder model should net 22/28 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission and 21/28 mpg with the optional automatic. All-wheel drive (AWD) four-cylinder models net 20/26 mpg with the automatic. The V6 FWD model is rated at 19/25 mpg, while the AWD model is rated at 18/23 mpg.

It’s difficult to find a competitor that has better fuel economy and costs less than the Escape, but the Hyundai Tucson does. It costs about $2,000 less and earns two more miles per gallon on the highway (its city fuel economy is the same as the Escape’s). Its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine even boasts five more horsepower than the Escape’s base engine.

  • "Acceleration from both engines is adequate, though the V6 isn't as energetic as the more powerful mills in the Equinox and RAV4." -- Edmunds
  • "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 larger 3.0-liter V6 was recently improved, gaining a higher compression ratio that added an additional 40 horsepower. The 3.0-liter provides better acceleration and the ability to tow up to 3,500 pounds, but its city fuel economy ratings only reach the high teens." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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

Test drivers say the Escape has a smooth ride and decent enough handling. However, at least one has concerns about its longer-than-average braking distances.

  • "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
  • "Unfortunately, the Escape is hampered by poor braking performance. From 60 mph, the last Escape we tested stopped in a disappointing 128 feet." -- Edmunds

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