2004 Ford Escape

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2004 Ford Escape Review

Handles like a car but looks like an SUV.

Reviewed by Automotive on

Overview

The 2004 Ford Escape marks Ford’s first-generation entry into the compact SUV market. It has become very popular since its introduction in 2000. The Escape offers front drive or four-wheel drive. The torque can be split equally between the front and rear via a switch on the dashboard on the all-wheel-drive models.

Ford notices that most people buying SUVs for the first time have no intention of taking them offroad. In order to cater to this market, Ford creates the Escape with car-like driving capability and a comfortable interior. To accomplish this, the Escape uses the same chassis as the Mazda 626.

The Range

Body Styles: SUV
Engines: 2.0-liter four-cylinder, 3.0-liter V-6
Transmissions: five-speed manual, four-speed automatic
Models: Ford Escape XLS, Ford Escape XLT, Ford Escape Limited

What's New

Ford lowers the price of the Limited for the 2004 Ford Escape and it moves some of the upper-level packages to the lower-level trims. Some trims and packages have also been consolidated and reorganized to eliminate confusion when placing an order. With plans to do a complete redesign in 2005, Ford does not make any major changes to the Escape. Ford also eliminates the Chrome Yellow exterior paint color.

Exterior

The 2004 Ford Escape comes in three trims: XLS, XLT, and Limited. The XLS comes standard with 15-inch steel wheels, remote power door locks, power mirrors, power windows, a rear defogger, and a rear window wiper. It also includes variable intermittent windshield wipers, a rear lift gate door, and a manual flip-up liftgate window.

The XLT features 16-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, and a roof rack. The Limited adds power heated mirrors. The specially designed roof rack glides back so you can easily load it. The Escape comes in five exterior paint colors. The side moldings look stately and add a little character to the Escape. The bumpers and side mirrors are black and look rather plain.

Interior

The 2004 Escape XLS comes with cloth upholstery, front bucket seats, folding rear seatbacks, and a tilt steering wheel. It also includes with air-conditioning and a four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo. The XLT adds a six-way power driver’s seat, premium cloth upholstery, bucket front seats, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel with cruise control buttons, and a four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with a six-disc CD changer. The Limited adds leather upholstery, a split-folding rear seatback, a tilt steering wheel wrapped in leather with built-in cruise control, and an electrochromatic rear-view mirror.

The controls in the 2004 Ford Escape look easy to read and well-placed. The gear shift lever seems quite long and it obstructs some of the controls on the dashboard. The climate control system does not allow you to independently control the air circulation or the air-conditioning. It uses interior materials of good quality, but overall the interior design looks bland. The cabin feels comfortable and roomy. You have a high step-in to enter and exit the Escape. The seats feel supportive and comfortable, including the rear center seat. Cargo room seems generous and permits the transportation of gear for the entire family. Cargo capacity totals 33.1 cubic feet with the rear seats up and reaches a maximum of 64.8 cubic feet.

Performance & Handling

The 2004 Ford Escape draws power from a standard 2.0-liter, dual overhead cam (DOHC), four-cylinder engine that produces 127 horsepower and 135 lb-ft of torque with a four-speed manual transmission. The suspension system consists of a MacPherson strut front suspension and a multilink rear suspension. The optional 3.0-liter, DOHC V-6 only comes on the XLT and Limited. This engine produces 201 horsepower and 196 lb-ft of torque. All models use front drive, but you can get the optional all-wheel drive with the mechanical center differential and center locking differential.

The 2.0-liter engine feels underpowered, but the V-6 engine supplies plenty of power for highway passing and acceleration. It can complete a zero to 60 mph sprint in 8.9 seconds. The steering feels accurate and has good balance and the Escape grips the road well. The brakes display good stopping power, but the nose dips prominently in panic stops. Wind and tire noise seems excessive and annoying.

Safety

Standard safety equipment for the 2004 Ford Escape includes child seat anchors, ventilated front disc and rear drum brakes, an engine immobilizer, and automatic delay-off headlights. Side-curtain airbags remain optional on the XLS and XLT, but come standard on the Limited. The XLT adds fog lights and electronic brake force distribution. The Limited adds an anti-theft alarm system and front head-protection chambers for the driver and front passenger.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Association gives the 2004 Ford Escape five out of five stars for frontal and side crash protection for the driver and front passenger. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awards the Escape a ""marginal"" rating for frontal-offset protection and a ""poor"" rating for side-impact protection.

EPA Fuel Economy

Ford Escape 2.0-liter four-cylinder, two-wheel drive: 20/25 mpg city/highway
Ford Escape 3.0-liter V-6, two-wheel drive: 17/23 mpg city/highway
Ford Escape 3.0-liter V-6, four-wheel drive: 16/22 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Powerful V-6 engine
  • Plenty of cargo space
  • Comfortable interior
  • Carlike handling
  • Plenty of passenger room

You Won't Like

  • Weak standard four-cylinder
  • Small gas tank
  • Noisy base engine
  • Plain interior design

Sum Up

Handles like a car but looks like an SUV.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Mazda Tribute
  • Jeep Wrangler
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Lexus RX

See the New 2015 Escape.

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