It is affordable, comfortable, intuitive, economical, attractive.
With gas prices shooting up again and our 2001 Explorer slowly dieing, we were once again in the market for a vehicle for our family of 4 and 2 dogs (Australian Cattle Dogs). Fuel efficiency was a plus, and we had always been interested in the Escape Hybrid. It's a bit smaller for camping trips with 2 dogs in the back and 2 car seats in the back seat, but with a trailer hitch for a cargo box and the roof rack on top, it works well for us. Was concerned the vehicle would be a gutless wonder based on it being a hybrid and the CVT transmission, but was very surprised by how well this vehicle does. We drove it to Boreal Ski Resort on Hwy 80 from Sacramento, and although it wasn't as exciting as the Explorer, it climbed the hill well, accelerating from 65 to 75 easily on some of the steeper hills. The fuel efficiency is great so far. The inside dash has a running average fuel indicator that is sometimes off. We've found that it's somewhere between spot on and 2 mpg off when we calculate it ourselves. We're currently averaging 29 mpg, with lows around 25 mpg (were driving it hard on hills, one time) and 32 mpg (one time around town). The worst was 20 mpg climbing the hills to Tahoe, and 40 mpg coming down the hills from Tahoe. This is exactly what we were looking for, as the Explorer was getting 11 to 15 mpg on average. Overall it's been the perfect vehicle for our family. It's fun to drive, keeps costs down, and we're back to being able to afford weekend trips (even with a car payment).
As the former owner of three minivans (mom-mobile) and German luxury wagon, I rate the Ford Escape highly for its versatility, safety, driver visibility and ease of use of the cargo space. Love the stow-n-go seats, back-up camera, and the easy-on-the-wallet gas mileage. Purchased this vehicle used and have not had any trouble.