2006 Ford Escape Hybrid
2006 Ford Escape Hybrid; photo by Greg Wilson. Click image to enlarge
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By Chris Chase

Ford has a long history in the truck-building business, but if the success of its Escape compact crossover is an indication, the company knows how to build a car-based “truck” which appeals to buyers in a segment that has become one of the most popular in North America. The Escape’s success, while perhaps not surprising, is interesting all the same, considering that the Escape came to market four years after the original Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 arrived in 1997. Shortly after the Escape went on sale in 2001, it became the best-selling vehicle in the segment, and has held that position since.

Initially, the Escape was offered with a choice of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine (130 horsepower) or a 200-hp, 3.0-litre V6; in 2005, the four-cylinder was upgraded to a more powerful (153-hp) 2.3-litre unit. The four-cylinder could be had with a five-speed manual, but V6 models all got a four-speed automatic (which was optional in four-banger cars). Either engine was available with front- or all-wheel drive. The 2005 model year brought a gas-electric hybrid Escape rated at a combined (gas plus electric power) 133 hp.

In 2008, the Escape was restyled (though the basic platform remained the same), and the manual transmission was discontinued. The 2009 model brought new engines and transmissions. The four-cylinder was upgraded to a 2.5-litre making 171 horsepower, while the re-engineered 3.0-litre was good for 240, and a six-speed automatic transmission became the new standard. The new four-cylinder was also used in the Hybrid model, boosting its power output to a combined 177 hp.

In 2001, Natural Resources Canada’s fuel consumption numbers for the Escape were 10.6/8.3 L/100 km (city/highway) for a four-cylinder, all-wheel drive model with manual transmission, and 13.4/9.2 for a V6 AWD version. The combination of new engines and transmission in 2009 helped improve those figures somewhat, and naturally, the Hybrid’s ratings are impressive, at 7.1/7.5 for a 2005 AWD model, improving to 6.6/7.3 in 2011. As a rule, front-wheel drive Escapes are more efficient than all-wheelers.

2006 Ford Escape Hybrid
2006 Ford Escape Hybrid; photo by Greg Wilson. Click image to enlarge

The newer six-speed transmission used in the 2009-and-up Escape is a version of the one Ford co-developed with General Motors. Dubbed the 6F35 in the Escape (and the Mazda Tribute, as well as the 2010-and-newer Ford Fusion sedan; Ford’s larger SUVs and sedans use an uprated version of the same gearbox), this transmission is prone to a problem with its valve body (an internal component that controls the flow of hydraulic fluid) that causes shift flare (where engine speed surges as the transmission shifts) and lurching. Lurching and shift flare. In a worst-case scenario, this happens; there are more examples like this elsewhere on Youtube.

The transmission fluid cooler is prone to leaks, which, if ignored, can cause the transmission to run low on fluid and be damaged.

Consumer Reports notes the alternator (the device that keeps the battery charged while the car is running) as a trouble spot.

2006 Ford Escape Hybrid
2006 Ford Escape Hybrid; photo by Greg Wilson. Click image to enlarge

A number of Fords use a “Delta Pressure Feedback of EGR” sensor, which measures vacuum pressures in the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system. This is a common source of headaches for owners: when it fails, it causes the engine to stumble or an erratic loss of power, says this page at FocusHacks.com.

Watch for engine oil leaks that, according to Consumer Reports, affect mostly the six-cylinder engine, but whether the four-cylinder is immune is unclear. Also unclear is the most common source of the leak: the oil pan gasket, or the front main seal.

Details on any problems with the Hybrid model are few (CR calls it the most reliable model in the Escape line-up), but this thread at GreenHybrid.com talks of the vague “stop safely now” warning message that appears in the instrument cluster, followed closely by a car that won’t re-start.

2011 Ford Escape XLT
2011 Ford Escape XLT
2011 Ford Escape XLT
2011 Ford Escape XLT; photos by Chris Chase. Click image to enlarge

In less-serious matters, many owners complain of premature brake wear and noisy brakes and squeaks and rattles, and 2008-and-newer models suffer from climate control system problems more often than older versions.

The Escape’s crash safety ratings are a mixed bag. From the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), early Escapes earned a “marginal” score in frontal offset crash tests, and “poor” for models without side airbags. These ratings improved through the years until 2008-and-newer models scored “good” in both tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) scores for the Escape tell a different story, with their testing procedures giving the Escape four and five stars across the board in its frontal and side crash tests. As always, it bears mentioning that the IIHS’ frontal offset test is better at revealing a poorly-designed structure than the NHTSA’s full-on frontal test.

Canadian Black Book puts used Escape values at anywhere between $5,375 for a 2001 XLS and $27,900 for a 2010 Limited model. Hybrid versions range from $13,225 for a 2005 to $30,400 for a 2010 Hybrid Limited. (Note that all values are for all-wheel drive models.)

When shopping for a used car, it can be wise to buy as new as possible to benefit from any remaining warranty coverage remaining. In this case, that would probably be wise, as the redesigned 2008-and-newer Escape seems to suffer more trouble spots than its predecessor. Chalk it up to teething pains with some of the redesigned components that went into the redesigned 2008 model, or on newer vehicles being more complicated in general. Front-wheel drive Escapes are the best bet for avoiding the leaky rear differential, and a pre-2008 model is attractive for the added dependability that it seems to boast over its redesigned successor. Regardless, look for one with a detailed service history, and that checks out with a trustworthy mechanic.


Black Book Pricing (avg. retail) January 2011:

Price today
Price new
Escape XLT FWD
Escape XLT FWD
Escape XLT FWD
Escape XLS FWD
Escape XLS FWD
Escape XLS FWD
Escape XLS FWD
Escape XLS FWD
Escape XLS FWD
Escape XLS FWD
Online resources
  • Escape-Central.com is the place to start, followed by the notably less popular Escape-City.com. For hybrid models, check the Ford Escape sections at GreenHybrid.com and HybridCars.com.

  • Transport Canada Recall Number: 2000225; Units affected: 222001:On certain vehicles, the speed control cable may have a cracked speed control cable servo cap or may be missing a servo cap locating tab. The potential exists for the locating tab to enter the servo clutch cavity and interfere with the speed control servo pulley. This condition would not allow the throttle to return to idle when disengaging the speed control and a vehicle crash could occur. Correction: Vehicles will be inspected and speed control cable and servo will be replaced if necessary.
  • Transport Canada Recall Number: 2000226; Units affected: 22

    2001:On certain vehicles, the nut that attaches the steering wheel assembly to the steering column may be upside down in the steering wheel assembly. This could overstress the steering column shaft when the nut is tightened. In addition, the nut may have been cracked during manufacture, which could result in the nut fracturing when it is tightened during vehicle assembly. Either of these conditions could potentially lead to the steering wheel becoming loose or separating from the steering column. This could result in loss of steering control and a crash without prior warning. Correction: Dealers will inspect and replace the steering wheel retention armature an, if necessary, the steering column will be replaced.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2000242; Units affected: 11

    2001:Certain vehicles may have been built with 4X4 rear hubs instead of instead of 4X2 hubs. If the incorrect hubs are installed on a 4X2 vehicle, the rear wheels may loosen, or in some cases, separate from the vehicle. If this occurs, vehicle control may be adversely affected, which could result in a crash. Correction: Rear hubs will be inspected and replaced if necessary.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2000244; Units affected: 412

    2001:On certain vehicles, the o-ring seals in the fuel line connector at the outlet end of the fuel filter may have been damaged when the line was connected to the filter during vehicle assembly. In some cases, the damage to the o-rings may result in a fuel odour, or possibly in fuel dripping from the connection. Fuel leakage in sufficient quantity in the presence of an ignition source could potentially result in a fire. Correction: Fuel line will be inspected and replaced if necessary.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2001004; Units affected: 3,515

    2001:On certain vehicles, the windshield wiper linkage may disengage due to a cracked or fractured ball socket, which could potentially result in sudden and complete loss of windshield wiper function without prior warning. In adverse weather this condition could result in reduced driver visibility and a possible crash. Correction: Dealers will inspect and if necessary, replace the wiper assembly module.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2003323; Units affected: 9,294

    2001:On certain vehicles, a post moulded into the inside surface of the front safety belt buckle cover may fracture. The fractured buckle cover post may affect the buckle function and may exhibit either “no latch” – an overt condition as the tongue will not latch into the buckle, or “partial latch” – likely an overt condition because, although the tongue can be inserted into the buckle and appear to be engaged, it will release from the buckle without the push button being depressed when a relatively low load is applied such as when an occupant moves slightly in the seat. Correction: Dealer will replace both front safety belt buckle covers.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2004126; Units affected: 24,130

    2001-2003:On certain vehicles equipped with a 3.0-litre V6 engine, during deceleration at vehicle speeds below 64 km/h, the engine may stall due to an excessively rich fuel-air mixture. Correction: Dealer will reprogram the Powertrain Control Module.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2004426; Units affected: 38,034

    2002-2004:On certain vehicles equipped with 3.0-litre V6 engines, the accelerator cable’s inner liner may, over time, migrate out of the conduit at the dash panel fitting during vehicle operation. The liner may migrate to the point that it contacts the accelerator pedal arm. Under these conditions the liner may prevent the pedal from fully returning, which may not allow the throttle body to fully return to the “idle” position. Typically the condition results in a progressive increase in the “idle” speed if liner migration continues over time, but may cause a more sudden increase if a greater portion of the cable moves at one time. An unexpected increase in “idle” speed may result in longer than expected stopping distances, which could potentially lead to a crash. Correction: Dealers will replace the accelerator cable.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2004441; Units affected: 23,522

    2004-2005:Certain vehicles do not comply with the requirements of CMVSS 206 – Door Locks and Door Retention Components. The rear liftgate latching system does not meet the Technical Standards Document 206 Inertia Load requirement. If the liftgate is left unlocked, it may open during a severe collision. Correction: Dealers will replace the rear liftgate latch release rod and attachment clip.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2005356; Units affected: 13,581 (includes other models)

    2006:On certain vehicles, the windshield wiper motor may have been produced without grease applied to the output shaft gear. After a period of continuous use on the high-speed setting, lack of grease may cause the gear teeth to distort and/or fracture during operation, resulting in the loss of wiper function. Correction: Dealers will inspect and, if required, apply grease to the output shaft gear.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2007107; Units affected: 36,546

    2001-2003:On certain vehicles, the electrical wiring connector to the ABS module may have been manufactured incorrectly. Over time, contaminants can enter the ABS electrical connector interface and corrode the terminals. This could cause the ABS warning indicator to illuminate, an open fuse, and in some instances, smoking, melting or burning of the electrical connector, with the potential for a fire while the vehicle is unattended. In addition, ABS function may be lost. Correction: Dealers will inspect and, if required, repair the wiring connector.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2010164; Units affected: 3

    2010:On certain vehicles, the automatic transmission park rod guide retention pin may not have been properly installed. If the pin not properly installed, the park rod guide may become displaced, preventing the transmission park pawl from engaging when shifted into “PARK”. This situation may allow vehicle movement and result in property damage or personal injury to bystanders. Correction: Dealers will repair affected vehicles.

    Crash test results
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

    For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

    For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.

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