2001 Escape New Car Test Drive
If high cost, big size and poor handling have held you back from buying a sport-utility vehicle, then you may find the new Ford Escape appealing. At least that's Ford's thinking and we believe they are right on track.
A completely new vehicle, the Ford Escape offers agile handling on both paved and unpaved roads. It rides smoothly and gets strong acceleration performance from an optional V6. The Escape seats four people comfortably, and folding down the rear seats reveals a flat, moderately sized cargo area. Best of all, its price is relatively low. Ford Escape and the nearly identical Mazda Tribute may be the best small sport-utility vehicles sold today.
Two models are available, XLS ($17,645) and XLT ($19,195). Each offers a choice of front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive; four-wheel drive adds $1625 to the price. All come standard with Ford's four-cylinder Zetec engine. An additional $1400 buys the optional 3.0-liter V6.
Escape XLS comes with a high level of standard equipment, including air conditioning, power windows and an AM/FM/CD stereo. XLT adds ABS, cruise control, map lights, a cassette player, a rear auxiliary power outlet, better seats and aluminum wheels instead of steel ones. Four-wheel-drive XLT models also get Ford's fully automatic Control Trac II system with a lockable center differential. An Escape loaded with leather, V6 and six-disc in-dash CD goes for less than $25,000.
The Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute are the first two vehicle that the two companies developed jointly through the entire research and development phase.
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