2004 Escape New Car Test Drive
Ford Escape is a good choice among small, affordable, road-going SUVs. The Escape offers agile handling, a smooth ride, and comfortable seating for four. It also provides brisk acceleration when equipped with the optional V6 engine. It's compact but practical. Folding down the rear seats reveals a flat, moderately sized cargo area. Best of all, its price is relatively low.
First introduced as a 2001 model, the Escape benefited from upgraded interior materials for 2003, and is unchanged for 2004. There are, however, a couple of new packages aimed at enhancing value.
Ford Escape comes in three trim levels, XLS, XLT, and Limited. Each is available with front-wheel drive (2WD) or four-wheel drive (4WD).
XLS ($18,710) comes with a high level of standard equipment, which includes air conditioning, illuminated remote entry, power windows and mirrors, a tilt steering column, center console, 15-inch steel wheels and an AM/FM/CD/cassette audio system with a clock. Power for the XLS comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder Zetec engine producing 130 horsepower and 135 pound-feet of torque. It comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission. A 201-horsepower 3.0-liter Duratec V6 and four-speed automatic are also available: The XLS Preferred Equipment Package 120A ($1,560) adds the V6, automatic, and premium console with armrest and cup holders. The XLS 4WD model ($21,925) comes standard with the V6 and automatic.
XLT ($22,555) and XLT 4WD ($24,180) come standard with the V6 and automatic transmission. XLT also gets four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), premium cloth upholstery, a power driver's seat, privacy glass, a power moonroof, cruise control, a cargo cover and convenience net, fog lights, an in-dash six-CD changer, and white-letter P235/70R16 tires on 16-inch five-spoke aluminum wheels.
Limited ($24,615) and Limited 4WD ($26,240) come with premium leather seats, seat heaters, front side-impact air bags, dual front sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated exterior mirrors, a reverse sensing system, and a MACH Audio in-dash six-CD changer with automatic volume control. Limited sports a monochrome exterior with body-colored trim and bright machined 16-inch aluminum wheels.
Option packages are available for each trim level. XLT Premium Package ($1230) includes leather seating surfaces, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 60/40 split rear bench seat, front door map pockets, an overhead console with dual storage bins, a front passenger under-seat storage tray, and a power moonroof with sunshade. New for 2004 is the Limited Luxury Comfort Package, which includes the MACH audio system, heated side-view mirrors, reverse sensing system, front and rear premium leather-trimmed seats and heated front seats. Also new for 2004 is the Base Limited model, which features a monochromatic exterior appearance and front and rear leather seats, in addition to an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual sunvisors with illuminated mirrors and an in-dash AM/FM six-disc audio system.