2010 Ford Escape Review and Prices

Last Updated: Aug 5, 2011

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2010 Ford Escape Buying Advice

The 2010 Ford Escape is the best compact crossover vehicle for you if you’re a fan of throwback SUV styling combined with just enough in the way of high-tech features to make it current.

The 2010 Ford Escape is a rather dated car-based SUV, though it was one of the first crossovers on the market when it debuted for the 2001 model year. Escape has managed to remain a top seller over the years via a number of incremental updates and reasonable pricing. Its corporate cousin over at Mercury is sold as the Mariner. The 2010 Escape is offered with a choice of a four-cylinder engine or a V-6 and with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (AWD). It come in three trim levels: XLS, XLT, and top-of-the-line Limited. Escape added a fuel-sipping hybrid-powered rendition to the line for 2005 as the industry’s first gas/electric SUV. The 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid comes in base and Limited versions. Escape was last revamped for model-year 2008, though it was far from a revolutionary update. This five-passenger, four-door wagon remains boxy on the outside, almost retro-looking in an age of curvier crossover designs. The cabin is a likewise ancient design, which tends to come across less well than the exterior. The 2010 Ford Escape adds “spotter” side mirrors with an extra lens to help see vehicles that might be hiding in the driver’s blind spot. Also newly available is Ford’s MyKey system, billed as a young-driver safety system; see the “Driving Experience” section below for details). A new power-steering system replaces a traditional hydraulic power steering pump with advanced electronic assist for a minor improvement in fuel economy. New options include a rear backup camera/display for easier and safer parking and a novel Active Park Assist system that allows the Escape to all but park itself.

Should you buy a 2010 Ford Escape or wait for the 2011 Ford Escape? While another round of minor cosmetic and functional changes are coming for 2011, the Escape will see a total transformation for the 2012 model year. Expect far more curvaceous styling with new engines that will likely be more powerful and more fuel efficient -- a plug-in hybrid version may also be added to the mix. Unless you like basic style of today’s Escape and it archaic road manners somehow appeal to you --, or you can strike a can’t-miss deal via generous manufacturer incentives and deep dealer discounts --  we’d suggest waiting for that 2012 replacement rather than buying a 2010 or 2011 Escape.

2010 Ford Escape Test Drive back to top

Interior:  The 2010 Ford Escape isn’t as roomy inside as such class stars as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. But compared to crossovers with sloping rear rooflines, Escape’s nearly horizontal roof does maximize back seat headroom and cargo space for taller objects.

There’s nothing particularly special about the 2010 Ford Escape’s interior design, though all gauges are easy to read and all switches are within easy reach. Even when fitted with leather upholstery, some dated dashboard materials tend to make this Ford feel cheap inside. Outward visibility is good thanks to large and square windows. The rear seatbacks fold on a 60/40 basis to help maximize cargo room, though unlike some models in the Escape’s class, the rear seat isn’t adjustable fore/aft to favor passenger or cargo space. Front-side and head-protecting side-curtain airbags are included.

If the 2010 Ford Escape’s design looks ancient, a wealth of available technology makes it seem downright modern under the skin. For starters, there’s the latest version of the voice-activated “Sync” multimedia control system Ford developed in conjunction with Microsoft. Sync can, for example, choose songs from an iPod playlist, answer a Bluetooth-equipped cell-phone, program a navigation-system destination, and much more, all with a minimum fuss. Spring for the navigation system and you can also specify Sirius Travel Link, which provides detailed weather and traffic information, sports scores, movie listings, and local fuel prices for a monthly subscription fee. Ford’s new “MyKey” system is designed for owners with teenage drivers; it limits the vehicle’s top speed at 80 mph (parents can set warning chimes at lower speeds), limits stereo volume, and mutes the audio system if seatbelts aren’t fastened. Also added to the 2010 Escape is Ford’s Active Park Assist option. It automatically steers the Escape into a parallel-parking space with only throttle input needed from the driver. It works better than a similar system Toyota introduced in the Lexus LS, and at $395 is far more affordable.

Other available 2010 Escape amenities include a remote-start function, rear DVD entertainment system, garage-door opener, rear-parking proximity alarm, and a rear-view camera.

Exterior:  In an age in which crossover SUVs are becoming ever curvier-looking, the 2010 Ford Escape remains steadfastly boxy. The exterior is fairly plain and yet is tastefully devoid of unnecessary tack-ons. The roofline is tall and square, with a conventional vertical-opening tailgate.

Running boards are on the options list but they’re mostly for show because the 2010 Ford Escape is not a particularly tall-riding vehicle. This tends to make passenger ingress and egress reasonably easy for people of all sizes.

The 2010 Ford Escape Limited model adds exterior chrome trim and bright machined aluminum wheels for added visual flair.

Driving:  The 2010 Ford Escape’s 171-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine should be sufficient for most buyers. A 240-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 is available if you’re in a hurry and don’t mind sacrificing a few miles per gallon in fuel economy.

A five-speed manual transmission is the standard gearbox in the four-cylinder 2010 Ford Escape but most buyers choose the smooth and efficient six-speed automatic that’s optional with the four-cylinder and standard with the V-6.

The 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid teams its 2.5-liter gas engine with an electric motor/generator and a self-charging battery pack. Power is channeled to the pavement via a gearless continuously variable transmission. The 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid can run exclusively on electric power at low speeds. As with most hybrids the gasoline engine shuts off at idle to save fuel, then restarts automatically when the driver touches the accelerator. The transition between power sources is almost imperceptible.

The 2010 Ford Escape’s ride and handling are not up to par with newer vehicles in this class, though the addition of electric power steering helps sharpen its reflexes some. As a crossover with car-type unibody construction, Escape is easier to navigate and has a much smoother ride than any truck-based SUV with a separate body-on-frame design. But that doesn’t make this Ford particularly fun to drive in any respect. Ford’s AdvanceTrac stability control is standard to help keep the vehicle on an even keel over a wide range of road conditions and handling situations. Braking is about average with standard antilock brakes, though Escape skimps a little by featuring only a front disc/rear drum setup rather that the front- and rear-disc brakes found on most rivals.

2010 Ford Escape Prices back to top

The 2010 Ford Escape base price range is $21,745-$28,100 (prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Ford’s fee for the 2010 Escape is $725). The 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid ranges in price from $30,585 to $34,845.

The XLS model is the most-affordable entry in the 2010 Escape lineup and starts at $21,745. On front-drive gasoline models, the optional automatic transmission is available only as part of an extra-cost equipment package, which can add as much as $1,680 to the price, depending on the trim level and package selected. All-wheel-drive adds $1,750 to the sticker price of the 2010 Escape XLS, XLT, and Limited models.

2010 Ford Escape Fuel Economy back to top

The front-wheel-drive four-cylinder 2010 Ford Escape is rated at 22/28 mpg (city/highway) with manual transmission and 21/28 with automatic. With AWD, the four-cylinder Ford Escape is rated at 20/26 mpg.

The V-6 2010 Ford Escape is rated at 19/25 mpg with front-wheel drive and 18/23 with AWD. 

The 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid is the most fuel-frugal SUV sold in the U.S. at 34/31 mpg. Note that the higher city figure reflects the Hybrid’s ability to run on electricity alone at low speeds and also to shut down its gas engine at stoplights. All versions of the run on regular-octane gasoline.

2010 Ford Escape Safety and Reliability back to top

In government crash testing, the 2010 Ford Escape rates the maximum five stars for driver and passenger protection in frontal impacts and for side-impact protection for both driver and passengers. It earns three of five stars for rollover resistance when configured with either front- or all-wheel-drive.

The 2010 Ford Escape received “about average” ratings for initial quality and expected reliability by J.D. Power and Associates, the leading automotive consumer survey firm.

2010 Ford Escape Competition back to top

2010 Honda CR-V: The top-seller in the compact crossover segment, the CR-V is a little short on acceleration but otherwise performs its mission flawlessly and stylishly with plenty of refinement. A 180-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder is the only available engine, a five-speed automatic the sole transmission. Base price range is roughly $22,000-$29,000.

2010 Subaru Forester: Subaru’s small crossover is reasonably fun to drive, with crisp handling, an adequate 170-horsepower four-cylinder engine and a truly capable all-wheel-drive system. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, though the optional automatic only includes four forward gears. Base price range is roughly $21,000-$29,000.

2010 Toyota RAV4: This compact crossover somehow packs a small third row seat for at least theoretical seven-passenger seating. It’s the quickest of the bunch with a choice of a base 182-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine or an available 264-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6; the four uses a four-speed automatic transmission, the V-6 a five-speed automatic. Base price range is roughly $14,000-$21,000.