2011 Ford Escape

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
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Safety & Recalls
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Key Specs

of the 2011 Ford Escape. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Tough exterior styling
  • Comfortable, if floaty, ride
  • Large center console
  • Good sight lines
  • Low-speed steering ease

The Bad

  • Handling and braking
  • Noisy four-cylinder
  • Rudimentary interior
  • Several steps to fold backseat
  • No telescoping steering wheel

Notable Features of the 2011 Ford Escape

  • Self-parking option
  • Four-cylinder or V-6
  • Available manual transmission
  • Front- or all-wheel drive
  • Hybrid version available

2011 Ford Escape Road Test

Kelsey Mays

Even in its aged state, the 2011 Ford Escape still hits a sweet spot in terms of ride comfort, but its drab interior and clumsy handling leave it behind the increasingly flashy competition.

Car shoppers expressed their love for small crossovers more than a decade ago, and the auto industry responded. Today's vehicle  market offers a wide range of choices, from glorified hatchbacks to those just big enough to shoehorn in an impossibly small third row. Somewhere in the scrum is the Escape, a popular two-row model in its twilight years. Driving a midlevel Escape XLT back-to-back with eight competitors, one thing became apparent: The next Escape can't come soon enough.

The XLT sits between the entry-level XLS and range-topping Ford Escape Limited, all three of which can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive. Our test car had Ford's 2.5-liter four-cylinder; a V-6 is optional on the XLT and Limited. Click here to see Escape trims compared, and here to see the 2011 and 2010 Escape compared. The Ford Escape Hybrid and its gas-electric drivetrain are covered separately on Cars.com.

Comfortable Ride, Crummy Reflexes
In small crossover SUV vehicles, ride comfort is all over the board. There's the tolerable Chevy Equinox, the choppy Kia Sportage, and — with a ride refined over the years — the comfortable Escape. Ford's entry is one of the few in this category that earns that label, and not just in a relative sense. The suspension handles la...

Even in its aged state, the 2011 Ford Escape still hits a sweet spot in terms of ride comfort, but its drab interior and clumsy handling leave it behind the increasingly flashy competition.

Car shoppers expressed their love for small crossovers more than a decade ago, and the auto industry responded. Today's vehicle  market offers a wide range of choices, from glorified hatchbacks to those just big enough to shoehorn in an impossibly small third row. Somewhere in the scrum is the Escape, a popular two-row model in its twilight years. Driving a midlevel Escape XLT back-to-back with eight competitors, one thing became apparent: The next Escape can't come soon enough.

The XLT sits between the entry-level XLS and range-topping Ford Escape Limited, all three of which can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive. Our test car had Ford's 2.5-liter four-cylinder; a V-6 is optional on the XLT and Limited. Click here to see Escape trims compared, and here to see the 2011 and 2010 Escape compared. The Ford Escape Hybrid and its gas-electric drivetrain are covered separately on Cars.com.

Comfortable Ride, Crummy Reflexes
In small crossover SUV vehicles, ride comfort is all over the board. There's the tolerable Chevy Equinox, the choppy Kia Sportage, and — with a ride refined over the years — the comfortable Escape. Ford's entry is one of the few in this category that earns that label, and not just in a relative sense. The suspension handles larger bumps well enough, but it really shines over long stretches of highway. Pavement imperfections that filter up to the cabin in other crossovers simply don't in here. The Escape feels floaty at times — one editor bemoaned its ride for just that reason — but in terms of sheer comfort, Ford gets top marks.

Simple cruising aside, the Ford Escape's slow reflexes foil any chance of car-like maneuverability — a shame, given its steering is decent. The wheel has gobs of power assist at low speeds, making parking lots a cinch, and at higher speeds it takes on winding roads with lively precision. If only the rest of the Escape followed suit. It feels as top-heavy as the Space Needle — listing hard into corners, squatting back or pitching forward when you speed up or slow down. The brake pedal feels mushy and tentative, and the Escape's standard antilock brakes kick in quite early. Where other crossovers stop hard on all fours, the Escape's tail gets squirrely in the same exercise. Whether it's the low-tech rear drum brakes or the lean-happy suspension that's to blame, the results aren't inspiring.

Unrefined Engine
The Ford Escape's 2.5-liter four-cylinder gets you going briskly, albeit with a loud drone. A six-speed automatic is standard on all but the front-drive XLS, and it prefers to choose a gear and stay there. Although the transmission rarely hunts for gears, its stubbornness becomes a fault when you drone up an on-ramp in 4th or 5th with the pedal halfway to the floor. The four-cylinder engine has enough torque to make it, but more responsive transmission kickdown would help.

A 3.0-liter V-6 is optional, and its 240 horsepower considerably outpaces the four-cylinder's 171 hp. We've driven the V-6 in years past, and it's appreciably punchier, though still a bit raspy. It pairs with the standard six-speed automatic, and the combination makes the V-6 Escape a capable mover — not as quick as the V-6 Toyota RAV4, but sprightlier than the underwhelming V-6 Equinox. Like those two, the Ford also tows up to 3,500 pounds when properly equipped.

Combined EPA gas mileage for a front-drive, automatic four-cylinder is 23 mpg. All-wheel drive drops the rating to 22 mpg. Neither figure is particularly impressive, but the V-6 Escape's combined rating — 20 or 21 mpg, depending on driveline — rates more evenly with the V-6 competition.

Outdated Interior
Redesigned three model years ago, the Escape's interior feels rugged but low-rent. Our test car's optional piano-black trim and high-quality headliner were high points, but both are diminished by the surrounding sea of flimsy buttons and grainy dashboard plastics. What's more, the Escape remains one of the only crossovers in this class to forgo a telescoping steering wheel.

The half-baked features go on. Get an XLT or Limited, and the "power" driver's seat has a manual reclining adjustment. The optional heated front seats have only one heat level, and to lower the backseat you'll first have to yank out all three head restraints, flip the bottom cushions forward and stow the headrests. Your doctor might qualify this as exercise.

The front seats have decent headroom, and thanks to the Escape's upright windows and high roofline, sight lines are quite good. Unfortunately, legroom in the rear ranks near the bottom of the class. Adults will find it modest, and it would be downright tight if it weren't for that non-telescoping steering wheel, which generally makes drivers sit farther forward than they otherwise might.

Cargo room behind the rear passenger seats measures 31.4 cubic feet. However burdensome the seats are to fold, when you're done you'll have a flat cargo area with 67.2 cubic feet of volume. Given the Escape's relatively small exterior size, those figures aren't too shabby. In comparison, the Sportage and its Hyundai Tucson twin are about the same length but have well under 60 cubic feet of maximum volume.

Safety, Features & Pricing
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, the Escape earned the top rating, Good, in front, side and rear impacts. In the roof-strength test, however, the Escape achieved only a Marginal rating. The Escape has not yet been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration using its revamped 2011 standards. Standard safety features include six airbags, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system. Click here to see our evaluation of child-safety seats in the Escape, or here to see a full list of its safety features.

Reliability for the current generation has been so-so, with all-wheel-drive models in particular faring below average. That's disappointing in a segment that includes reliability all-stars like the Honda CR-V, the RAV4 and the non-turbo Subaru Forester.

Pricing starts at $21,215 for a front-drive Escape XLS. That's rather high for a small crossover, seeing as most buyers will want to fork over another $1,230 for the overpriced automatic. That transmission is standard on other trims and required for all-wheel drive. Standard features on the XLS include power windows and locks, remote entry, air conditioning, cruise control and alloy wheels. Check the options or move up trims, and you can get steering-wheel audio controls, heated leather seats, dual-zone climate control, Ford's USB/iPod-compatible Sync system, a moonroof, rear DVD entertainment and a navigation system. On any trim, all-wheel drive adds $1,750. On the XLT and Limited, the optional V-6 adds $1,195.

The Escape does pack some impressive technology features. Ford's self-parking option, which we checked out two years ago, is available on the Limited. The automaker's MyKey system, which allows parents to impose speed and stereo-volume limits for their teenage drivers, is standard.

With its panoply of options, the Escape can get pricey. Load up an all-wheel-drive V-6 Limited, and the price can top $36,000.

Escape in the Market
The Escape still boasts strong sales, but in recent years it's grown more expensive and less reliable — troublesome developments in a body-type segment where value and dependability really count. Ride comfort remains the Escape's main draw, but Ford needs to match that with a higher-quality interior and better handling. Here's hoping the next Escape — portended by Ford's well-received Vertrek concept — gets the job done.

Send Kelsey an email  

 


2011 Escape Video

Cars.com headed out to Pasadena, California to compare nine of the most popular SUVs for 2011. We were joined by MotorWeek and USAToday, using input from a real family: Joey & Chandie Lawrence.

Latest 2011 Escape Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.5)
Performance
(4.2)
Interior Design
(4.3)
Comfort
(4.4)
Reliability
(4.4)
Value For The Money
(4.3)

What Drivers Are Saying

(4.0)

Reliable but did start to nickle and dime me

by Kevinc from Erie,PA on September 11, 2018

My 2011 escape was a decent vehicle. I know several people who own them and have no problems. Mine on the other hand started to nickle and dime me after a couple years. Read full review

(5.0)

great vehicle

by Dawn & Jeff from Palmyra, pa on September 11, 2018

I love this Escape. has all the bells and whistles and handles like a dream. I plan on driving this vehicle for a long time. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2011 Ford Escape currently has 3 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2011 Ford Escape XLS

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
acceptable
Structure/safety cage
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
acceptable
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 60,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Ford

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement up to $30 per day, full tank of gas, vehicle history report, new wiper blades and fresh oil and filter

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    7 years from original new vehicle warranty start date or 100,000 miles. Powertrain Limited Warranty from original in-service date. 12- month/12,000-mile comprehensive limited warranty. See dealer for details. $100 deductible per visit.
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 80,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 172 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Escape received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker