The 2008 Ford Escape, the smallest SUV in its maker's line-up, has returned for the new model year with changes inside and out, and a lower pricetag as well. If you've waited until now to consider the vehicle referred to in Canada as the "cute ute," you're definitely getting more for your money. The base model will have a starting MSRP of $19,245, which includes destination charges of $665, and is still $740 less than the current model. Over the entire Escape line, the average price drop is about $1100.
Cosmetically, this Escape has been a face-lift. It will still have a family resemblance obvious to anyone who has ever seen one of Ford's SUV's, but it will sport a scaled-down, squarer version of the trapezoid-shaped grille shared by the Explorer and Expedition, as well as cleaner sides, with less plastic. Inside, the Escape will share environmentally-friendly seating surfaces made entirely of recycled materials with its hybrid sibling.
Additional interior modifications include Ford's new "top of dash" instrument layout, that puts climate control information, radio functions, and temperature displays at the top of the dashboard, so the driver can glance there without having to divert much attention from the road. As well, the center console has dials and buttons that poke through, as opposed to the old "brick design" previously favored by Ford. The instruments themselves have also been updated, and now feature ice blue lights to replace the former green.
Safety features on the Escape have been improved as well, with side-curtain airbags and Ford's "AdvanceTrac" stability control system are now standard, instead of optional. Electric power-assisted steering technology that has been designed to reduce engine noise and improve fuel economy, has also been added.
Under the hood of the 2008 Ford Escape, there will either be 2.3 liter, 153 horsepower four-cylinder engine with options for a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission, or the high trim level's 3.0 liter V6 engine mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. The latter provides a towing capacity of up to 3500 pounds.
In addition to the two gasoline-powered versions of the Ford Escape, there will also be a Ford Escape Hybrid.