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Ford's new little brother SUV:
Paying Tribute to a sporty Escape

By Martha Hindes

Sporty Tendencies

I wanted to love this truck.

When I first saw Ford's new Escape compact sport utility it seemed exactly right for someone who didn't want an oversized SUV: Not too big, a little stingier on the gas, a little more nimble to ease into a garage or parking space for those intimidated by anything too hunky.

Sure, it probably would have less fortitude on the really tough off-road venues than its competitor, the fabled Jeep Wrangler, was known for taking in stride. The Jeep's truck frame and gutsy low-gear four-wheel-drive were designed to do the seemingly impossible such as climb insurmountable boulders and skid down steep, treacherous mountainsides with roller coaster excitement. The Escape, on strengthened carlike underpinnings, might not have as much mountain goat inside.

But the Escape and its Mazda Tribute sibling, with a little more civility built in, seemed to offer the best of both worlds. That was the perception waiting when I finally had keys in hand and the opportunity to try it out.

The Bottom Line

What a disappointment when I first sat down on the leather seat of the XLT V6 model provided for a test. It seemed a little too short for someone with long legs (an unsettling indicator that maybe this was designed as - banish the thought - a woman's car). It seemed to bulge up just behind the knees in a very uncomfortable way. Was it the sturdiness of the leather or just the configuration of the design? I couldn't tell.

But I wasn't about to give up on this vehicle that seemed to have everything else going for it. So I switched to a stick shift version with cloth seats that were a little more giving and forgiving that yielded a perceptibly greater degree of comfort.

To Each its own |
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