Handles extremely well and has a softer, more car-like ride than most 4x4s.
Very spunky engine -- easy to bark the tires.
Transmission shifting is unpredictable, but functions well in tandem with the engine.
Excellent fuel economy for an SUV (I average 24 mpg).
Plenty of room for passengers in the rear and plenty of cargo space.
Spare tire stowage in tidy, hidden compartment in the cargo area is a nice touch.
Controls are easy to reach and read.
Vehicle is well-equipped; the optional Mach sound system and sunroof are fantastic.
Brake dust on front wheels is annoying, but not uncommon for vehicles in this class.
Now for personal comments. I used to drive a Ford Aerostar and had 12 long years of service with that van. When it was time to look for another vehicle, I was looking for fuel economy and functionality, and I didn't want a car. The Escape answered every need. I absolutely love my little get-around. It is comfortable and capable and I'm looking forward to having it for many years. I trust Ford products and they've got a real winner with this little SUV. It is priced a bit more than others in its class, but it is worth it.