My sister has an 02 Ford Escape, with less than 50k miles, that has eaten the transmission despite following manufacturers maintenance schedule.
With only minor online research, I have found that this problem is pervasive, the number one complaint. Ford has denied any accountability (due to age, NOT mileage). This is a clear case of an inferior product being pawned off on an unsuspecting public.
When I spoke with the service manager at the Ford dealership, I was told that Ford was now upgrading their truck transmissions to use five pinion planetary gear sets as opposed to three pinion (he did not know if this was true for the Escape). To me, this indicates that there was a durability issue with their transmissions and they know it, yet refuse to offer any remedy for people with the problem units.
Transmission problems is the #1 complaint I have found in my research, by a two to one margin. There were no warning signs that there was any kind of transmission problem until it went completely out, eliminating any chance of getting a repair done while it was still a small problem instead of experiencing a catastrophic failure and being stranded hundreds of miles from home.
A person at Ford Customer Relations basically told me "Oh well, she was told when she bought the extended warranty that it was time or mileage whichever comes first, so she's on her own." I responded that transmissions do not go bad sitting in the garage and that 50k miles was not an acceptable lifespan for a major component, like a transmission." I was then told that Ford would do nothing, "is there anything else I can 'help' you with?"
Also, Brake rotors wore out before the pads. Dealer told me this is normal. REALLY?