Car has noticeably more pep than others in its (size) class. The engine seems happy to respond to petal demands. Some others I've tested seem to rev for a second more before complying. Others just didn't have the "go".
Space for four medium sized adults and two dogs comfortably. Or more commonly, two adults and two dogs and their gear. Comfy for all parties.
Rear seats could be more comfortable, but certainly not "uncomfortable". Ridden back there on occasion. Backseats not contoured. Slips a bit on leather. Otherwise, fine if the driver is tame.
Seats that fold flat w/o having to remove them is a surprisingly useful feature. This is convenient if not a bit awkward at first. If done incorrectly, the seat belts leave imprint (not-permanent) on the leather.
Strong difference using 4x4 on wet pavement. 2x4 does not hold high speed turns well except on dry pavement.
Driven in heavy snow conditions with happy results. Easily handled uphill in snowy/icy conditions where other vehicles obviously suffered (since I passed many spinning tires). In on instance, my other car (Honda Accord) couldn't get up the driveway due to icing. The Escape made it look like the pavement was dry and clear.
Cabin noise is a notable concern - particularly on the highway at higher speeds. This is corrected in the newer models from that I understand. May try to reduce it using insulator.
Stock sound system is unimpressive. Didn't purchase sound package.
Leather has been favorable with two dogs traveling often (dog hair easier to clean). Leather has resisted scratches well. No complaints here.
Overhead cargo rack on the Sports Edition quite useful. Not just (but certainly helps) about the looks.