2003 Ford Escape XLT Sports Edition 3.0 V6 from North America


Easily one of the best small SUV - Worth a look


It's black and it shows dirt/dust marks easily.

No mechanical failures have cropped up even driven off-road daily.

General Comments:

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.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th April, 2004

16th Jan 2005, 17:37

IN comment to the Jeep Liberty and such, we are talking about the Escape and how nice a vehicle it is. If we wanted to pay more than we would be discussing the Jeep or 4 runner, this is about the Escape. Of course we could talk about BMW or Mecedes... they make the top class SUV.

Think that this commenter was merely stating their views on the intended SUV and not getting carried away.

I think this made my decision as I have two dogs and was debating leather vs. cloth.

Thanks for the great review!!

13th Dec 2007, 19:48

Another comment for the person comparing the Escape to the 4runner and Liberty... I believe the 4runner is comparable to the Explorer in size, not positive though. I do know the more accurate comparison to the Escape is the Highlander.

Two colleagues of mine have Jeep Liberties, and report about 13mpg vs. my 22mpg. Again, not a favorable comparison, unless talking about off-roading capability. The Liberty diesel gets better mileage, but costs significantly more, and has many reliability issues.

5th Nov 2010, 15:56

Bought a 2003 Escape Limited in spring of 2004 with 11,000 km (7,000 miles). It has performed flawlessly since then with 168,000 km. Just don't like the road noise and wind noise.

Mechanically it has been excellent, very good on snow and ice, and very sure-footed on slippery roads.

2003 Ford Escape XLS 3.0 from North America


Not impressed



Failed to start in extreme cold weather. 2 occasions (Despite block heater... dealer could not diagnose problem, says it was not plugged in. It was!)

Radio reception poor. (Replaced)

Fit/Finish issues:

Bottle of water leaked on front seat and left huge stain. (1 month old)

Both glass support struts on rear lift gate fell off. (1st @ 2 weeks, 2nd @ 15 months.)

Exterior molding at base of wheel well fell off.

Water leaks into vehicle through rear glass liftgate.

Rattles over rough road. Dealer can't find problem.

General Comments:


Lots of power.

Handles well on dry pavement.

Sharp looking SUV



If our vehicle is any indication, there are serious fit/finish quality control issues.

Rear seat fold-down design is awkward.

With 2WD version, driving on rutted snow packed roads is flat out dangerous. The vehicle has a tendency do random 180 degree spins while traveling at low speed. (<30kph)

We don't plan to hold onto this vehicle beyond it's warranty.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 23rd March, 2004

15th Jun 2005, 02:43

My Escape leaks through the rear glass tailgate too, probably need some new seals.

16th Jun 2005, 05:10

Sounds like your having troubles with your Vehicle however I don't see a water stain on the seat to be a defect most cars will stain if water is spilt on it.

18th Jan 2006, 11:46

I have a 2003 ford escape xls. It has 70000 miles on it. It has ran very good its whole life, and has more than enough power. Best handling SUV around. It is AWD 4x4 and gets 25 in city. It's not a hybrid. It looks good and drives good.

12th Nov 2010, 10:39

Random spins? Are you kidding me? So, you could just be driving on a regular road on a regular day.. then... it just spins out of control! WOW.. Is that an issue with the vehicle or the driver!?!?

A water stain on the seat.. oh no.. I really should look out for that.