This is a pretty mean little SUV. I am a Realtor in "the valley of the sun" aka Phoenix, and I pound the hell out of it every day.
So far, I have taken it up north by Flagstaff in Feb of 05. I have the upgraded XLT package with the Continental Cointrac tires and side step package; also I have side airbags, a sunroof 2WD, and the security package. Those tires handled like a dream when I was hauling through the icy roads.
My claim to fame was when we took it off-road to get to my wife’s grandparents cabin, and there was a huge snow drift in front. My wife asked if I should... but before she was done, I hit the gas and blew through a 3 foot drift left by a snow plow. From there, we had to trudge through 2 foot high snow to get to the front door, and there was little effort involved. Remember, this is a front wheel model!
Down in the valley though, I'm usually trudging around in 115 degrees in the middle of July to August. We also have a true desert monsoon here as well, where you get pelted with huge sandstorms and lots of debris. So far my paint has held up, but I also wax it every two months if possible.
I take clients to homes all over the valley, locations in Queen Creek, Apache Junction, Surprise, Phoenix, Glendale, Gold Canyon etc... And only had one issue where my compressor went out. The good news is, Ford allows you to turn the ac off and it's still drivable. Yes, it was hot that day... but driving with the windows down beats the hell out of walking...
My normal cruising speed is 80 MPH on the valley freeways, and I have tested my car up to 95 with the Overdrive on, and the engine cuts… if you turn the overdrive off, you can get a little over 100 out of it. Seems there is a limiting chip inside it.
I have also hauled quite a lot in the back, and most everything I have hauled has fit (sometimes you have to open the glass on the tail and leave the door closed). I’ve done 8’ couches to landscaping materials (like fertilizer, brick, and ladders). Everything seems to slide right in the back, and dropping the seats takes all of 2 minutes?
The gas mileage is about right – 32-35 highway, 29 city, beats the bigger SUV’s by a ton. I would recommend the bra for those long trips as my front end is getting quite dinged up. I also found out that every XLT has a wire on the left side of the cargo wall that allows you to put in an outlet which you can order from the parts department. I had it installed, bought an electric cooler at Target with a hotel adapter, and now I can carry foods for much longer distances with no ice. Just like a mini fridge!
The sunroof is an awesome plus when it’s Feb through April out here, and I also use it on trips to San Diego in August. The security package comes in well when I drop all my windows in CA by the beach and lock her up. If someone try’s to pop the locks without the remote, I know it.
All in all, this is the best vehicle I have ever owned up to this time, and as you can see… 60,000 miles in 2 years….