This is our family daily runner car. It was bought to replace a totalled 1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse. I believe it was a dealer demo car left over from the previous model year and we got it for several thousands under MSRP. The This is almost the 'bare bones' version, excluding auto tranny, cruise control. The exterior is honestly not half bad, in IMHO, looks better than most of the compact SUVs out there, and is the best looking out of the Escape/Tribute/Mariner family. The cabin is not disappointing, however for plastic nuts, it may be too cheap. There is also some poor fits between the panels and the most glaring one is the uneven fit of the Ford logo in the steering wheel.
The oil changes are relatively easy to do personally, so we do all of this at home... This is a lot cheaper than the dealerships.
The engine is the 2.3 litre Duratec, the same one used in the Focus and Mazda 3. Its perfectly fine in the city, and for normal highway conditions, but lacks the torque, especially with the sloggy auto box to make smooth passings, and feels sluggish in mountain roads. (I drove it through the I-5 corridor in South Oregon/Northern California.) I personally don't enjoy the horrid noise it makes when reving at more than 4k. But it may not be a problem for others.
The steering feels decent, and actually quite responsive. Handling is OK for a SUV, but body roll and rattles/creaking is apparent when going through a turn a tad faster than 'sedate.' On a run from Portland, OR to Los Angeles County, the long distances proved that the seats were a bit stiff and more than one rear end was sore at each rest stop. Wind noise is noticeable and drowns out most radio at highway speeds. The automatic cabin lights are a nice touch, and the utility of this car is great.
The dealerships in our area are generally good about handling little things like the accelerator, and recalls. We also had good experiences with them and our 2000 Expedition.
We don't pay that much attention to gas mileage, so I don't have information on that...