17 Best and Not-So-Great Years of the Ford Escape: Top Hits and Misses

2024 Ford Escape Platinum AWD

Having spent years as a mechanic and testing numerous cars, I’ve had the privilege of getting up close and personal with many vehicles, including the Ford Escape. Over the years, I’ve seen the highs and lows of this model, and today, I’m here to share my insights with you.

Let’s get into the best and worst years of the Ford Escape, based on my experiences. The Ford Escape has been a favorite among families since its introduction in 2000 like Ford Focus also.

It’s not just Ford enthusiasts who appreciate them; even fans of competing brands have shown their admiration. The fourth-generation Escape, in particular, aims to maintain its popularity in the U.S. by being both practical and stylish.

But like all vehicles, the Escape has had its share of ups and downs.

The Worst Years of the Ford Escape

2013: The Year to Avoid

The 2013 Ford Escape takes the crown for the worst year, earning the infamous “avoid like the plague” badge. This model year presented a plethora of issues, with three major problems surfacing well before the 100,000-mile mark.

From transmission failures to sudden engine shutdowns, this year was riddled with challenges.

Common Issues:

  • Transmission failure
  • Faulty Power steering
  • The engine shut down unexpectedly

2014: Close Second

2014 Ford Escape SEThe 2014 model year wasn’t much better. Labeled with the “Beware of the clunker” warning, the most common issue for this year was the transmission failing around 70,000 miles.

Additionally, many reported the engine frequently overheating.

Common Issues:

  • Transmission failure
  • Engine overheating
  • Improper transmission shifting

2001: The Early Troubles

The 2001 Ford Escape also made it to the list of top 3 worst years. Engine cooling was the most common problem for this model, even more so than gearbox failure.

With the “Avoid like the plague” badge, it’s clear that this year had its fair share of challenges.

Common Issues:

  • Transmission failure
  • Rough engine performance
  • Clogged catalytic converter

2005: The Recalled Year

2005 Ford Escape XLT WThe 2005 model had several recalls, which put a dent in its reputation. From issues with the hybrid system to problems with the powertrain, it was a challenging year for the Escape.

Common Issues:

  • Hybrid system malfunctions.
  • Powertrain problems lead to reduced performance.
  • Several recalls affected its reliability.

2011: The Problematic Power Steering

2011 Ford Escape Limited AWDThe 2011 Ford Escape had issues with its power steering, with many owners reporting failures. This led to increased steering efforts and potential safety concerns.

Common Issues:

  • Power steering failure.
  • Transmission glitches.
  • Engine cooling problems.

2006: The Rust Concerns

The 2006 model had problems with rust, especially in the rear wheel wells. This not only affected the vehicle’s aesthetics but also raised concerns about its longevity.

Common Issues:

  • Rust formation in the rear wheel wells.
  • Transmission hiccups.
  • Engine stalling issues.

2012: The Overheating Engine

2012 Ford Escape Limited 3.0 POVThe 2012 Ford Escape had issues with the engine overheating, leading to potential safety risks. Many owners reported having to stop and let the engine cool down during long drives.

Common Issues:

  • Engine overheating.
  • Transmission glitches.
  • Faulty air conditioning system.

2015: The Infotainment Glitches

2015 Ford Escape TitaniumWhile the 2015 model introduced several tech features, it also came with its share of infotainment system glitches. Many users reported issues with the touchscreen responsiveness and connectivity.

Common Issues:

  • Infotainment system glitches.
  • Transmission delays.
  • Engine performance inconsistencies.

The Best Years of the Ford Escape

2023: The Pinnacle of Perfection

The 2024 Ford Escape stands out as the best year, ranking as one of the most fuel-efficient SUVs. This model year is a gem with the least reported problems and high ratings on authoritative automobile websites.

The 2024 Escape boasts updated styling, a new infotainment system, and new trim levels.


  • Spacious interior with up to 65.4 cubic feet of storage capacity.
  • Fuel efficiency of up to 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.

2007: Old but Gold

2007 Ford Escape XLT 4X4 BlackThe 2007 Ford Escape might have an exterior design that’s a bit dated for modern tastes, but it shines in other areas. Its spacious interior, large trunk, and dependable powertrain make it a top pick.

The fact that it had fewer issues than its predecessors is a testament to its reliability.


  • Practical cargo space with up to 66.3 cubic feet of storage.
  • Fuel efficiency of up to 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.

2019: Modern Marvel

2019 Ford EscapeThe 2019 Ford Escape is notable for its abundance of high-quality features. This model stands out for its large cargo capacity, quick steering response, and robust engines.

Its 1.5-liter engine is among the most fuel-efficient available, making it perfect for long journeys.


  • Practical cargo space with up to 68 cubic feet of storage.
  • Fuel efficiency of up to 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

2010: The Hybrid Highlight

2010 Ford Escape XLTThe 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid was a significant leap forward in terms of fuel efficiency. It boasted an impressive 34 mpg in the city, making it one of the most fuel-efficient SUVs of its time.


  • Exceptional fuel efficiency for an SUV.
  • Regenerative braking system.
  • Quiet and smooth hybrid drive.

2016: The Tech-Forward Year

The 2016 model was all about technology. With the introduction of the enhanced SYNC 3 system and other tech features, it was a favorite among the tech-savvy crowd.


  • SYNC 3 infotainment system with improved responsiveness.
  • Enhanced safety features like blind-spot monitoring.
  • Turbocharged engine options for better performance.

2004: The Reliable Workhorse

The 2004 Ford EscapeThe 2004 Ford Escape was known for its reliability. Many owners reported crossing the 200,000-mile mark without significant issues, making it a favorite for those looking for a dependable vehicle.


  • Durable and reliable engine performance.
  • Spacious interior design.
  • Affordable maintenance costs.

2018: The Comfort King

2018 Ford EscapeThe 2018 model focused on enhancing the comfort level for both the driver and passengers. With improved seating and a quieter cabin, it was a hit among families.


  • Enhanced seating with better lumbar support.
  • Quieter cabin with improved insulation.
  • Advanced safety features, including lane departure warning.

2009: The Transition Model

2009 Ford Escape XLT2009 was a transition year for the Ford Escape, with several improvements over the previous models, especially in terms of design and engine performance.


  • Introduction of a new 6-speed automatic transmission.
  • Improved exterior design.
  • Enhanced safety features.

The Evolution of the Ford Escape

2008-2012: The Transition Years

The period between 2008 and 2012 was a transformative one for the Ford Escape. These years marked a shift from the classic boxy design to a more modern and streamlined look.

The 2009 model, in particular, was a standout, with Ford introducing a new 6-speed automatic transmission.

Noteworthy Features:

  • Introduction of the 6-speed automatic transmission.
  • Enhanced safety features, including the addition of a rearview camera.
  • Improved fuel efficiency, especially in the hybrid models.

2013-2019 The Tech Revolution

These years were significant for tech enthusiasts. Ford introduced the SYNC 3 infotainment system, which was a game-changer. The touchscreen was more responsive, and the system was compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

I remember testing the 2016 model and being impressed by the seamless integration of technology.

Noteworthy Features:

  • Introduction of the SYNC 3 infotainment system.
  • Enhanced driver assistance features, including adaptive cruise control.
  • EcoBoost engines offer a balance of power and fuel efficiency.

2020-2022: The Hybrid and Electric Era

The most recent years have seen Ford making strides in the hybrid and electric vehicle market. The 2020 model introduced a plug-in hybrid variant, a significant step forward.

The electric range and overall fuel efficiency were commendable. As someone who’s always been curious about the future of automobiles, these advancements were exciting to witness.

Noteworthy Features:

  • Introduction of the plug-in hybrid variant.
  • Enhanced battery life and electric range.
  • Advanced safety features, including lane-keeping assist and automatic emergency braking.

Personal Experiences with the Ford Escape

The 2005 Model

I recall working on a 2005 Ford Escape that belonged to a close friend. The vehicle had clocked over 150,000 miles, and yet, it ran smoothly.

We took a road trip together, and the Escape handled the mountainous terrains with ease. It’s moments like these that make you appreciate the engineering behind such vehicles.

Memorable Moments:

  • The smooth drive through winding mountain roads.
  • The spacious interior comfortably fits all our camping gear.
  • The reliability, even after so many miles on the odometer.

The 2017 Model

2017 Ford EscapeIn 2017, I had the chance to test the latest Ford Escape model. The turbocharged engine was a delight, and the advanced tech features added to the overall driving experience.

I remember a particular instance when the automatic emergency braking system kicked in, preventing a potential collision. It’s innovations like these that highlight the progress Ford has made over the years.

Memorable Moments:

  • The turbocharged engine’s exhilarating performance.
  • The advanced tech features enhanced safety and convenience.
  • The sleek design turned heads wherever we went.

Frequently Asked Questions

What year did the Ford Escape have a bad transmission?

The Ford Escape faced transmission issues for several years, but the 2013 and 2014 models were particularly notorious for transmission failures.

Can a Ford Escape last 20 years?

With proper maintenance and care, a Ford Escape has the potential to last 20 years. However, longevity depends on factors like driving conditions, frequency of use, and adherence to recommended service schedules.

What years did Ford use the CVT transmission?

Ford introduced the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) primarily in some models during the mid-2000s, notably in the Ford Freestyle and Ford Five Hundred from 2005 to 2007.

Do 2012 Ford Escapes have transmission problems?

Yes, some 2012 Ford Escape owners reported issues with the transmission, including overheating and glitches in shifting.

Which Fords have transmission problems?

Several Ford models over the years have faced transmission issues. Apart from the Ford Escape, models like the Ford Focus and Ford Fiesta, especially from the 2011-2016 period, have had notable transmission problems.

Is CVT better than automatic?

Both CVT and traditional automatic transmissions have their pros and cons. CVTs offer smoother acceleration and can be more fuel-efficient, while traditional automatics might provide a more familiar driving experience and can be more durable in some cases.

Is Ford CVT any good? 

Ford’s CVT had mixed reviews. While it provided a smoother driving experience and improved fuel efficiency in some models, there were also reports of reliability issues and premature failures in the mid-2000s.

Final Words

The world of automobiles is vast and ever-evolving. Whether you’re a Ford enthusiast or just someone looking to understand more about vehicles, it’s essential to stay informed.

The Ford Escape, with its rich history and varied performance over the years, serves as a testament to the highs and lows of automotive engineering. As always, when considering a vehicle purchase or seeking insights, thorough research and understanding are key.

Drive safe and stay informed

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