News and Info
Registered: Jan 2002
And The Smart Money Winner Is . . .
<a href="http://escape-central.com>Ford Escape</a>
Built Ford Tough...
Ford Escape Wins
Best Small SUV Award!
: : : Escape Central News : : : SmartMoney Magazine : : :
A FEW YEARS AGO... the small SUV category barely existed. Today it's fiercely competitive, with a wide range of choices. But most people use small SUVs to hit the mall, not the mud, so we focused on five popular SUVs built on a car (not a truck) chassis, rating them on such factors as power, value, styling, ride, comfort and cargo space to select a SmartMoney Award winner.
Ultimately... the Ford Escape and all of its competition in our best small SUV test (the Toyoto RAV, the Honda CRV, the Saturn VUE and the Hyundai Santa Fe) are about compromises — after all, by their very definition, crossover SUVs have to balance the right elements of both cars and sport-utes.
With the smallest engine of this bunch, the RAV4 also is the lightest of these SUVs. It's sprightly from a stop but strains when passing on the highway or climbing hills. It also corners nimbly. The interior is uncluttered and attractive. Exterior styling has made great strides since the original jellybean-like RAV4, though it still looks rather Ňcute-ute.Ó While the low cargo floor makes loading easier, the tailgate that swings to the side, rather than up, is annoying in tight quarters. The rear seat's 50/50 split means that when you load long objects only one passenger can ride in the back.
The vue is part of Saturn's new focus on making its products as compelling as its buying experience, but it's just not compelling enough. The VUE is also the first small SUV to offer electric (versus hydraulic) power steering, which is meant to make maneuvering easier. The effect, though, is just the opposite. Steering feels rather numb at low speeds and, combined with a large turning radius for a car this size, makes squeezing into a tight parking spot unexpectedly difficult.
Hyundai Santa Fe GLS
Aesthetically, Hyundai's SUV does have several good sides: Its curvy styling is pleasing (albeit not particularly SUV-like) from all angles except the front. Unfortunately, the oddly bulging headlamps bring to mind the flared nostrils of a pig. But the interior is attractive and the dash well laid out. And you get plenty of features for a low price. The downside: This SUV is a bit of a snooze to drive compared with the Ford Escape or RAV4. Even with the V-6, acceleration can be sluggish, since the Santa Fe weighs a portly 3,752 pounds.
Honda CR-V EX
For all that the CR-V does right, the first impression when one slips into the driver's seat almost ruins it. The quirky layout of the controls, all in cheap-looking plastic, makes the car seem spartan. Besides the dash layout, I had a few other minor styling quibbles, such as the swing-out rear gate similar to the RAV4's (though it does have a flip-up rear windshield for loading small items). But on the upside, the CR-V offers some unique features that families with young children will appreciate, including a cargo floor that morphs into a removable picnic table and rear seats that slide forward and back to adjust cargo and leg room.
Ford Escape... In this case Ford happens to strike just the right balance with its popular Escape. Like the other four reviewed here, it has full-time four-wheel drive (power is directed to the front wheels under most conditions, shifting to all four wheels only when the system detects slippage). But unlike the other four SUVs, it offers decent towing capacity (up to 3,500 pounds) and a four-wheel-drive lock mode, ideal for mud or ice.
Plus... it actually looks the part of a rugged SUV. Considering that utility vehicles owe their popularity more to their sporty looks than to their actual off-road capabilities, it's surprising how many automakers opt for a softer station-wagon-on-steroids look for their crossovers. Not Ford. The Escape resembles the popular Explorer, albeit shrunken a bit. Inside, the theme continues; my test vehicle had the best interior of this group, with tan leather on the steering wheel and seats.
____Escape V6 features a class leading 201 Horsepower
The Escape also features the brawniest engine, a 3-liter V-6 that delivers a full 201 hp, by far the best in this group. And it's just as maneuverable and responsive as the rest of the crossovers, with tight steering and an independent suspension front and rear.
(C) WhatsNew @ Escape-Central
Other Ford Escape Product News:
Escape Sales ... HOT in September !!!
Ford Scraps Start of ESCAPE HYBRID Fleet Trials
Ford Creates a Crossover: Freestyle Update
NEWS: Coming SOON - New 2005 Escape Design!!
Breaking NEWS: Mercury's Escape Named MARINER!!! (Pics)
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