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Ford Escape arrived to battle the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4

Co-developed with Mazda, the Ford Escape joined the small SUV fray in 2001 to take on the likes of the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

Jon Wong
Jon Wong was a reviews editor for CNET Cars. He test drove and wrote about new cars and oversaw coverage of automotive accessories and garage gear. In his spare time, he enjoys track days, caring for his fleet of old Japanese cars and searching for the next one to add to his garage.
Jon Wong
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Launched for 2001, the Ford Escape slotted in below the Explorer in the Blue Oval's model lineup.

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Unlike the Explorer, the Escape was based on a unibody foundation for a more car-like ride quality.

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The Escape's base engine option at launch was a 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 130 horsepower and 135 pound-feet of torque. It came standard with a five-speed manual transmission.

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A 3.0-liter V6 served as the upgraded engine option with 200 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. That came connected to a four-speed automatic gearbox.

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All Escapes came standard with front-wheel drive, but four-wheel drive was available as an option.

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A more powerful 2.3-liter four-cylinder base engine arrived in 2005 with 153 horses.

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A hybrid powertrain was also added to the lineup in 2005 helping the Escape become the world's first hybrid SUV.

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Hybrid models with front-wheel drive received an estimated EPA rating of 30 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

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The Tribute being sold over at Mazda dealers was almost an exact Escape clone sharing a platform and drivetrains. However, the Mazda did feature slightly different fascias.

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Ford sold the first-generation Escape through the 2007 model year. 

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Click or scroll through for more of the Ford Escape.

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2001 Ford Escape

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2004 Escape

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FORD ESCAPE HYBRID-- The introduction of a hybrid electric version of the popular Ford Escape SUV in late 2003 will deliver nearly 40 mpg in city driving without sacrificing acceleration performance or cargo capacity. Available with four-wheel-drive, Escape Hybrid will truly be a "no-compromise" vehicle destined to forever change the public perception of HEVs.

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FORD ESCAPE HYBRID-- The introduction of a hybrid electric version of the popular Ford Escape SUV in late 2003 will deliver nearly 40 mpg in city driving without sacrificing acceleration performance or cargo capacity. Available with four-wheel-drive, Escape Hybrid will truly be a "no-compromise" vehicle destined to forever change the public perception of HEVs.

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