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STYLING | 8 out of 10
Exterior changes are subtle
receives a redesigned center stack
Not even a thorough interior and exterior refresh could save the 2008 iteration from a seventh-place finish
Car and Driver
It's among the last survivors of a dying breed, and the SUV-lookalike 2011 Ford Escape is about to give up on its sport-ute roots entirely. This year the carryover Escape still has the squared-off countenance, tall glass areas and boxy countenance that it's had for a few years--ever since Ford put the styling in the design microwave back in 2008. Is it obsolete or more desirable than all those rounded, smooth crossovers? We're still happy with the chunky stance, but even Ford sees the future of all-weather wagons--and it's planning an Escape replacement that's way softer and far more nuanced than this Explorer echo ever has been.
The Escape's interior redo--also a few years ago--brought its ergonomics up to date and lent some of the same SUV credo to the cabin, even though it went through a low-rent corner of plastic city to get there. The center stack is taller and more upright, a metaphor for the rest of the vehicle, and on vehicles with the navigation system it harbors a big, bright LCD screen that contrasts heavily with the rest of the cockpit, even before you crank up the bright lights on its Settings panel.
Bless its boxy heart, the 2011 Ford Escape still looks more like an SUV than it does like a crossover--a good thing, save for the hard surfaces inside.