The addition of numerous standard safety features, including side curtain airbags in late-2008 Escape models, helped quell much of the safety quibbles reviewers had with the compact SUV. Edmunds.com notes that anti-lock brakes, stability control, side and curtain airbags, and traction control are all standard on the Ford Escape, 2008 edition. According to Kelley Blue Book, the safety ratings of the 2008 Ford Escape are identical or better (minus the rollover rating) than similar models such as the Mazda Tribute, Mercury Mariner, and Saturn Vue.
Cars.com criticizes the three-star NHTSA rollover rating, noting that the 2008 Ford Escape is “one of only two car-based SUVs with a rating of three stars instead of four” (the Honda Element being the other). This is due in large part to the Escape’s high center of gravity. It is because of this increased rollover vulnerability that side curtain airbags are a must for those seeking an Escape--Ford’s Roll Stability Control system is also helpful here, effectively identifying the start of rollover and acting to stop it in some cases.