In terms of safety, the 2009 Ford Escape is not only a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but the SUV also earns five stars for front and side impacts from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The 2009 Escape does, however, have a few drawbacks: drum brakes in the rear and a lower-than-typical rollover rating.
The Escape comes equipped with Ford’s Personal Safety System: a combination of seven safety technologies, including new dual-stage front air bags, side air bags, and a front passenger sensor system. Anti-lock brakes, traction control, and electronic stability control are also standard.
Edmunds notes that "a rollover sensor" for the curtain airbags is standard, but on the downside, they point out that the Ford Escape's "rear brakes were downgraded to inferior drums in 2009, and the '09 Escape continues to bear this badge of shame." TheCarConnection.com’s editors remark that drum brakes bring added weight and inferior high-speed braking ability, but they cost less.
Some SUVs are notorious for their poor visibility, but the compact Ford Escape doesn't suffer from this common SUV criticism. In fact, ConsumerGuide proclaims that the Ford Escape offers "fine all-around visibility," thanks to its commanding driving position and large windows.