Now that we’ve had a chance to meet our contestants and record some initial impressions, it’s time to get closer to a decision. So let’s run down the list and deliver the bad news:
- Jeep Liberty – Out. Too thirsty, cramped driver’s foot well, no more roomy than the Jeep Patriot.
- Jeep Patriot – Out. Too quirky, CVT, overall quality does not compare well even to other base models.
- Ford Taurus – Out. Too big, too frumpy (despite contemporary exterior).
- Ford Fusion – Out. Limited rear seat room, restrictive outward rear visibility, AWD only available with V6.
- Ford Escape – In. Good quality and utility, decent mileage with 4-cylinder 4WD.
- Chevy Equinox – Out. Too thirsty for mainly a commuter, though rear seat legroom was the absolute best of the group (even the Taurus), and good build quality.
- Honda CR-V – In. Legendary Honda quality and equipment even in base trim, good economy.
- Subaru Forester – Out. Even with the 2009 redesign it feels cheaper than it is, unusual and uncomfortable rear seat with center fold out cup holder.
- Toyota RAV4 – Out. Also well regarded for quality, but just too odd.
Now that we have our finalists, let’s look at a head-to-head comparo courtesy of Edmunds.com. In many respects the Honda clearly has the edge – quality, slightly more room, slightly better economy (especially when looking at Edmunds’ True Cost to Own calculator), and edges out the Escape in safety ratings – though the IIHS recently named both the Escape and the CR-V as Top Safety Picks for 2008 for small SUVs. The Escape, according to the stats, trails the CR-V by a small margin.
As is often the case, statistics don’t tell the whole story. In subjective impressions, the Ford scored higher with the primary driver of whatever would become our next vehicle. Working with dealers, we also found that there was more room to maneuver on price (especially on the last day of the month) with the Ford than the very popular Honda. And being played as a wildcard, the Escape also came with with a no-deductible lifetime drivetrain warranty at no additional cost (though, of course, it’s embedded in the overall cost somewhere). So as you’ve already figured out, our winner in the 2008 Car Shopping Shootout is… no drumroll please,
The Ford Escape.
Our winner will be available for questions and photos on your way out, and thank you for watching.