THE SELL: SUV perks with sports-sedan handling.
THE TEST: Ford borrowed the stiff chassis and go-kart steering from its sporty Focus sedans to make this AWD crossover the most playful “cute ute” we drove. And it did so without compromising utility: the Escape’s 1.6-liter turbo engine gets 33mpg on the highway and still delivers enough power to leapfrog trucks up steep grades. The Escape’s all-wheel drive can send as much as 100 percent of torque to either axle, which makes creeping up slippery driveways easier. Another bonus: the interior fits two road bikes.
THE VERDICT: With eight inches of clearance, this crossover is capable of off-roading but doesn’t penalize you with a truck-like ride or poor fuel economy. 23mpg city/33 hwy