Rent, Lease, Sell or Keep: 2001 Ford Escape

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
rent lease sell or keep 2001 ford escape

My brother-in-law was all of 21 years old when he bought his first house. Not just a regular dwelling… but one with two and a half acres and a lake. A two year work/study with John Deere along with four years of living at home yielded one heck of a lot of savings.

As graduation neared he asked me to find a vehicle that would be as good for his upcoming commutes as it would be for all of his ‘stuff’. I should mention that like me, my BIL Tommy buys everything on the cheap and fixes it up. Old motorycles, jet ski’s, tractors, boats, 20+ year old Porsches… I have yet to find a machine that he couldn’t bring back to life.

So I bought him a common hauler, that he turned into a one-of-a-kind.

Rent: Escapes are everywhere these days. Go to New York City and you’ll see plenty of Escape hybrids pulling taxi duty in the five boroughs. In the metro-areas they are used as grocery getters and commuter scooters. In rural areas, like the one my BIL chose for himself, they are haulers.

Not for the big stuff mind you but more than enough for the smaller ‘toys’. Despite their lightweight provincial duties, the overwhelming majority of these non-hybrid models have come with a thirsty 3.0 Liter Duratec V6. An engine that would remain with the Escape for over a decade. Although Ford saw fit to bump the horsepower rating of this relic from 200 to 240 in 2009, the Duratec still ‘drank’ gas as badly as most V6 engines did circa 1996.

Even in it’s 2001 launch, the 19 city / 25 hwy ratings were no better than most minivans from that era. But hey! They looked butch.

As a renter this vehicle would be a fine value. Durable, fashionable, and cheap to fix. But the Duratec 4-speed combo was not what I bought.

Lease: I got him the 5-speed, 4-cylinder model combination. Why? Well, because he wanted a five speed and his budget was no more than $7000. It was bought in the thick of the Katrina aftermath for $5900. This was the first time in decades when people had to wait in line for gas and their was a true sense of fear amongst the Atlanta citizenry. A fear that took a long time to dissipate.

Gas stations were gouging the local populace. I remember many were jacking the gas prices right when folks were headed back from work. Long lines ensued and by the weekend Atlanta would be pumped to near depletion. The fear machine that is local news media beat the drum of fear endlessly for hours on end.

This meant that on the following Monday I had to pay about $900 more than expected for a four-year old Escape with a check engine light, unloved 5-speed, and 102k miles.I bought it on the high side. But with daily announcements by the Pavlovian media that gas shortages would likely last for months, I decided to bite the bullet and move forward.

Sell: It turned out to be a good bullet to bite. One sensor. A few other minor things, and the retail purchase ended up being a bit less than $7000. Then he drove it all over the place for over six years.Up to Iowa for multiple John Deere meetings and training seminars. Through all states far and wide for motorcycle rides and lakefront get togethers.

Today the vehicle is now showing 212k and has plenty of good life left in it.If I had sold it, I would have made about $1500. I think it would have gone for around $8000 back in 2005. But I’m glad we kept it in the family.

Keep: A few other modifications were done in the first six months. Tommy has a penchant for finding cheap vehicles on Craigslist. Old Honda motorcycles molderizing in a granny’s garage. Boats that haven’t been used since the owners moved inland.

In the Escape’s case, Tommy was able to find a full leather interior for the Escape. Cost pre-tears and wears? $150. So now Tommy enjoys the best of both ‘Escapist’ worlds. A cheap ride that can haul most of his toys… and a comfortable distance runner that has constantly returned 27 mpg in the midwestern flatlands. For SUV’s at the turn of the early 2000’s, these were good numbers.

Buying cars for family can be one of the most challenging things to do. In this case, I chose wisely.
Join the conversation
2 of 30 comments
  • Terry Terry on Nov 28, 2011

    N8 and all: I work on them EVERY DAY, and although there were some trans failures, I rarely saw them other than the '01 model year. '05 and '06 were much improved over the '01--04 models. Most rattles center around the rear hatch and struts, and it's glass and struts. Krytox lube in the strut ball joints took out most of the rattles there. Front sway bar links get loose and rattle, usually after 40K--50K miles. The alternator replacement: Not a hard job--- 1) Disconnect battery negative cable 2) Remove right front wheel and inner fender splash shield 3) Rotate belt tensioner, remove belt 4) Remove axle nut and 2 lower strut-to-spindle bolts and nuts 5) Remove engine crossmember brace and drop exhaust from both manifolds(2 nuts front, 2 bolts rear) 6) Pull spindle outward, remove outer axle joint from wheel bearing 7) Remove 2 nuts holding inner axle joint to engine bracket, then remove axle assembly 8) Remove alternator from engine bracket(3 bolts) and push alternaor into rear lower corner of engine compartment. 9) Remove alternator bracket from engine(3 bolts) 10)Disconnect the gang plug and B+ eyelet from alternator, and rotate downward to remove from vehicle. Sounds long and involved, I know, but usually takes no more than an hour to an hour and a half following these steps.

  • Ian Anderson Ian Anderson on Nov 29, 2011

    I have a buddy in Ohio that bought one of these at a gov't auction, four cylinder, stick shift with the true 4WD. Had rust over the arches and had 145K on it and was $2K. Was a nice trucklet and ran decently. It ran good but it wasn't deer proof!

  • Saeed Hello, I need a series of other accessories from Lincoln. Do you have front window, front and rear lights, etc. from the 1972 and 1976 models
  • Probert Wow - so many digital renders - Ford, Stellantis. - whose next!!! They're really bringing it on....
  • Zerocred So many great drives:Dalton Hwy from Fairbanks to the Arctic Circle.Alaska Marine Highway from Bellingham WA to Skagway AK. it was a multi-day ferry ride so I didn’t actually drive it, but I did take my truck.Icefields Parkway from Jasper AB to Lake Louise AB, CA.I-70 and Hwy 50 from Denver to Sacramento.Hwy 395 on the east side of the Sierras.
  • Aidian Holder I'm not interested in buying anything from a company that deliberately targets all their production in crappy union-busting states. Ford decided to build their EV manufaturing in Tennessee. The company built it there because of an anti-union legal environment. I won't buy another Ford because of that. I've owned four Fords to date -- three of them pickups. I'm shopping for a new one. It won't be a Ford Lightning. If you care about your fellow workers, you won't buy one either.
  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?