What kind of off roading are you talking about? If you are talking fast fire roading or sand and beach, I would say yes. If you are talking about mud, rock, and what you see at most 4x4 parks then no. The 4x4 Liberty has a transfer case with a low range which the Escape does not. That will be the limiting factor off road.
Yes, fire roads, sand would be great. Also, like alot of other vehicles I want it to look better on the street also. I am looking for 2" lift, bigger wheels and tires,brush or front end guards along with computer chips, intake and exhaust mods. I have looked through magazines and to date haven't found any advertisers doing parts for the Escape.
There is a reason the Liberty weighs A LOT more than the Escape and some of that relates to a stronger structure to hold up in off-roading.
That is not necessarily true. A Suzuki Samurai weights less than a Escape and is a great off road vehicle completely stock. However a Samurai has a true frame unlike most CUV's like the Escape, Liberty, etc. which are unibody construction. Unibodies can be beefed up however. Look at the Jeep Cherokees which are also unibody and are very capable off road too.
gregorymp - hopefully others can help you as I have not looked into modding my 2007 Mariner yet. What I will tell you is try to keep it as low as possible as the more you raise the COG the worse the vehicle handles in off camber situations. Even in fast fire road switchbacks the lower COG will help a lot. I view the Escapes and Mariners sort of the way I view my former Subaru Impreza RS 2.5 that I had prepped for rally racing.
The gears on the escape aren't really designed for off roading except for light conditions. The 16" rims with a better tire for traction would help also. There are some videos showing escapes going into heavy off-roading, but they appear to be modified a little.
As has been mentioned, two limiting factors for the escape, are low ground clearence and tires. Get the 2" lift a good set of BFG's would be a good start. A great help would be if quafie or torson would make a lsd for the escape. I have a liberty and it's nice to have low range, it really isn't used all that much, but at times, it can be a God send. I use to take my 01 4x4 escape wheeling in the mountains of W,Va, mostly old logging roads and the such, it did better than I thought it would. I pushed to the point of abuse at times, but it never left me walking. It does have it's limitations, once you learn them, they can be alot of fun offroad. The unibody isn't that much of a factor unless your boulder climbing or something. The new jeep patriot will be on a plateform similar to the escape, it will have a sudo low range in the auto tranny as an option, I bet people will lift it and wheel it. I wouldn't be surprised to see the compass show up on the trails and it's worse than the escape, but because it say's jeep, you know it's gonna happen. If the escape had a lift, some good tires, a lsd and say lets say, a set of 4:10 gears, I think it would be pretty capable offroad, it wouldn't be no liberty, but it would hold it's own for what it is. I don't think it would have to take a back seat to the compass or patriot. I had a lot of fun with mine in stock trim.
Over-all Escapes are a really nice vehicle for family fun, which is what they were intended for. They have a great look, and roomy interior. The duratec 2.3 is peppy, and the six is great. Among many of it's other vehicles, Ford got this SUV right!
Over-all Escapes are a really nice vehicle for family fun, which is what they were intended for. They have a great look, and a roomy interior. The duratec 2.3 is peppy, and the six is great. Among many of it's other vehicles, Ford got this SUV right!
There is a group of Honda CRV owners that wheel at Paragon Park in PA. The CRV is very similar in design as the Escape. Don't know how much of a aftermarket there is for off roading equipment for either of these vehicles, but you can always fab things for them which is what I believe the CRV owners did. Just putting on more aggressive tires and skid plating in the right places alone you would be surprised what you could do with one.
I know they make a 2" lift, and finding a set of BFG AT KO's wounldn't be a problem. I know there's roof baskets and offroad lighting that would work. As Ronin007 say's, you would have to fab some skid plates, I didn't, but should have hee hee. Depending on what auto tranny they escape has, there be a lsd for it, there is for the focus and I believe the contour and couger crowd, if the escape shares a tranny with them,"maybe". Also mazda speed has a lsd for some applications, so there's a possability there may be one for it if one dug into it deep enough. With a lift, some tires and a lsd, I'm telling ya it wouldn't be that bad of a trail buggy, from my experience with playing around with a stock one.
I take my '05 XLT into the National Forests a lot, mostly off pavement on service and logging roads. I've been very happy with the XLT. I've got almost 80k miles and everything is running great. Here are the mods I've made:
1. SCT XCalibrator computer tuner: has greatly improved BOTH fuel economy and performance. I recommend this above other mods.
2. Weapon-R air induction kit. At thee time, this was the only one I could find for the '05. I also think you could fabricate one from parts from Pep Boys.
3. Gibson exhaust--they make one that's relatively quiet.
4. Hankook Dynapro AT RF08 tires. I think the latest versions are less aggressive, but I love mine.
5. Airlift airbags in the rear shocks. These really help with stability.