10 Months With a Ford Escape: A Lesson in Compromise

This is a story about what happens when you try to act like an adult.

·I had to pull this off the dealer ad since I had virtually no pics of it (Photo Credit: West-Herr Subaru)

It was October, 2014. I had recently moved back to my hometown of Buffalo, NY and after a Summer of chaos, I was finally settled into a normal lifestyle (If you can consider living with your parents, wife, 4-year old, 2-year old, and 3-100+lb dogs normal.) Since we didn’t want to move in the Winter, we had decided that house-hunting would not commence until springtime. To me, this meant it was time to go car-shopping!

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I had a 2011 Subaru WRX that I bought CPO’d back in 2012. While it was fine for hauling the kids around and fun to drive (especially for winter-hoonage), it also had its quirks. Plus my wife can’t drive a manual transmission.

When I bought the car, it came with a Magnaflow 3” exhaust installed. It was LOUD, droney, and overall made the car rather hard to drive long distances. I installed both roll-on and foam sound dampening to try to quiet it down with little success. While I could have just found a stock exhaust, I decided that it was time to move into something more Grown-up.

My 2011 WRX

So, after much research, contemplation, and deal hunting, I had tentatively decided upon a 2015 Ford Taurus SHO ordered with no options but the Performance Package. This car checked all the boxes; AWD, well over 300hp, roomy, and something I could put on a track. With incentives, rebates, and whatever Ford-Pricing-Plan that I had, I could get it under $40,000. Now you might be saying “Hey, the title says this is about a Ford Escape! Why is he talking about a Taurus.”

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This is where a little voice, I’ll call him ‘Mr. Sensible’, started talking to me in my head:

“40k just for something that you can DD-year round, and put on the track? You will have to subject it to horrible Buffalo winters and then you have to worry about all the added wear and tear of track-days.

Why don’t you buy something more affordable, and practical and leave all your high-speed antics to your Mazda RX-8”

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This certainly made a lot of sense. Listening to ‘Mr. Sensible’ certainly seemed like the Grown-up thing to do. So I decided on a Ford Escape. I more or less did this because I was already set on buying a Ford and was now too exhausted with the car-buying process to completely start over. The dealership I was at had about 3-million Escapes on their lot, so finding one optioned how I wanted it was pretty easy. I ended up with a Titanium Gray, 2014 Ford Escape Titanium with the 2.0t, AWD, and the Tow-package.

All-in-all, it was a pretty nice CUV. I liked some of the technology it had like the keyless-entry, hands-free liftgate, memory seats, and the centralized interface. The 2.0t was peppy, and when in Sport-Mode, it provided a bit of fun. I also purchased some Bridgestone Blizzak WS80’s to contend with Buffalo’s harsh winters and it had no issue getting around. It was also quite roomy and I could haul my wife, kids, and 100lb German Shepherd quite comfortably. My wife enjoyed driving it too and she was happy having a back-up car if something happened to her car (A 2009 Mazda-5).

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So, what’s the problem here? By the above description, the Escape seems like a pretty good choice for a daily-driver. And in all honesty, it probably would be a great vehicle for most drivers.

The problem is, I’m not “Most Drivers.”

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I was still filling out paperwork to buy the car when I took this photo.

After about 2-months, I started to lose interest in the Escape. Things that used to be fun in my WRX, or Mazda RX-8 (which I also own as a summer-only car), like on-ramps and off-ramps at way-too-fast speeds, going WOT to redline, hooning around in snow, or rowing through the gears have become bland, harrowing, downright dangerous, or non-existent. Nothing was ever fun in the Escape. It would get you from Point-A to Point-B comfortably and reliably, but it had no soul. I missed the noise, the harshness, the speed, that has been in so many of the previous cars that I owned. By the end of winter, I knew I made a mistake. This type of car was not the car for me.

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Unfortunately, house-hunting time was upon me and I had to be reminded numerous times by my wife and my loan officer that I was not allowed to buy another car until I closed on a house. The good thing is that the weather was getting nicer and that meant I was daily-driving my RX-8 again (Yes, it can carry two kids around). I still remember the first time I got to drive it after months in storage.

I felt like a fire in me erupted back to life. That moment, I realized and appreciated how much driving meant to me and how important it was for me to love what I’m driving. I realized the level of enjoyment that I got even doing mundane, everyday things like driving to work, or running errands had an effect on my overall attitude depending on what I was driving. I love cars, but more importantly, I love driving cars that provide me with that satisfying, engaging experience every time I get in it.

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So, a few more months had passed and we finally ended up closing on our new house. All this time I was driving my RX-8 with the Escape sat in the driveway unless I needed it to move stuff. In these trips, I tried to will myself into enjoying the car, but it just wasn’t happening. There was no emotional connection there whatsoever.

Less than a month after moving into our new house, I was out at the dealerships car-hunting. This time, I knew there would be no compromises. I was going to find something that I would love driving. I would find something that would make a trip to the grocery store memorable. I was going to find a car that I could drive year-round that I enjoy the same way that I enjoy my RX-8.

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So, I ended up with a 2016 Subaru STi.

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So, let this be a lesson. Some time, the Grown-up, responsible thing to do, isn’t the right thing to do. Especially when it comes to the things in your life that you do to make you feel like a kid again. In some aspects of life, compromises are ok, but don’t compromise on those few things that bring you true enjoyment.

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