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2001 ICOTY Awards - SUV
Most Resourceful:  Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute

ROAD & TRAVEL's Most Resourceful -- Ford Escape/Mazda TributePeople often tell us that they want an SUV that has space and looks, yet is not big or unwieldy. They want power, but don’t want to shell out a ton of cash for gas. Oh, and it has to be affordable, they say. Well, until now, we’d just shrug and say we haven’t much of an answer for all these conflicting purposes. That all changed last summer, Ford and Mazda jointly hit the nail on the head.

The Escape and the Tribute are virtual twins under the skin, although the Mazda is tuned with a slight bias toward sporty handling next to the Ford. All else mechanical they share, and both are admirably car-like in their road manners. Power can be provided by your choice of a frisky four-cylinder engine with a five-speed manual transmission, or a smooth (200 horsepower!) V-6 mated to a five-speed automatic.

The interiors have more space than you’d expect in this price range, and can be outfitted with leather seats, a power moonroof and an in-dash CD changer. Other cool things include the cool pull-down bike rack that makes loading your bikes a cinch. The Escape and the Tribute are so good, in fact, that they risk cannibalizing sales from Ford’s popular Explorer (although that could change when the all-new Explorer comes off the line this Spring). In the meantime, just consider these fraternal twins the best of all worlds. We do.

Most Respected
Luxury Car of the Year
Mercedes-Benz CL500

Most Likely to Change the World
ECO- Friendly Car of the Year
Nissan Sentra CA

Most Likely to Survive Anything
SUV of the Year
Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute