The midsize SUV market has been one of the faster growing automotive sectors lately as emerging companies have been manufacturing some great vehicles. The 2012 Ford Escape is one of the many fine vehicles in this segment, but because a redesigned model is just around the bend, this could be the end of the line for this proven design.

Although crossovers have taken a lot of gusto away from the midsize SUV, they are still geared toward a specific demographic: the soccer mom taking the kids to practice. In hopes of swaying them away from the rounded look of a minivan, the 2012 Escape has a classic and rugged look that is usually found on off-road vehicles. With its look-tough, thick plastic cladding and the upright seating position, the Escape is more than capable of conquering the mall parking lot as well as a basic off-road trail.

Technology is a key feature inside the 2012 Escape, with the use of the available SYNC audio system and voice-activation navigation. Although these are pricey options, check out the beefed up audio system with tons of music choices -- thanks to a built-in hard drive and Sirius/XM Satellite Radio capability. However, if you decide to get the navigation system, another option available is a high-quality backup camera.

Under the hood, the Ford Escape has three different power plant and transmission options which includes the base kind-of-wimpy 171-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, a powerful 3.0-liter V6 engine with 240 hp and a high quality hybrid option which incorporates a 4-cylinder gas engine attached to an electric motor that makes a combined 171 hp. All three engines also have different standard transmissions including a 5-speed manual transmission for the 2.5-liter base engine, a 6-speed automatic that is attached to the V6, and a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) which is the only transmission available with the hybrid model.

Competition is stiff in the midsize SUV market, though. For example, the Honda CR-V offers a very car-like ride compared to the Escape while the Chevy Equinox offers the same kind of technology plus more interior room and better mileage, depending on which engine your Escape has. But if you would like something different than the other soccer moms while still having a rugged look, the 2012 Escape could be the right vehicle for you.

To see more features and learn about the 2012 Ford Escape, head over to YouTube and take a look at the new car review video from Auto Trader.

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Brian Moody heads up the AutoTrader.com editorial team. An automotive writer and presenter for more than 12 years, he's contributed to such media outlets as CNBC, Edmunds.com, Fox Business, Speed TV and The Today Show.

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