Nine great cars for back to school

7. Ford Escape

Mike Segar/MS/HB/Reuters/File
Ford test driver Steven Yuhas leans out of the driver's seat of a new 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid sport utility vehicle as he makes a stop in New York's Times Square in this 2004 file photo. The Hybrid Escape has a large capacity for luggage and reaches 30 miles per gallon.

Vintage: Mid-2000s

Price Range: $4,000 to $7,000

For those who want the spaciousness of an SUV but don’t need rough-and-tumble off-road capabilities, consider the smallest four-wheel-drive in Ford’s lineup.

The Escape swallows heaps of luggage while still managing over 20 miles per gallon in mixed driving. If you pay a few extra grand, you could nab a hybrid model, which can pull off up to 30 m.p.g. That might be worth it if you’re in an urban center, where gas bills add up quick.

Parents will like: Not having to lend kids their own car for transporting the team/band/tri-fold cardboard posters.

Students will like: Room for sports gear, guitars, and IKEA furniture without excessive fuel requirements.

Downsides: Interior build-quality leaves something to be desired. Poky little engine harnessed by a 4WD transmission makes aggressive highway merges impossible.

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