Re: Escape towing
Crash Course (it's not in any kind of order...):
Every vehicle has a specified list of items that are included in a certain 'towing package'.
Light duty vehicles such as the Escape, will be fine for towing small boats and utility trailers. These types of trailers give minimal drag, say when compared to a 20 foot travel trailer with perhaps 40sq ft of frontal area (not the type that crank down).
Trailer sway control for the most part, is an added form of traction control so the vehicle stays where it's pointed. It won't help you if you're speeding. Some sway control systems work in correlation with a trailer brake controller as well. These systems can help brake a wheel slightly, or increase/decrease engine output. Personally, if you're trailer is balanced correctly there's no need for any of this.
The 3.0L V6 is a strong engine but even with a 4 speed transmission you'll find it wanting when climbing hills. The newer 6 speed is a welcome addition however. The common mistake is that people buy an SUV to tow specifically (not saying you are, just in general here!), and then complain that it's not getting 23mpg on the highway. A 3500lb SUV towing itself with a hard working V6 will eat the fuel. Take a large SUV that can tow three times that amount, and it'll get similar mileage towing 3500lb in a utility trailer just as if it were not towing at all. There won't be much difference in mileage as the engine doesn't have to work as hard. The downside is that on long trips without towing, you'll still get that amazing 15mpg with a full size SUV. Cost aside, this is why they were so popular before the cost of petrol went up.
By "light cable" I assume you're talking about a 4pin wiring connector. You don't have to upgrade the signal/light flasher for this. For standard rear lights and perhaps one side marker on either side, the flasher will perform fine. If you wanted to tow a trailer full of regular bulbs and have five or more per side that indicate direction change, then yes, an upgrade might be worth your while. New trailer LED lighting greatly reduces strain on the tow vehicle's electrical system and won't be affected at all no matter how many lights the trailer has.
As for the hitch, the factory Class II is standard. There was no class III option. Class II offers a maximum of 3500lb towing capacity. Class III hitch can be had at similar cost to a class II. Class III is rated for 5000lbs.
The consensus is that 10% of the total max hitch weight can be set on the tongue. A class II can handle 350lbs on the hitch, a class III - 500lbs. If you were carrying multiple bikes, or a tongue heavy trailer, it's a worth while upgrade. For most people even with a light utility trailer will never get close to 350lbs on the hitch with a compact SUV.
With the Escape is rated for 350lbs on the hitch. With that said, when you travel, you have to deduct the tongue weight from the vehicle's payload capacity. Total vehicle payload say 900lbs, minus loaded trailer (350), two passengers (350), leaves 200lbs left for kids and luggage to be in compliance with the DOT.
Now, 500lbs on an Escape will nearly put the bumper on the ground depending on what else is in the vehicle. If you need to pull that kind of weight on a regular basis or for long periods, I advise against it. Proper trailer weight distribution is key to towing safely - NOT electrical nannies.
'11 Ram Quad Cab 4x4 SXT 5.7L HEMI (stock); 48,500m
'06 Pontiac G6 GT 3.5L 220hp; 64,000m
'12 Chrysler 200 Limited 3.6L 283hp; 28,000m
'99 Taurus 3.0L 2V Vulcan 145hp; 154,300m - Traded
Amsoil in all vehicles!