I have a 2004 Escape with a little over 32,000 miles on it (I don’t drive much anymore).
It has been used a LOT over the years to move a lot of things. You can really pack stuff in there. People borrow it all the time, and they have nothing but good things to say about it.
It’s not fancy or plush, but it drives great. I went from an Escort to this and I had absolutely no problems. It’s never felt like a big SUV to me.
One thing about noise - in mine, at least, there is a good bit of noise. Either the back window or the hinges in the seats creak when I drive (something in the back - I haven’t figured it out). Something in the steering column creaks. My cousin, a mechanic, tells me that the front end is “louder” than it should be. I am told that most of this stuff could be taken care of with a little grease, but since it doesn’t bother me that much I just let it go.
A few months ago I had my ABS get broken. There’s a little ring on the axle that controls the ABS and that ring cracked. It was a $700 fix at the dealer, or an $80 fix in my cousin’s garage. I am told this is how all Ford axle/ABS systems work (have to replace the whole axle if that ring gets broken) - and I would assume Mazda works the same way. Chevies do not.
I am also not happy with the factory tires. They squeal when I am making a turn on an incline. But, the tires have also lasted this long, still with good tread, so I keep them. I will be happy when I replace them, though.
FWIW, according to my mechanic/cousin, I’ve still got a few months left on my brakes.
With all of these “problems” (which aren’t really huge problems), I still love my Escape. I’m just trying to be honest with the OP, because they specifically asked about noise.
I’ll also be honest and say that my dad worked at Ford when I bought the car (he’s a retiree now). So, as a young single woman with a large dog, my choices in models were pretty limited. I could have the old person Taurus, the tiny Focus or the spacious Escape.
I am 100% happy with the car, though. Also note that there’s a difference between model years.