This has given us plenty to think about. I'll summarize where we are at today as far as the options discussed on this thread, and will update where we end up in a few weeks when we finalize our order. I feel that we have already made the most important decision by getting an Escape - the rest is gravy.
By the end of this season, we will have well over 50 days of experience and a much better picture of what we truly need and can go without. Although it would be nice to have everything, it is also good to leave some things on the table. Besides, if we had it all, I wouldn't have any fun dreaming up what to get next!
o Extra insulation / double-pane windows / spray foam insulation - yes
o Dual 6V batteries - yes
o LED interior / exterior lights - yes
o External storage box - yes
Although $700 is a lot for a box. Has anyone added a conventional truck cargo box up front?
Our bike rack upgrade will be used for bikes, so we cannot connect a box to the hitch in back.
o Generator - no
Besides the cost, I would prefer to camp quietly. (The kids make enough noise.)
o Solar panel - no
But may pre-wire for future upgrade. Will also look into portable options.
In a pinch, hooking up my 4Runner to top things off seems a reasonable - and significantly cheaper - fallback option.
o Dual water heater - no
Upgrading would not alter where we go or how we camp. But not upgrading may encourage shorter showers!
o Inverter - maybe
Thanks for the info Jon! I need to think about the tools and electronics more. Hopefully I can source converters for everything.
o Additional brake/running lights - probably not
I like the safety factor, but I hope to do little traveling after dark when these would be most useful.
Up next - customizations!