A blue 2021 Ford Escape is shown from the front parked in a modern gallery.

A CUV Showdown: 2021 Ford Escape vs 2021 Chevy Equinox

If you are looking for a CUV and comparing the 2021 Ford Escape vs 2021 Chevy Equinox, then chances are you are looking to accommodate family life while also maintaining utility but not overdoing it. I think that sometimes we are quick to write off CUVs because they seem to us to be “middle of the road” cars; we compare the big trucks and the compact cruisers, but we tend to leave CUVs on their own because they just live somewhere in-between those two. Well, that’s true; the point of a CUV is, after all, to provide the hybrid between a compact car and an SUV, so clearly, the CUV is accomplishing its goal.

That does not mean, however, that all CUVs are two halves making some kind of mismatched whole. CUVs are, in many ways, the most efficient vehicles on the market right now, and they tend to come at more affordable prices than larger SUVs, making them more accessible to those who are starting families. We tend to pay attention to brands when it comes to trucks and sports cars, but oftentimes we don’t think too much about the brand of a CUV because it’s more about the vehicle serving its purpose than it is about performance.

This is certainly not a bad thing – after all, the car is meant to serve you and your family, not make you serve it. But one CUV is not like another, and there is a great amount of variety among CUVs. Two of the leading brands in the automotive world are Ford and Chevrolet, and to nobody’s surprise, they both produce leading CUVs: the Ford Escape and the Chevy Equinox. So, to make sure that CUVs get their fair chance in the ring, let’s put these two up next to each other. We will look at three criteria today: performance, efficiency, and style. Here we go: the 2021 Ford Escape vs 2021 Chevy Equinox.


Let’s begin with the Ford Escape. Though the Escape offers two different engines, the one we will focus on is the 2.0-liter EcoBoost Turbo I-4 engine. This allows the Ford Escape to perform at 250 horsepower with 280 pound-feet of torque. For how compact the vehicle is, these numbers are quite impressive. Not to mention the fact that the Escape has a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. This is combined with 8-speed automatic transmission, making the Ford Escape easily adaptable.

On to the next: let’s see what the Chevy Equinox can do. The Equinox engine (only one option) is a 1.5-liter Turbo I-4. This provides the Equinox with the capacity for 170 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque, combined with 6-speed automatic transmission. With a towing capacity of 1,500 pounds, it has a 2,000-pound disadvantage compared with the Ford Escape.

Needless to say, all subjectivity aside, the Ford Escape just has better numbers than the Equinox does. With an 80-horsepower advantage, a 77 pound-feet torque advantage, and a 2,000-pound towing advantage, there is a clear winner for performance. I think, though, that the most compelling performance advantage of the Escape is the 2,000-pound towing advantage. Think about the difference that makes.

Let’s say you’re hitting the lake for a family jet ski outing. On average, a jet ski weighs around 750 pounds. With the Chevy Equinox, you can probably only haul one jet ski once you factor in the weight of the trailer. Not bad, and maybe that’s all you need. With the Ford Escape, though, you can easily haul two or three jet skis. That’s quite a difference! Maybe jet skis are not your preferred unit of measurement, but regardless of what you’re looking to haul, you get the point: 2,000 pounds is a big difference when it comes to towing, especially on a CUV. If you’re hauling the family trailer for a camping outing, you’re going to want that extra towing capacity. Add on to that difference 80 more horsepower, and I think you’ll probably find that you’re driving better in the Escape.

But, performance is not the only criteria to consider when buying a car; you have to think about efficiency. If you’re going to invest in a vehicle, you want something that is going to both last and not eat up money, so efficiency is equally as important. The Escape may win the performance round, but this competition ain’t over yet. Let’s see who wins the efficiency round.

A black 2021 Chevy Equinox is shown from the front driving in a parking garage.


Now, when examining the efficiency of a vehicle, there really are two types of efficiency to consider: the classic fuel efficiency and so on, but also the efficiency of lifestyle. In other words, the question is not just “how does this vehicle perform in an efficient manner?” but also “how does this vehicle make life easier for my family and me?” Both are great questions. Thanks for asking.

We’ll start with basic vehicle efficiency. Let’s let the Equinox go first this time. The Equinox has an EPA-estimated fuel efficiency of 26 miles per gallon in the city and 31 miles per gallon on the highway. These numbers are certainly not bad and hold their own among many other vehicles. But, let’s see what the Ford Escape can do in the efficiency department. Well, once again, the Escape will take the lead with an EPA-estimated fuel efficiency of 28 miles per gallon in the city and 34 miles per gallon on the highway. Now, to be fair, the difference here is not a gaping hole; but, that adds up over time, and if you are frequently driving long distances, that adds up even quicker. So, it is certainly not nothing.

When it comes to lifestyle efficiency, especially if you have kids, one of the biggest factors is space: how do you store all of your stuff? Well, both vehicles will serve you well in this department. As you may have expected, both vehicles offer 60/40-split folding rear seats, a common design feature for CUVs. Both vehicles offer very generous and impressive cargo space, with the Equinox offering 63.9 cubic feet. While this certainly is a good number for a CUV, the Escape once again takes the lead by offering 65.4 cubic feet. Those are cubic feet, mind you, so it makes more of a difference than it may seem. Now, is this difference as significant as the gaps in performance numbers? Certainly not. But, it does serve to give the Escape a significant lead in the overall competition so far. The Equinox is gonna have to catch up really fast; otherwise, this competition may be over. Let’s move on to our final round: style.


Well, this certainly is the most subjective round as it has less to do with numbers and more to do with preferences. That being said, the great philosopher Thomas Aquinas once renounced the notion that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so it may be more objective than we often think. Let’s take a look.

The Ford Escape offers a nice interior as certain trims offer ActiveX seating, making for seating that is both stylish and comfortable. One of the most interesting and unique style features of the Escape is its rotary gear shift dial. Rather than having a large stick, it is a small circular knob, giving the interior a more open feel, making for a more sociable atmosphere between the driver and front passenger seat.

If there is one area in which the Equinox wins, it may be interior style. Its available interior color contrasts and schemes make it feel elegant, sleek, and comfortable. Perhaps the two most notable design elements of the Equinox are the options of the Midnight Edition and the Sport Edition. The Midnight Edition has a dark complexion both inside and out, making it feel mysterious and even more elegant, perfect for a night in the city. The Sport Edition takes the Equinox and makes it sportier, heightening and sharpening the design features to make it a classier vehicle.

A blue 2021 Ford Escape is shown from the rear parked in a modern driveway after winning a 2021 Ford Escape vs 2021 Chevy Equinox comparison.

And the Winner is…

After examining these three criteria, the clear winner is the Ford Escape. While the Equinox does have design features that make it an extremely nice ride inside, the Escape has outstanding style, and its performance advantages are just too good to overlook. While the Escape’s MSRP is slightly higher, the price difference is negligible for the clear performance advantages. Are they both great vehicles? Of course. But why drive anything less than the best?