The SUV is dominating the automotive field, and for good reason. It combines everything we love into one vehicle and is usually quite customizable. From trim options to add on packages and more, both SUVs can become anything you want them to be. But what if all you want is affordability and essentials? The base trim could be exactly what you need, and nothing more, at the most affordable price. How do the base trims of the 2023 Chevy Equinox vs the 2023 Ford Escape compare?
2023 Ford Escape Base
Starting at $28,000, the Escape base trim is equipped with a four-cylinder 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine, generating 175 horsepower and 203 lb-ft of torque. Automatic start/stop technology is a fuel efficiency tool that seamlessly turns the engine on and off to conserve fuel. The base model is available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Expect 26 MPG in the city or 31 highway for front-wheel drive models, and 24 city / 30 highway with all-wheel drive.
The Escape seats five, with a 60/40 folding back seat to increase cargo space when needed. With the second row folded flat, you get a comfortable 65.4 cubic feet of cargo room in the back. An 8-inch touchscreen includes Ford’s SYNC 4 system, which offers music, Bluetooth connectivity, and integrated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Built-in navigation, voice recognition, and SiriusXM satellite radio are also available for a subscription fee.
Ford Co-Pilot 360 is also standard, offering a line of safety features including automatic emergency braking, a lane-keeping system, a blind spot information system, and rear cross-traffic braking, new for 2023. The Escape comes with a rear-view camera that works with other safety functions to alert you to potential collisions. Electronic traction control helps keep your Escape from losing control in adverse conditions.
2023 Chevy Equinox
The Chevy Equinox LS, which is the base trim, starts at $26,600, slightly less than the Ford. It features a 1.5–liter turbo engine, which makes 180 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque. Despite the different names, Ford’s EcoBoost engine is a turbo engine as well, just with a fancy name. Turbo engines are a small, yet powerful, allowing for greater performance to be achieved from a smaller displacement. Turbo engines are typically more efficient than traditional engines. Both vehicles are also equipped with smart stop/start technology, adding to its efficiency. The Equinox will get 27 MPG in the city and 34 highway with front-wheel drive, and 26 city / 32 highway with all-wheel drive, slightly better than the Ford. Plus, with the addition of StabiliTrak, Chevy’s traction control system, you have greater control in varying weather and terrain.
Seating for five and also a folding 60/40 back seat gives the Equinox similar cargo capacity as the Escape, but slightly less at 63.9 cubic feet. The 7-inch infotainment screen in the LS is a little smaller than the Escape, and offers Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and optional SiriusXM satellite radio. The Equinox offers voice recognition standard on the base trim, which is not the same for the Escape.
Wi-Fi hotspot capability is available with the Equinox, but unfortunately not with the Ford Escape. It doesn’t appear that it is available with even upper trims for the Ford SUV, which is another plus for the Chevy. The Escape offers keyless entry but not ignition, while both are standard on the Equinox, making it easy to start your car without the hassle of hunting down your key.
The Equinox edges out the base Escape with certain extras that are standard on the Equinox, but require a package upgrade or trim upgrade on the Escape. For instance, while the Escape has access to navigation, the subscription is not standard. However, on the Equinox, navigation is standard. The LS even has heated mirrors, which are great for winter driving.
The Chevy is equipped with similar safety features as the Ford, with pedestrian detection, automatic braking and other features that are becoming standard for most new vehicles. However, Chevy also comes with a feature called Teen Driver. This is not available on the Ford but is standard on the Chevy and offers parental controls for young drivers. This adds extra peace of mind for everyone.
The Chevy Is FORDging Ahead
This was definitely a close call. Both models seem pretty similar. Their design is boxy yet bubbly, with strategically placed sculpting. They have that sporty, yet comfortable look about them. The interiors are even similar.
Looking fairly similar, both the Equinox and the Escape feature a snazzy style. The Escape has a few more exterior color options than the Equinox, but the Equinox has special edition packages that let you customize more if you want to spend the extra dough. The Equinox comes standard with 17” aluminum wheels, and the Escape with 17” steel. It’s not a huge difference, but aluminum tends to be more attractive, and holds up to rough roads better than steel.
The high-end cloth bucket seats, touchscreen infotainment panels, and a folding back seat are practically carbon copies. Yet there are enough subtle differences to set them apart. Yes, the Escape has a tiny bit of extra cargo space, but it’s not much, and its touch screen is an inch larger. The Escape’s advantages stop there, however. If we look at the Equinox, it has enough extras to make this entry-level SUV just right.
The Equinox has heated mirrors, voice recognition, and even a the Teen Driver feature designed just to bug your kids. Okay, it isn’t meant to bug them, and keeping them safe is one of the best features of the vehicle, but it will probably drive them nuts. But it’s ok, because the Equinox offers optional Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi makes everything better when it comes to kids. Unfortunately, the Escape can’t say the same.
Of course, if you decide the base trim isn’t for you, both models have plenty of options to choose from. The Escape has a few more trim levels than the Equinox, but there don’t seem to be any serious additions between the first few trims. Plus, the Equinox offers two special edition packages for the base trim that allow you to customize it with both cosmetic upgrades and mechanical features.
The base trims offered today are more luxurious than many of the top tiers offered even 10 years ago. That’s why for me, the Equinox LS seems to have everything you could need and then some. As much as I love Ford and think that the Escape is a great little SUV, ultimately the Equinox comes out ahead. With great features, a nice design, and even a slightly lower price, the Equinox shows that the base trim of a line-up can offer more than enough for those who don’t need it all.