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Compact SUV Comparison: 2020 Ford Escape vs 2020 Kia Sportage

A red 2020 Ford Escape is parked in a driveway on a sunny day.

 

Two of the most popular makes and models in the growing Compact SUV class are the Ford Escape and the Kia Sportage. Both manufacturers recently debuted the 2020 versions of each car, with the respective base models being the 2020 Ford Escape S and the 2020 Kia Sportage LX. In the following, I will compare certain key features to help you decide in the matchup of 2020 Ford Escape vs 2020 Kia Sportage.

Common Features

Both the 2020 Ford Escape S and the 2020 Kia Sportage LX come with front-wheel drive standard. Buyers can pay extra for all-wheel drive in both cars. In addition, all models of the 2020 Ford Escape and 2020 Kia Sportage provide seating for up to 5 passengers, with a two in the front, three in the back, configuration. The rear seats in both cars fold down to provide additional storage space for cargo. Both vehicles also feature standard AM/FM stereo with 4G LTE connectivity, and USB charging ports. Since these are common features, there is no advantage for either vehicle when comparing the two.

This Match: Even

Fuel Economy

One of the main reasons why people love Compact SUVs is that you can get a great deal of space to carry your passengers and cargo without having to pay at the pump in low mileage ratings. Both the 2020 Ford Escape S and the 2020 Kia Sportage LX provide exceptional fuel economy to their drivers. However, in this category, it appears that Ford has the edge.

The EPA estimated the 2020 Kia Sportage LX to provide 23 miles per gallon in the city, 30 miles per gallon on the highway, and an overall 26 miles per gallon combined. With respect to the 2020 Ford Escape S, the EPA recently reported its estimates, and they were truly impressive: 27 miles per gallon city, 33 miles per gallon on the highway, and 30 miles per gallon combined. This may have something to do with the different engines and the estimated curb weight of each vehicle.

The 2020 Ford Escape S features a 1.5L EcoBoost gas engine, while the 2020 Kia Sportage LX has a larger 2.4L gas engine. In addition, the estimated curb weight of the 2020 Ford Escape S is 3,298 pounds, compared to the 2020 Kia Sportage LX, which weighs in at a heavier estimated 3,305 to 3,596 pounds. The larger engine and heavier curb weight might be the cause of the 2020 Kia Sportage LX providing less estimated gas mileage than the 2020 Ford Escape. In addition, the Escape holds slightly more gas than the Sportage, 16.9 gallons to 16.4 gallons, meaning that the Escape should have a greater range.

A blue 2020 Ford Escape, which wins when comparing the 2020 Ford Escape vs 2020 Kia Sportage, is towing a boat on a windy treelined road.

Advantage: 2020 Ford Escape

Engine and Drivability

As stated earlier, the 2020 Kia Sportage LX has a larger engine than the 2020 Ford Escape. The 2.5L engine on the 2020 Kia Sportage LX produces 181 horsepower compared to the 177 horsepower from the Escape’s 1.5L engine. In addition, the Sportage has a 105.1-inch wheelbase, shorter than the Escape’s 106.7 inches. This should give the 2020 Kia Sportage LX an advantage in drivability, since the larger engine should provide greater pickup, while the shorter wheelbase should make the Sportage slightly more maneuverable than the Escape.

The one advantage for the 2020 Ford Escape is that 8-speed automatic transmission is standard. This should give the driver more control over the car than the standard 6-speed automatic transmission on the Kia, which should make up for some of the difference in drivability.

Slight advantage: 2020 Kia Sportage

Interior Space

One of the areas that those of us who drive Compact SUVs hate to compromise on is space. The main reason for choosing a Compact SUV over a compact sedan or coupe is the roominess that this vehicle class provides for passengers and cargo. Both models reviewed here have plenty of space for you, your passengers, and your stuff, but one is clearly roomier than the other.

The 2020 Kia Sportage LX offers front seat passengers 39.3 inches of headroom, 41.5 inches of legroom, 54.3 inches of hip room, and 57.1 inches of shoulder room, while rear seat passengers have 39.1 inches of headroom, 38.2 inches of legroom, 51.2 inches of hip room, and 55.1 inches of shoulder room.

The 2020 Ford Escape S is slightly roomier, offering 40 inches of headroom to front seat passengers, 42.4 inches of legroom, 55.2 inches of hip room, and 57.6 inches of shoulder room, while its rear seat passengers enjoy 39.3 inches of headroom, 40.7 inches of legroom, 53.3 inches of hip room, and 56 inches of shoulder room. Comparing the two, rear seat passengers in the Ford have almost as much room as front seat passengers in the Kia.

The same holds true for cargo space. The 2020 Ford Escape uses its extra inch-and-a-half of wheelbase to provide storage for 37.5 cubic feet of cargo with the second row up, and 65.4 cubic feet when it is folded down. This is substantially greater than the 2020 Kia Sportage, which only offers 30.7 cubic feet of cargo space with the second row up, and 60.1 cubic feet when the second row of seats is down.

Advantage: 2020 Ford Escape

A rear to front interior look of the 2020 Ford Escape with the rear seats down is shown.

Safety Features

Safety features are important to most drivers, and it appears that Ford offers more standard ones than Kia. The 2020 Kia Sportage LX comes with standard forward collision-avoidance assistance with pedestrian detection, where the car senses an imminent collision and automatically engages the brakes.

In addition, the Kia features an anti-lock braking system with 4-wheel disc brakes, electronic stability control, traction control, downhill brake control, high line tire-pressure monitoring system, hill start assist control (to prevent vehicle rollback), and front, side and curtain airbags.

The 2020 Ford Escape also has an anti-lock braking system with 4-wheel disc brakes, AdvanceTrac with roll stability control (traction control and prevention of vehicle rollback), tire-pressure monitoring system, and front, side, and canopy airbags. However, the Ford offers more standard safety features than the Kia as part of the Ford Co-Pilot360 system. This provides a rear view camera and automatic high-beam headlamps. In addition, you receive a number of other safety features as part of the system.

Pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking applies the brakes automatically if the car senses an imminent collision. The blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert will warn you if a car is in your blind spot while you are signaling to change lanes. The lane-keeping system alerts you if you are drifting out of your lane. This is especially useful if you are on a long trip, and may get distracted while driving. While Kia offers many of these same features as optional upgrades, purchasers of any model 2020 Ford Escape will receive the Ford Co-Pilot360 system as a standard feature.

Overall Value

The 2020 Kia Sportage LX has a base MSRP of $23,990. This is a full $895 less than the MSRP of $24,885 for the 2020 Ford Escape S. However, if you would like to include the same safety features in your Kia Sportage that come standard in your Ford Escape, these upgrades will easily drive your price over the base MSRP for the 2020 Ford Escape S. As a result, the 2020 Ford Escape S may well be a better value than the 2020 Kia Sportage LX when you compare comparable models with the same features.

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