A red 2021 Ford Escape is parked in a modern garden.

The 2021 Escape vs 2021 RAV4: Which Offers More Bang for Your Buck?

Crossovers are becoming more and more desirable because they handle like a car, but they provide the space of an SUV. But there are a lot of crossover brands out there, with fan bases of each brand. So, the question remains: which crossover model is truly the best? Today, we’re focusing on the 2021 Escape vs 2021 RAV4. Yes, that’s right, it’s Ford versus Toyota. All we’re going to say for now is that by the end of this article, you’ll be heading to your local Ford Escape dealership without any doubts in your mind.

Performance Specs

When it comes to performance, the Ford Escape starts out strong with two different turbocharged engine options. These include 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter EcoBoost options, giving the Ford significantly better performance than the solitary engine in the RAV4 offers. However, both SUVs pair their engines with an eight-speed automatic transmission and offer the choice between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. The maximum towing capacity for both vehicles also tops out at 3,500 pounds, although the RAV4 only offers that maximum on a handful of trims.

The 2021 Escape’s power shines through in its specs. The Escape offers more horsepower and more torque than the RAV4, and a big difference between the two lies in the Escape’s turbocharged engine options. Sure, the base engine is only a 3-cylinder, but that turbocharger makes all the difference and enables it to deliver 181 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque. That stacks up nicely against the RAV4 with its 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque.

However, if you want real performance, the Toyota SUV offers nothing that can compete with Ford’s 2.0L EcoBoost engine. With the optional engine, the 2021 Escape boasts 250 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, giving you an exhilarating ride. The more powerful engine also comes standard with all-wheel drive for more sure-footed performance. Overall, the Escape beats the RAV4’s general performance specs and does so at a lower price to boot.

A red 2021 RAV4 Prime is driving past a lake after leaving a Ford Escape dealership.

Convenience Features

Most modern crossovers and SUVs now come with something called “drive modes.” These selectable modes are designed to make your vehicle perform better under certain driving conditions. Basically, when you select a specific drive mode, the vehicle’s performance adjusts to match its surroundings. Good examples of the need for this include snowstorms, heavy rains, and dirt or mud roads. The good news is that both the 2021 Escape and the 2021 RAV4 offer selectable drive modes. The bad news is that the RAV4 only comes standard with Sport, Eco, and Normal modes. While that doesn’t sound bad at first, it doesn’t compare to the Escape, which offers all these modes with the additional Slippery mode and Snow/Sand mode. The 2021 Escape’s Slippery mode comes in handy during icy or rainy weather, and it’s also good for roads that contain loose gravel or oil. Sand mode does exactly what you think it does – it tackles sand and loose dirt.

Both vehicles do offer Normal and Sport modes. Normal mode is made up of your typical driving configurations, whereas Sport mode will spice things up a bit. If you’re less concerned with fuel economy than with having some pep in your step, Sport mode is fun to use. The best part about both the Escape and the RAV4 offering Sport mode is that you get to experience the speedy life on your own terms. Sports cars aren’t fuel-efficient for a reason, so when you purchase a sports car, you’re tied to that low fuel economy. Sport mode, on the other hand, lets you hop into that life temporarily while giving you the ability to save fuel overall.

Further, both models include some handy features like the hands-free power liftgate, but the Escape comes with a shift dial rather than a traditional shift knob, and it also has standard FordPass Connect. The FordPass Connect feature is unique, and it’s part of what makes the Escape stand out against its RAV4 competition. This feature allows drivers to start their Escape from their mobile device, it includes live traffic information, and it even offers a Wi-Fi hotspot.

FordPass Connect also offers special services that include scheduled vehicle starts and the ability to locate your Escape and lock or unlock the doors remotely. While most services like this require a subscription, FordPass Connect comes standard on your new 2021 Escape model, and you can access it free as long as you own the vehicle. The RAV4, on the other hand, does not have a free feature like this. Sure, you can access the Toyota Connected Services, but you have to pay for it once the short trial is over.

The 2021 Escape definitely beats the 2021 RAV4 in the convenience department. This is especially important since the 2021 Escape is actually more affordable than the Toyota RAV4. Ford makes sure you’re getting the best out of your purchase, whereas Toyota’s model requires some extra cash despite not bringing as much to the table.

Safety Assist Features

This is one part that both vehicles pretty much tie on. The 2021 Ford Escape offers Ford Co-Pilot360, whereas the Toyota RAV4 comes with Toyota Safety Assist. Both models include features such as blind spot monitoring that notifies drivers when a vehicle is in their blind spot and lane keeping systems that notify drivers when they begin to drift out of the correct lane, redirecting them gently into their original lane. Both models offer these features and many more driver-assist options, both standard and optional.

In addition to this, both models have an NHTSA 5-star Overall Safety Rating. That said, the RAV4 has a few 4 out of 5 scores that the Ford Escape got full marks in. These include the frontal barrier crash test ratings. While both vehicles are safe, Ford does pull off a slightly better crash-test score. Otherwise, both models are well equipped with safety features that act as an extra pair of eyes for the road.

A blue 2021 Ford Escape Titanium is parked in a garden after leaving a Ford Escape dealership.

What Makes The 2021 Escape Stand Out?

One handy feature that makes the 2021 Escape stand out is its Active Park Assist 2.0 feature. This technology can automatically park for you, and not just in regular parking lots, either. The 2021 Escape can parallel and reverse park for you on its own. This doesn’t mean to start texting while your Escape does all the work. However, it does mean that as long as you pay attention and stay alert, your 2021 Escape will park better than you’ve parked since your driver’s test. The 2021 RAV4 offers front and rear park assist, which gives drivers audible warnings when they’re too close to an object, but the RAV4 does not offer automatic parking like the 2021 Escape.

Another huge park to the 2021 Escape is its roadside assistance plan. The Toyota RAV4 comes with roadside assistance for two years, but the Escape has complimentary roadside assistance for up to five years. Last but not least, the 2021 Ford Escape starts at $24,995 against a starting price of $26,150 for the 2021 RAV4. In short, the Escape is more affordable yet far more capable than its competitor, the RAV4.