If you’re shopping for a great compact SUV from a name that drivers trust, there are a handful of notable options on the market. Compact SUVs are excellent vehicles for those who want a spacious, comfortable car with impressive performance and cargo space but don’t want to deal with managing the massive curb weight of a full-size SUV. However, while many compact SUVs might look similar at first glance, it’s those details and subtle things that make all the difference. Some details are not so small, either, like the driver-assist features that come standard or the mileage. Having a vehicle lacking in these departments can range from having costly to devastating consequences.
There is a lot to explore when comparing compact SUVs. Some of the top contenders are the Ford Escape, the Honda CR-V, the Toyota RAV4, and the Chevy Equinox. Each of these brands has loyal followers and appeals to different budgets. However, even if you’ve always been a Toyota person or you’ve always been a Chevy person, it could be time to break your pattern and check out a Ford Escape for sale. Ford has always been a leader in the SUV space, and that is clear by the design choices they’ve made in the Escape throughout the vehicle. Some of the differences between the Escape and its competitors are subtle but, over time, will feel major. Here’s a look at how the Escape holds up compared to some of the other most popular compact SUVs.
The Quick Basics
Here’s a quick glance at the important basics of each of these cars.
- MSRP Range – For each of these, for the 2023 year, you’re looking at MSRPs in the high 20K/low 30K range up to the high 30K range. The Ford Escape has a base model that is slightly more affordable than most of its competitors at $27,500.
- Trims – The Ford Escape enjoys six trims, the CR-V and Equinox have four, and the RAV4 has a total of five trims. There’s decent variety for every type of driver throughout these trims.
- Hybrid Options – The CR-V, RAV4, and Escape are available in hybrid options. The Equinox, however, is only available as a full-gas model. If you want a more fuel-efficient vehicle, the Equinox will be easy to cross off your list.
- All-Wheel Drive – Each of these cars has all-wheel drive––either standard or available––making them ready to travel a variety of roads and surfaces.
Drivers have come to expect advanced infotainment and technology today. Many vehicles now have intuitive and informative screens that help drivers streamline everything from navigation to weather reports to making calls. The Ford Escape shines in this department with a massive available 13.2-inch touchscreen that is significantly larger than its competitors (the others reach up to eight, nine, or 10.5 inches). This means larger graphics on turn-by-turn directions and an easier-to-view interface where you can interact with smartphone apps and more.
Each of these contenders has smartphone and Wi-Fi hotspot compatibility, letting you connect multiple devices to the Internet in your car. However, here is where the Ford Escape shines again: it accepts over-the-air updates to the car’s system. So, drivers won’t be pestered with those frequent “update required” notifications. The car will automatically make those for the infotainment system, and drivers can just keep cruising.
Interior + Passenger Comfort
The base models of each of these options have modest-looking interiors. They certainly don’t look “cheap,” but they won’t wow anyone, either. That being said, each vehicle has comfortable and easy-to-clean seating. Materials tend to become more upscale as you move along the trim lineup. The highest trims feel like true luxury vehicles on the inside.
As far as passenger comfort goes, the Escape has the most passenger volume at 104 cubic feet. The CR-V and the Equinox both top out at 103.5 cubic feet, and the RAV4 comes in last with 98.9 cubic feet. The difference might seem minor, but it creeps up on you on long drives. You can see that most with the available second-row legroom. The Escape gives backseat passengers 40.7 inches of legroom, being only beaten by the 41.0 inches in the CR-V. The RAV4 gives you 37.8 inches, and the Equinox 39.9 inches. When you are a taller person on a long drive, or if you have kids who don’t want their siblings in their space, every little bit of extra room counts.
Performance and Capabilities
You might not think of compact SUVs when you think of towing, but compact SUVs can handle towing some small adventure or work equipment. They won’t be able to tow what a pickup or full-size SUV can, but if you’re just looking for something to drag the ATV or small camping pod out to the woods for the weekend, these SUVs can get the job done. The Escape and RAV4 can both handle up to 3,500 pounds of towing, which is an impressive amount for a smaller vehicle. The Equinox and CR-V, unfortunately, just can’t keep up, tapping out at only 1,500 pounds. These maximum weights will also vary even more if you get a hybrid model. The Escape Hybrid caps out at 1,500 pounds, the CR-V Hybrid at 1,000 pounds, and the RAV4 Hybrid at 1,750 pounds.
When it comes to just raw power, the Ford Escape will handle it the best. Its horsepower on its strongest engine far outshines the others. With its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, it sees a nice 250 hp. The others max out in the low 200s, and the Equinox only sees a modest 175 hp. Speaking of engines, the Escape, RAV4, and CR-V enjoy several engine options, but the Equinox only has one engine option.
As for fuel economy, the hybrid options are going to be the best, with the Escape, RAV4, and CR-V all getting roughly 40 MPG combined. However, even the fuel engine options are pretty good for these three models at around 30 MPG combined. The Equinox falls way behind on both fronts, with no hybrid option and an average of 28 MPG for its one engine option.
Driver Assist Features
The Ford Escape has one of the most comprehensive suites of standard driver-assist features with the Ford Co-Pilot360 and stands out in this category. These include features like blind-spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, which come standard on all Escapes but must be added on the RAV4. The Equinox is also rather limited with standard driver-assist features – more advanced ones must be added. The CV-R comes the closest to matching the Escape in standard features with the Honda Sensing suite.
Feel Safe and Comfortable in the Ford Escape
Each of these compact SUVs delivers stiff competition in their market. However, the Ford Escape shines in areas that really matter. Its standard driver-assist features are generous and advanced. These are arguably the most important features of a vehicle because if you can’t get where you’re going safely, you can’t even enjoy the fun parts of a car. However, when it comes to the fun parts, the Escape rises above the others there, too. Its touchscreen is much larger than the others, and its over-the-air automatic updates mean less time fussing with your screen to respond to system updates and more time enjoying the ride.
If towing is a priority for you, the Escape or RAV4 can handle up to 3,500 pounds. If you’re looking to save on gas but aren’t ready to go electric, each of these models, besides the Equinox, comes in a hybrid variety. Despite these similarities, the Escape manages to rise above the other choices. There are a lot of options when it comes to a great compact SUV, but after reviewing these four top contenders here, it’s hard not to opt for the Ford Escape.