|3,500||Max Towing (lbs)||1,500|
As appealing as a full-size SUV may seem, it makes more sense for some drivers to invest in a small-size SUV for a few reasons. Full-size SUVs have their place in the market, and for those who need a vehicle that seats upwards of seven people, there are few options besides these and minivans. Small-size SUVs are for those who don’t need more than five seats and a decent amount of cargo space. There are a few examples of small-size SUVs in the market today, but a competing duo this year is the 2021 Ford Escape vs 2021 Chevy Equinox discussion.
Both of these American manufacturers have been in the industry for over a century, with the introduction of Ford taking place a few years before Chevy. Many different generations of Americans have driven vehicles from both of these brands, and both Escape and Equinox share enough in common to appear side-by-side in comparisons, but many differences are worth mentioning.
Trim levels between the two vehicles differ greatly, and it’s with the Ford Escape where you’ll have the most customizability. Although the Escape starts at a slightly higher MSRP than the Equinox, drivers will likely find appeal in the wide selection of Escape models. You will also find that you get more desirable features with the slightly higher starting price, which makes the 2021 Ford Escape more than worth it. So, if a small SUV is a better fit for your lifestyle, the 2021 Ford Escape is definitely one you should look at.
Just because an SUV is considered small-size, that doesn’t mean that it should have small-sized performance. Between the 2021 Ford Escape and Chevy Equinox, the difference between the two couldn’t be larger. There is only one powertrain configuration for the Equinox, and this comes with the disadvantage of being stuck with what some would consider entry-level performance even on the more expensive models. This can be seen as a massive oversight on Chevy’s part as Ford offers four powertrain configurations, two of which are for the hybrid and plug-in hybrid.
The base engine inside of the 2021 Escape is a turbocharged 1.5L 3-cylinder engine that produces 181 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque, and this engine will have an 8-speed automatic transmission with it. Coming with every Equinox model is a turbocharged 1.5L 4-cylinder that comes paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission and will generate 170 and 203 lb-ft of torque. The torque output is the only aspect of this engine that outperforms the one found in the base Escape models but doesn’t have the horsepower to match, nor does it achieve the same level of fuel efficiency. Equinox models with front-wheel drive will get estimated ratings of 26 MPG city and 31 MPG highway, but the base engine in the Escape outperforms this with roughly 28 MPG city and 34 MPG highway with front-wheel drive.
The next available engine for the Escape is a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder engine that is also paired alongside an 8-speed automatic transmission. There is simply no engine available for the Equinox that performs at the same level as this one with its 250 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. For some perspective, that is an approximate 47% increase in horsepower and a 37.9% increase in torque output compared to the Equinox.
There is currently no hybrid model for the 2021 Equinox, and this is something that has been seen as a disadvantage by various critics as hybrids and electric vehicles are becoming a more common thing in the industry. The 2021 Escape is available in both a hybrid and plug-in hybrid variant, both of which utilize the same setup that consists of a 2.5L 4-cylinder that is teamed up with an 88-kW electric motor. This combination is good for 200 hp and 155 lb-ft of torque, and the hybrid model will earn EPA-estimated ratings of 44 MPG city and 37 MPG highway with front-wheel drive. With the plug-in model, you will see up to 105 MPGe.
Inside of the 2021 Escape and Equinox, both of these SUVs rightfully earn their place among other current SUV models with a spacious interior and new and exciting tech to accompany them. With both of these models being small-size SUVs, you shouldn’t expect more than a five-passenger capacity, and that’s exactly what both vehicles offer. For the most part, the 2021 Escape will be a better fit for most passengers as it will give you the most head and legroom for every seat.
Headroom in the front row is identical between the two at 40-inches, but in the second row, 39.3-inches of headroom for the Escape beats out Equinox’s 38.5-inches. Legroom in both rows is again a better fit on the Escape, with the front row receiving 42.4-inches and the backseat having 40.7-inches. This is better than the 40.9-inches and 39.9-inches of legroom in the Equinox front and back row.
Many drivers are likely looking for a small-size SUV because they require an ample amount of cargo space, an amount that’s less than a full-size SUV but more than a vehicle such as a sedan. Both the 2021 Escape and Equinox have a similar amount of cargo space when the backseats are folded downward, with Ford’s vehicle having a max of 65.4 cu.ft. of space, or 60.8 cu ft. of space for the hybrid models. When the backseats of the Equinox are folded downward, you’ll have 63.9 cu.ft. of space, which, although is highly similar to the Escape's, it's still smaller. In their normal state with the backseats not folded downward, the Escape still out beats the Equinox with up to 37.5 cu.ft. of space as opposed to the Equinox’s 29.9 cu.ft.
It's always interesting to see what safety features will be included in new vehicles since the technology improves so quickly. Generally, the setup between the 2021 Escape and Equinox is a similar one, with a majority of their safety features coming standard, but a few extra ones are available as upgrades. Starting with the Equinox, one of the missing standard features is Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert. This is a feature that is meant to keep you both safe and aware of blind spot obstructions and will send you a warning signal should you try to switch lanes at a time when it’s unsafe to do so. Both of these features are found standard on the Escape, which is a rather interesting decision by Chevy considering that most of the other safety features are highly similar.
Ford’s system is known as BLIS, which stands for Blind Spot Information System, and it comes with Cross-Traffic Alert. With this feature, a combination of sensors and cameras can detect bypassing traffic when your vehicle is in reverse. Chevy has a similar feature, but it doesn’t come standard on the 2021 Equinox. A situation where this can be highly beneficial is when you’re reversing out of a parking space in a bustling parking lot and can avoid getting yourself caught in an accidental collision.
One of the features that doesn't come standard on either vehicle is Rear Park Assist. This feature is different from Rear-Cross Traffic Alert as this assist is capable of identifying obstructions such as a pole, shopping cart, or even another vehicle when you’re parking your vehicle. With both features combined, both parking and leaving a parking space should be slightly less bothersome.
Both the 2021 Escape and Equinox come with a form of Automatic Emergency Braking so that your vehicle can put pressure on the brakes if an accident is about to occur. This comes alongside Pre-Collision Assist on the Escape, and for the Equinox, it’s labeled as Forward Collision Alert. These features are designed to alert the driver of an imminent accident so that they can respond, and if the response isn't quick enough, Automatic Emergency Braking will kick in. Additionally, both the Escape and Equinox come equipped with a Lane-Keeping System that will alert you if you’re unintentionally swerving and will even help to stabilize your steering in an event where you’re drifting. Lastly, both vehicles come with automatic high beams (IntelliBeam for Chevy and Auto-High Beam Headlamps for Ford) that will illuminate the roads in hard-to-see conditions. They also automatically adjust between the low and high beams depending on the lighting conditions and if the system senses an oncoming vehicle.