What does it mean to be compact? As automotive trends turn more and more to smaller, tighter yet still valuable and powerful designs, what does it mean to have a great and worthwhile driving experience? The compact SUV is a varied body style, ranging from vehicles that could hardly be considered compact to those so small they might as well be considered hatchback sedans. So what makes a great compact SUV? Well, both Chevy and Ford believe they have what it takes in their 2020 Chevy Equinox and 2020 Ford Escape. The two long-time rivals design compact SUVs that bring plenty to the table in terms of power, utility, and overall value, but which of the two would make the better pick? Continue reading, and we’ll match up the 2020 Chevy Equinox vs 2020 Ford Escape, two compact SUVs that attempt to be the best of the best.
In the world of compact SUVs, standing out stylistically can be a bit of a challenge. Over the years, things have begun to look shockingly similar. While there may be some outliers in the automotive world, it’s hard to argue against the case that many compact SUVs look the same. Both the 2020 Ford Escape and the 2020 Chevy Equinox attempt to break out of that realm of similarity through blending the classic with the modern.
Let’s start with the 2020 Ford Escape, a vehicle that only eight short years ago looked very, very, different. The 2020 Ford Escape has taken the word compact and has run with it. With an elongated snout, and a mini-van appeal, the 2020 Ford Escape will certainly stand out from a pack of compact SUVs, but we don’t know if that’s good or bad. Some may find the exterior shell of the Ford Escape charming; others might find Ford’s choices a major turnoff. With a starting MSRP of $24,885, and five different trims to choose from, the Ford Escape does seem to show off a considerable amount of value out of the gate. That said, we’ll have to delve a little deeper into checking whether the 2020 Ford Escape lives up to expectation.
That brings us to the 2020 Chevy Equinox, a compact SUV that likes to stretch the limits of what it means to be compact. Unlike the Ford Escape, the styling of the 2020 Chevy Equinox is unique without being polarizing. Harking back on the boxier design of old, and looking a lot like a downsized full-size SUV, the 2020 Chevy Equinox offers broad stylistic appeal without taking any crazy chances. The pricing of the Chevy Equinox starts considerably lower than the Ford Escape, starting out at around $23,800. Although, the 2020 Chevy Equinox does have one less trim option than the 2020 Ford Escape, however, we’ll have to pop open the hood to see whether this is a hit against Chevy or not.
Full-Size Performance in a Compact SUV
What is often the case for the compact SUV is the promise of utility, but with the power of a mid-sized sedan. While this can be no issue in some forms, it can have some pretty disastrous results if done improperly. Both the 2020 Chevy Equinox and the 2020 Ford Escape attempt to deliver considerable power across their trim options; however, the compact size of the engine can come at a sacrifice to the overall power delivered.
The 2020 Ford Escape isn’t a big SUV, measuring in at just 181” long and 74” wide. As a result, you have a compact SUV that doesn’t need a lot of horsepower; this might be why Ford packed an equally compact three-cylinder beneath the hood. Off the bat, the Ford Escape comes with a 1.5-liter EcoBoost I-3 engine, which is rated at 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque. This isn’t a bad standard engine when put to the task, but we’d have liked to see a bit more torque. Sure, you can upgrade the 2020 Ford Escape to sport a 2.0-liter EcoBoost I-4 engine, which tops out at 250 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, but you’ll have to spend more to get it. The base engine does come with a front-wheel drive system and an 8-speed automatic transmission that gets the job done. In base models, you can also upgrade that front-wheel power to Ford’s Intelligent AWD, which can make for a bit more capability all around.
How does the 2020 Chevy Equinox compare? Well, measuring a bit larger than the Ford Escape, Chevy seemed to decide on a bigger standard engine, a 1.5-liter to be exact with ratings of up to 170 horsepower and 203 lb-ft of torque. While you’ll find more horsepower in the base engine of the Ford Escape, the initial torque offerings outpace the Ford competitor considerably. As a result, those who drive base models of the 2020 Chevy Equinox will be able to enjoy more engine power for SUV things like towing and hauling cargo. This base engine comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive that is bound to satisfy. And like the 2020 Ford Escape, the Chevy Equinox can be upgraded to deliver considerably better power.
At it’s best, the 2020 Chevy Equinox can be equipped with AWD and a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that puts out 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. This top powertrain is beefed up with a 9-speed automatic transmission and is rated for 3,500 lbs of towing capacity, which, as it turns out, matches up with the max towing capacity of the 2020 Ford Escape.
The Fine Details
When it comes to power and performance, the 2020 Chevy Equinox and the 2020 Ford Escape are pretty evenly matched. However, engine build isn’t the only factor that can define a compact SUV, cargo space and interior amenities also play a huge role in the value of these vehicles. Speaking of space, the Ford Escape and the Chevy Equinox are neck and neck yet again, with the Chevy Equinox offering 39.90 inches of room in the rear seats, and the Ford Escape promising 40.7 inches. The difference between the two is minuscule, and for the average passenger will be quite challenging to determine. Cargo space is where the Chevy Equinox has a considerable edge. While the Ford Escape does offer a max capacity of 60.8 cubic feet, the Chevy Equinox bumps things up a notch with 63.90 cubic feet to utilize.
Safety tech is another area where Chevy and Ford exist in similar lanes. For instance, the Ford Escape comes standard with Ford Co-Pilot, a safety package that includes a wide variety of active safety features such as lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, and automatic emergency braking. The standard safety package of the Chevy Equinox is a lookalike of the package offered in the Ford Escape, including features like lane keep assist, automatic emergency braking, and forward-collision alerts.
All in all, these two compact SUVs bring plenty of value to the table. Both will give you a decent driving experience, and while the Ford SUV lacks a bit in terms of torque, you can still expect some pretty solid performance. However, when you return to the price and the styling, the Chevy Equinox is the clear winner. In the Chevy Equinox, you can get everything offered in the Ford Escape, but in a less expensive, better looking, and a bit more powerful package.