Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A blue 2016 used Ford EcoSport is driving down the road with the sun shining through the trees.

Escape to the EcoSport: Two Ford Crossovers with Real Differences

Ford raised some eyebrows when they first introduced the Ford EcoSport because they already had one popular crossover SUV on the market, the Ford Escape. Nevertheless, Ford rolled out this new option, a good-looking little SUV that proves its name with its sporty abilities and affordable price. As time has passed, people have come to realize that Ford made the right decision in releasing yet another SUV; the EcoSport appeals to a different market than the Escape. The difference between the EcoSport and the Escape is that Escape is larger than the EcoSport, while the EcoSport has a more affordable price tag than its big sister. Meaning, if you are in the market for a new or used Ford EcoSport or Escape, you will be pleased with either; they both have their pros.

Sizing Things Up – Or Down

Sometimes you need more room, and other times you’d prefer a smaller vehicle that’s more maneuverable and easier to park. The Escape is the larger of the two Ford crossovers. It has a 106.7-inch wheelbase, which carries over to a larger passenger cabin with a full 104 cu.ft. of space for you and your four passengers. The EcoSport has a tighter wheelbase of 99.2-inches that translates into 91.4 cu.ft. of passenger space. As a result, the interior of the EcoSport will be a little less roomy than the Escape. However, the EcoSport has a tighter turn radius making it easier to handle than the Escape.

This difference in size can be seen in how the passenger space is apportioned in the two vehicles. The EcoSport provides 39.6 inches of headroom, 41.3 inches of legroom, 53.3 inches of shoulder room, and 51.6 inches of hip room in the first row of seats, and an equally roomy 37.5 inches headroom, 36.7 inches of legroom, 51.3 inches of shoulder room, and 50.9 inches of hip room in the rear seats.

The Escape is even roomier, with 40 inches of headroom, 42.4 inches of legroom, 57.6 inches of shoulder room, and 55.2 inches of hip room in the front row and 39.3 inches of headroom, 40.7 inches of legroom, 56 inches of shoulder room, and 53.3 inches of hip room in the rear row of seats. Whichever crossover you choose, your passengers are sure to have plenty of room.

Both vehicles also have plenty of trunk space. The EcoSport offers a full 20.9 cu.ft. in its trunk that expands to 50 cu.ft. with the rear row of seats folded down. The Escape is even more generous with 37.4 cu.ft. of cargo space in the trunk that increases to 65.4 cu.ft. when you fold down the rear row of seats. In all, if you need more space in your vehicle, it will be best to opt for the Escape, but if you live in the city and often need to park in tight spots, consider the EcoSport your best option.

Exceptional Performance

The black and orange interior is shown on a 2016 used Ford EcoSport.

Whether you are buying an EcoSport or an Escape, Ford puts you in the driver seat in deciding on the engine for your crossover. The standard engine on the EcoSport is a very economical 1.0-liter EcoBoost I-4 that provides 123 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque. There is also an optional 2.0-liter Ti-VCT direct-injection I-4 engine that produces 166 hp and 149 lb-ft of torque. The EcoSport models with this model are 4-wheel drive only. This is an Intelligent 4WD System that improves the EcoSport’s overall traction.

The Escape also has two engine options. The standard engine is a 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine that produces 181 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque. The other engine option is a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine that can provide up to 250 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. All Ford Escape models feature an 8-speed automatic transmission. Ford also added a hybrid option on the Escape for the 2020 model year that provides exceptional mileage of 44 MPG in city driving and 37 MPG on the highway.

In general, Ford has done an excellent job of enhancing the fuel economy on both the EcoSport and Escape crossover SUVs. A big part of this is the use of the Auto Stop/Start system on the engines for each vehicle. This will automatically shut off the engine when you come to a stop at a light or in heavy traffic, then restart the engine as soon as you take your foot off the brake. This system will improve fuel efficiency while also reducing the vehicle’s emissions.

As a result, front-wheel drive EcoSport models will provide 27 MPG in city driving and 29 MPG on the highway, while those with AWD will achieve 23 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway. Similarly, an Escape with FWD and a 1.5-liter engine can expect 27 MPG in the city and 33 MPG on the highway, while AWD models with the same engine provide 26 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway. The Escape with the larger 2.0-liter engine gets 23 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway. As you can see, that is exceptional fuel efficiency, no matter which model you choose.

With respect to overall performance, you can’t go wrong with either model. Both provide plenty of pickup off the light, handle exceptionally well, and will get you where you want to go in a safe and efficient manner. If you need to tow a trailer, the Escape will provide better performance than the EcoSport. The Escape has been rated to be able to tow up to 3,500 pounds, while the EcoSport with the 1.0-liter engine has a trailer rating of 1,400 pounds that increases to 2,000 pounds of trailer with the 2.0-liter engine. Either option, though, proves to have something to offer.

A blue 2016 used Ford EcoSport is driving down a blurred city street.

A Quick Peek at Features

Ford offers the EcoSport and Escape both in four different trim levels. The S is the base model for each, followed by the SE. The EcoSport continues with the Titanium and then the SES, while the Escape’s lineup moves forward with the SEL, and then the Titanium. Each trim has more to offer than the next, but all have something special.

Both the Escape Titanium and EcoSport SES, the top-of-the-line trims, have a fully loaded infotainment system. The Escape Titanium comes with the SYNC 3 system with an 8-inch color touchscreen, FordPass Connect, and a B&O Sound System by Bang & Olufsen. Similarly, the EcoSport SES has a SYNC 3 system with an 8-inch color touchscreen, a voice-activated navigation system, FordPass Connect with Wi-Fi hotspot, and a 7-speaker audio system. Both of these models will give you plenty of entertainment, whether you’re doing the driving or just listening to the great sound system on the SYNC 3 system and letting someone else take the wheel.

All in All…

When push comes to shove, the Ford EcoSport and the Ford Escape are two excellent SUVs. While the Escape is larger and provides additional space for cargo and passengers, the EcoSport will give you better overall maneuverability. However, they are both built Ford tough, maximizing overall performance, fuel economy, roominess, and dependability. So when it comes to picking one, the choice is dependent on what you need.