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A gray Terrain parked in front of a river after winning 2019 GMC Terrain vs 2019 Ford Escape

Should You Pick the GMC Terrain or the Ford Escape?

Small SUVs are a great option for anyone who wants the power, convenience, and freedom of an SUV without needing the space to store a massive full-size model. In recent years, this part of the market has become increasingly popular and there is no shortage of vehicles to consider when looking for a small SUV. It can be helpful to look at just one or two at a time, however, to see what they offer and how they compare—so let’s consider the 2019 GMC Terrain vs 2019 Ford Escape and see how they stack up.

To keep things simple, we’re not going to look at every single aspect of these two vehicles, because honestly, who has time for that? But some key specs will reveal a lot about what they have to offer. I’ll start by looking at their engines and the kind of power and performance they offer—including towing capacity. Then we’ll talk about the amount of passenger and cargo space each of these SUVs has to offer.

From there we’ll move inside and I’ll explore the interior options and features that you can get with the GMC Terrain and the Ford Escape. Finally, we’ll take a look at safety features to make sure these small SUVs can keep you and your loved ones safe. Which one will prove itself the better option? Let’s find out…

Engines – Power and Performance

Let’s just get this out of the way: I know you’re not picking a small SUV because you want the pinnacle of power and performance in a vehicle. We both know there are more powerful options out there—and you’re not going to see huge horsepower and torque like you would with a sports car or even a larger SUV. However, the engines in these vehicles are still important and you want to know they can get you where you need to go.

So, the 2019 GMC Terrain has three different engines available, depending on the trim level and configuration you’re interested in. The starting engine is a 1.5L Turbo 4-cylinder that provides up to 170hp and 203 lb-ft of torque—not bad to start with. Next up you can get a 1.6L Turbo-Diesel 4-cylinder engine that offers up to 137hp and 240 lb-ft of torque, which is a great choice for additional towing power. Finally, there is an available 2.0L Turbo 4-cylinder engine that gives you up to 252hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, for the best performance overall.

By comparison, the 2019 Ford Escape also has three engines available, depending on trim level. It starts with a 2.5L Duratec engine that provides up to 168hp and 170 lb-ft of torque, which falls short of the Terrain’s starting engine. Next up is a 1.5L EcoBoost engine that offers up to 179 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. Finally, there is an available 2.0L EcoBoost engine that provides up to 245 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque, which is quite comparable to the best engine from GMC.

In terms of what these engines deliver, when properly configured both the 2019 GMC Terrain and the 2019 Ford Escape have maximum towing capacities of up to 3,500 lbs. The best fuel economy you can get with the 2019 GMC Terrain is up to 26/30 mpg in the city and highway, while the 2019 Ford Escape can only get up to 23/30 mpg in the city and highway. In other words, they are both pretty comparable, though the 2019 GMC Terrain can get a bit more horsepower and can offer better gas mileage in the city.

Interior Passenger and Cargo Space

As these are both small SUVs, it should come as no surprise that they offer pretty comparable amounts of interior space. The 2019 GMC Terrain offers room for up to 5 people and has just over 40 inches of front leg room. There is more than 63 cu.ft. of cargo space behind the front row and almost 30 cu.ft. of cargo volume behind the second row. Overall, that should be plenty of room for your passengers or anything you want to load up into your SUV.

By comparison, the 2019 Ford Escape offers room for 5 people and it has about 43 inches of leg room for the first row. There is about 68 cu.ft. of cargo space behind the front row, with 34 cu.ft. of cargo volume behind the second row. As you can see, the Escape gives you a few more cubic feet of space for cargo—however, the differences are pretty minimal and you are not likely to see them unless you really need every last inch of space.

Interior Options and Features

A closeup of the rear seat reminder in a Terrain Denali, a safety feature that helped it win 2019 GMC Terrain vs 2019 Ford Escape

As important as space is inside your vehicle for your passengers and cargo, just as important (some might argue even more important) is the level of comfort and luxury inside your SUV. You’ll be spending a lot of time driving your vehicle, so it should be as sophisticated and luxurious as possible. Let’s see what these two small SUVs have to offer.

At its highest trim level, the 2019 GMC Terrain Denali offers some of the most impressive luxury features found anywhere. These features include an 8-inch Infotainment system with Navigation, a Bose premium 7-speaker sound system, and numerous USB ports. The Terrain Denali also includes a wireless charging area, perforated leather-appointed seating with heated driver and front passenger seats, and an 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat. It has a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel with controls on it, a 4-inch color driver information screen, and remote start.

By comparison, the 2019 Ford Escape Titanium, which is its highest trim level, includes an 8-inch Infotainment system with Navigation, a Sony sound system, and USB ports. The Escape Platinum lacks the Terrain Denali’s wireless charging area, though it does have leather-trimmed seats with a 10-way power adjustable driver seat. It also has a leather-wrapped steering wheel with controls and a remote start system. Overall the 2019 Ford Escape is very nice, but can’t quite match the luxury of the 2019 GMC Terrain Denali.

Safety Features

Nothing else a vehicle has to offer matters if it cannot keep you safe. To keep things simple, let’s look at what the highest trim levels, the Denali and Titanium, of these two SUVs have to offer. Just keep in mind that starter models will lack some of these features.

The 2019 GMC Terrain Denali includes StabiliTrack with electronic stability and traction control, hill descent controls, a full airbag system, and rear cross traffic alert. It also includes lane change alert with side blind zone alert, rear park assist and an HD rear vision camera, and a teen driver safety system. One particularly nice feature is the included safety alert seat, so all alerts can be felt through vibrations in the seat, in addition to an audible warning.

The 2019 Ford Escape Titanium has some great safety features but sadly falls short of what the Terrain Denali delivers. The Escape Titanium has AdvanceTrac with stability control, a robust airbag system, and brake assist. It has a standard rear vision camera, rear park assist, and forward and side sensing systems. The Escape Titanium lacks some of the alerts found in the 2019 GMC Terrain Denali, and there are no options for a teen driver system or safety alert seat.

The Last Word

In some ways, the 2019 GMC Terrain and the 2019 Ford Escape are quite similar and you could be very happy with either of them. In some other ways, however, one clearly comes out on top. To be fair, the Ford Escape offers a bit more interior space for front-row leg room and cargo storage. Otherwise, however, the 2019 GMC Terrain seems the clear winner, with more powerful engines, a better option for fuel economy, and a lot more in terms of luxury and safety features.