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2021 Ford Escape Review

A fusion of animated performance, a roomy cabin, and a nearly best-in-class predicted reliability rating help the Ford Escape reach the top third of our compact SUV rankings.

Pros & Cons

  • Good cargo capacity
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Well-balanced ride and handling
  • Excellent predicted reliability rating
  • Cheap cabin materials
  • Transmission sometimes hunts for the right gear

Rankings & Research

The 2021 Ford Escape's #4 ranking is based on its score within the Compact SUVs category. Currently the Ford Escape has a score of 8.1 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 26 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.1

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.1
Performance: 7.2
Interior: 7.6
Safety: 9.7
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Ford Escape?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

Is the Ford Escape a Good SUV?

Yes, the Ford Escape is a great vehicle. Its predicted reliability rating is one of the highest among compact SUVs. Furthermore, this crossover has a robust turbo-four engine option, above-average mpg estimates with the base turbo-three engine, engaging handling, and a comfortable ride. Inside, it has plenty of space for passengers and cargo, though there are more than a few hard plastics in its cabin.

Why You Can Trust Us: 26 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to make shopping for your next car as easy as possible. You'll find everything you need to know about this SUV in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data like mpg estimates, horsepower specs, and cargo space dimensions with 26 professional reviews.

This 2021 Ford Escape review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2020.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we never accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an outside firm manages the ads on our site.

Should I Buy the Ford Escape?

While the Ford Escape is worth buying, shopping around is always a good idea, especially in the competitive small SUV segment. The Toyota RAV4 has more standard features and greater off-road capability than the Escape, and the Honda CR-V presents a roomier cabin and a higher cargo capacity. If you’d prefer a hybrid or plug-in hybrid, you’re in luck, as Ford makes both with the Escape Hybrid.

Find a 2021 Ford Escape for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Ford Escape: What's the Difference?

Outside of some minor shuffling of available features, Ford made no major changes to the Escape for the 2021 model year.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 Escape »

Here are the key changes for the Ford Escape over the last few years:

  • 2017: refreshed styling, turbocharged engine introduced, and more driver aids and tech features became newly available
  • 2018: SEL trim debuted
  • 2019: features reshuffled
  • 2020: fully redesigned with more standard driver assistance features and a revamped engine lineup, including a hybrid powertrain
  • 2021: Technology package and Co-Pilot360 suite gain more features

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Escape, 2019 Escape, and 2020 Escape reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Ford Escape Cost?

As of this writing, Ford has not released official pricing for the 2021 Escape. Using the similar 2020 model, we estimate that this crossover will retail for around $24,900, which is a hair above average for a compact SUV. The range-topping Titanium will likely cost around $36,400.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Ford dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Ford deals page.

Ford Escape Versus the Competition

Ford Escape vs. Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V is a perennial contender for the top of the compact SUV class. It can’t match the Ford’s agility or predicted reliability rating, but in most other respects, the Honda is the better choice. It has more cargo room, classier cabin materials, and slightly better mpg ratings. Both SUVs are expected to have similar retail prices, but the Honda gets you a bit more bang for your buck.

Compare the Escape and Honda CR-V »

Ford Escape vs. Ford Escape Hybrid

Choosing between the Ford Escape Hybrid and the gas-only Escape largely boils down to whether or not you want a hybrid. The Escape Hybrid comes with regular hybrid or plug-in-hybrid powertrains. Neither model can tow as much as the nonhybrid Escape, and both hybrids have a lower cargo capacity. On the flip side, they do get better fuel economy ratings than the nonhybrid Escape, and since they start with higher trim levels, they have more standard features.

Compare the Escape and Escape Hybrid »

Compare the Escape, CR-V, and Escape Hybrid »

Escape Interior: Low-Rent but High on Space

Escape Cargo Space

Depending on how the sliding rear seats are positioned, the Escape has between 33.5 and 37.5 cubic feet of space behind the second row. There’s a total of 65.4 cubic feet of space behind the first row. That’s a great cargo capacity for the class.

How Many People Does the Escape Seat?

This Ford can seat up to five people. While it's not the most spacious entry in the class, this small SUV still provides plenty of room. The rear seats can slide back for added legroom or forward if greater cargo capacity is more important. Some critics find the front seats to be well-cushioned, but others note they could be plusher.

Cloth upholstery is standard. Synthetic or genuine leather upholstery, heated and power-adjustable front seats, and a heated steering wheel are available.

Escape and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the Escape’s rear outboard seats. There’s also a tether anchor for the rear middle seat, which can borrow a lower anchor from each side. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this LATCH system the highest rating of Good+, which indicates that it's among the easiest to use.

Escape Interior Quality

While there are some nice materials around the Escape’s cabin, there are also several areas that feature cheap-feeling plastics, dragging down its appeal.

Escape Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The available SYNC 3 infotainment system is easy to use. The touch screen responds quickly to inputs, and there are physical knobs for climate and audio settings placed within arm’s reach.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 4.2-inch display, a USB port, Bluetooth, and a six-speaker stereo
  • Available infotainment features: an 8-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a Wi-Fi hot spot, navigation, a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo, and satellite radio
  • Other available features: proximity keyless entry, push-button start, remote start, a panoramic moonroof, and automatic climate control

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Escape Performance: All-Rounder

Escape Engine

You have a choice of two turbocharged EcoBoost engines in this SUV. Standard is a 1.5-liter three-cylinder with 181 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque. Available in the SEL and standard in the Titanium is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 250 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The base engine is fine. It’s no powerhouse, but it does the job bringing this vehicle up to speed. The turbo-four is peppier and helps with brisker acceleration. Critics deliver mixed opinions on the transmission, with some finding it operates smoothly and smartly, and others noting it sometimes has to hunt for the right gear.

Escape Gas Mileage

The 2021 Escape gets an EPA-estimated 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway with the base engine, which is great for a compact SUV. With the turbo-four engine, fuel economy drops to 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.

For something more fuel-efficient, consider the Ford Escape Hybrid or plug-in hybrid (PHEV).

Escape Ride and Handling

The Escape blends comfort and composure well. Most blemishes in the road are smoothed over by its suspension, and while this Ford won’t take hairpin turns as eagerly as the Mazda CX-5, its light steering and lack of body roll keep it feeling planted. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available.

Escape Towing Capacity

When properly equipped and outfitted with its 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine and AWD, this SUV can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

Read more about performance »

Escape Reliability

Is the Ford Escape Reliable?

The 2021 Ford Escape has a stellar predicted reliability rating of 4.5 out of five.

Ford Escape Warranty

Ford backs the Escape with a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Escape Safety

Escape Crash Test Results

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2021 Ford Escape the highest rating of Good in all six crash safety tests. For forward visibility, its headlights received the second-highest rating of Acceptable (in the Titanium trim) or the second-lowest rating of Marginal (in S, SE, and SEL trims).

The IIHS uses a separate scale for evaluating collision avoidance features. The 2021 Escape earned the highest rating of Superior for its standard and optional vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention systems. The standard vehicle-to-pedestrian system also earned a Superior rating, while the optional system received the midtier rating of Advanced.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Ford Escape an overall safety rating of five out of five stars, with five stars in the frontal and side crash tests and four stars in the rollover test.

Escape Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Rearview camera
  • Lane keep assist
  • Automatic high-beam headlights

Available advanced safety features:

  • Traffic jam assist
  • Stop-and-go adaptive cruise control
  • Lane centering
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Head-up display
  • Parallel and perpendicular park assist

Read more about safety »

Escape Dimensions and Weight

The Escape is about 15 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,298 to 3,566 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Ford Escape Built?

Ford builds the 2021 Escape in Kentucky.

Which Ford Escape Model Is Right for Me?

Ford makes the 2021 Escape in four trim levels: S, SE, SEL, and Titanium. All-wheel drive is a $1,500 option in all but the Titanium, where it’s standard. The Titanium is also the only trim to come standard with a four-cylinder engine, which is also available in the SEL. All other trims get a three-cylinder engine.

The Ford Escape SE is a good bet for its upgraded infotainment system. It’s also the first trim available with many of the features in higher trims. For the stronger engine, look to the SEL or Titanium. A panoramic moonroof is available in all but the base S for about $1,500.

Ford also offers the Escape with a hybrid or plug-in-hybrid powertrain. We review the Ford Escape Hybrid separately.

Ford Escape S

With an estimated starting MSRP around $24,900, the entry-level Escape S comes with cloth upholstery and the basic SYNC infotainment system with a 4.2-inch display, a six-speaker stereo, and a USB port. Ford’s Co-Pilot360 suite of driver assistance tech is included too. This bundles a pre-collision warning and braking system, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and automatic high-beam headlights. Remote start ($100) is optional.

Ford Escape SE

The Ford Escape SE will likely start at around $27,100. It gains proximity keyless entry, alloy wheels, and the SYNC 3 infotainment system, which includes an 8-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and satellite radio. For around $700, you can add the Co-Pilot 360 Assist suite, which has navigation, adaptive cruise control, and traffic jam assist.

A Convenience package includes dual-zone automatic climate control, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, and a rear-seat armrest with two cup holders. There’s also a Cold Weather package with heated front seats and automatic climate control. Neither package has official pricing of this writing.

Ford Escape SEL

With a retail price of roughly $29,300, the Ford Escape SEL adds the SE’s Convenience and Cold Weather packages. Other additions include ActiveX synthetic leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, rear parking sensors, and a hands-free, foot-activated liftgate.

For roughly $3,400, you can get the stronger turbo-four engine, which automatically adds all-wheel drive.

Ford Escape Titanium

The Titanium is expected to cost a bit more than $36,400. It comes standard with AWD and the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine. Additionally, the Titanium features leather seats, a six-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, wireless device charging, a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo, rain-sensing windshield wipers, lane centering, a park assist system, and Ford’s Co-Pilot360 Assist.

The Premium package 2.0 costs about $2,100 and adds a head-up display and panoramic moonroof.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Ford dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Ford deals page.

See 2021 Ford Escape specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2021 Ford Escape offers a little bit of everything. Its seats are spacious, and the available SYNC3 infotainment system is easy to operate. A peppy turbo-four engine option and balanced handling help this crossover feel relatively lively and fun to drive. Fuel economy with the base turbocharged three-cylinder engine is good too. On top of that, this compact SUV gets a high predicted reliability rating. There are some down-market plastics in its cabin, but overall, this Ford is an appealing vehicle.

Don't just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The Ford Escape may be a bit lost in the new Bronco’s shadow, but it shines as a practical everyday crossover SUV with good fuel efficiency and a variety of powertrains." -- Autotrader
  • "Despite its flaws, the Escape continues to be a decent option for compact SUV buyers, but competitors such as the Mazda CX-5 and Volkswagen Tiguan offer greater refinement, nicer furnishings, and more driving pleasure for similar money." -- Car and Driver
  • "… the new Escape will compete with a gaggle of solid competitors. On top of the aforementioned CR-V, CX-5 and RAV4, there's the Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Compass, Kia Sportage, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester and Volkswagen Tiguan to contend with. That's some seriously stiff competition, but with its well-built cabin, strong tech game and excellent ride comfort, the Escape makes a strong argument for being a top contender in this class." -- CNET (2020)

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: January 22, 2021

Falling Sales: Despite a redesign for the 2020 model year, sales of the Ford Escape struggled last year; dealerships moved 26.1 percent fewer Escape models compared to 2019. The compact SUV class-leading Toyota RAV4, which is one of the Escape’s main competitors, outsold the Ford more than 2 to 1.

Research more buying advice »
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