When it comes to versatility, small SUVs are a popular choice for many because they are a beautiful blend of comfort and sport-utility. Toyota helped usher in this new era of SUVs to North America with the RAV4 in model year 1996. A little while later, the Ford Escape drove onto the scene in 2001. Toyota and Ford have continued their rivalry to this day, bringing new improvements each year.
One way they have both stepped up is in terms of safety. Both the RAV4 and the Escape have a suite of active safety features. Toyota drivers can take advantage of Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0) while Ford offers Ford Co-Pilot360™.
On top of these standard safety features, the RAV4 has ToyotaCare to help keep your car running smoothly. Ford has their Ford Protect Premium Maintenance Plan, but it costs extra on the Escape.
Although these vehicles seem to offer similar features, let's take a closer look at the 2020 RAV4 vs. Ford Escape. Find out who wins in categories like safety, reliability, and performance.
Publish Date: 07/30/2020
Aside from your car having curb appeal, sitting in the driver's seat should come with peace of mind.
Experts from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the 2020 RAV4 a Good+ rating for its child seat anchors extra latch positions. For its part, the Ford Escape was awarded Good in this category. Both vehicles received an overall IIHS Top Safety Pick rating for 2020.
Additionally, the RAV4 base trim comes standard with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0) suite of active safety systems. TSS 2.0 includes a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), and Road Sign Assist (RSA).
Ford has its own suite of safety features called Ford Co-Pilot360™ Technology. It includes Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane-Keeping System, a Rear View Camera, and Auto High-Beam Headlamps. To utilize the more advanced features of Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist™ and Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+™, consumers would need to upgrade to the more expensive Ford Escape SE or higher.
Even though both the Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape were awarded a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating by the NHTSA as of 2020, the RAV4 still comes with more standard safety features than the Escape, such as Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) and Road Sign Assist (RSA).
In addition to safety, drivers are looking for a vehicle that is known for reliability.
Toyota is known for “Quality, Durability and Reliability”. When it comes to off-roading capabilities, Toyota has a legendary heritage. The torque-vectoring AWD system found on the 2020 RAV4 Adventure, Limited, and TRD Off-Road models offer Multi-Terrain Select and Downhill Assist Control (DAC) features to get you where you need to go. The Ford Escape does offer AWD but lacks similar off-road capabilities.
Going back to brand reliability, ToyotaCare comes with every new Toyota. It includes a factory-scheduled maintenance plan and roadside assistance. ToyotaCare lasts 2 years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first. Roadside assistance lasts 2 years and unlimited miles. Comparably, Ford offers Ford Roadside Assistance for 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever occurs first, but the ToyotaCare-comparable Ford Protect Premium Maintenance Plan will cost extra on the Escape.
Toyota was also named Kelley Blue Book®’s Best Resale Value Brand for 2017, 2018, and 2019. While other Ford vehicles have been awarded the Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards for 2019, the Ford Escape was not one of them.
When you're looking for a new SUV, the delicate balance between power and fuel efficiency is key.
The Toyota RAV4 leads the pack in terms of offering a high performing engine while maintaining high fuel-economy estimate ratings, particularly with its hybrid drivetrain. The 2020 RAV4 LE Hybrid trim has 219 net combined horsepower and standard AWD. The 2020 Ford Escape 2.5L iVCT Atkinson-Cycle I-4 Hybrid engine has a net combined horsepower of 200 and offers AWD as an extra-cost feature.
Despite the RAV4 Hybrid’s higher horsepower numbers, these two hybrids have very similar EPA-estimated MPG ratings. The 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid AWD has an EPA-estimated rating of 43/37/40 (city/hwy/comb) and the 2020 RAV4 Hybrid has an EPA-estimated rating of 41/38/40 (city/hwy/comb).
The base engine option of the AWD gas model Ford Escape has an EPA-estimated 26/31/28 (city/hwy/comb) MPG rating and 181 horsepower. The base, gas model RAV4 LE AWD has a better EPA-estimated 27/34/30 (city/hwy/comb) MPG rating and 203 horsepower.
When it comes to picking a small SUV, there are many reasons to pick the 2020 Toyota RAV4. One reason is its impressive safety ratings. The 2020 RAV4 received the Good+ rating by the IIHS for its child seat anchors extra latch positions while the Ford Escape was awarded a Good rating.
Another reason to consider the RAV4 is its maintenance program. Every new Toyota comes with ToyotaCare; a factory-scheduled maintenance plan and roadside assistance. ToyotaCare lasts 2 years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first. Roadside assistance lasts 2 years and unlimited miles. Ford offers Ford Roadside Assistance for 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever occurs first, but factory-scheduled maintenance will cost extra.
One of the best reasons to choose a RAV4 has to do with safety. All trims of the RAV4 come with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0). The 2020 Ford Escape has some safety features in its Ford Co-Pilot360™ Technology safety package, but misses out on others such as Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) and Road Sign Assist (RSA). What’s more, Ford’s complete safety package, Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+™, is not available on the base model Escape. To get this package, Escape buyers would have to choose the Titanium trim which will cost extra.
If you’re looking for a fun, compact SUV that gives you safety and reliability, the winner is clear: the 2020 Toyota RAV4.