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2021 RAV4 vs. Escape Comparison

When you're looking to get out and get away, small crossover SUVs provide the performance and comfort to get you there. Equally capable in the city and on country roads, this generation of crossovers are more efficient than ever. The Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape are two SUVs that are similar in size and approach to the segment, but one of these crossovers has advantages in terms of standard features and optional upgrades.

The 2021 RAV4 comes standard with a more powerful 2.5L engine which has 203 horsepower compared to the Escape S which has a 1.5L engine that produces 181 horsepower.

You also get a lot more connectivity and customization options for the most expensive Toyota RAV4 Limited which costs less than the most expensive gas model Escape, the Escape Titanium.

Find out more about what these two crossovers have to offer in terms of safety, performance, and interior features next.

Published Date: 03/19/2021

Family and dog getting out of the 2021 RAV4

Safety

  • Both the RAV4 and Escape come with a whole suite of active safety features to help keep you safe.
  • Only the RAV4 has Road Sign Assist (RSA).
  • Whether you choose the RAV4 or Escape you'll be driving an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

When you're driving down the road, let the intuitive features of your RAV4 lead the way to a safe arrival.

Standard Safety Features

The RAV4 comes with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0) which offers a full suite of active safety features. These include 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) standard.

The Ford Escape offers Ford Co-Pilot 360™ Technology on all trims. This includes similar features like Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane-Keeping System, BLIS® with Cross-Traffic Alert, and Auto High-Beam Headlamps. For additional standard safety features, such as Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go and Lane Centering on the 2021 Escape, you'd have to upgrade to Ford Co-Pilot360™ Assist+ which is currently only available as an optional package for an additional $700 on the Escape SE and higher. Ford Co-Pilot360™ Assist+ is standard on the Escape Titanium and higher, however.

Aside from the included active safety features, the Ford Escape comes with an airbag system which includes a Personal Safety System™ with dual-stage driver and front-passenger airbags, Driver Knee Airbag, Front seat-mounted side-impact airbags, and a Safety Canopy® System. The RAV4 comes with the driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System, driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, driver's knee airbag, front passenger seat cushion airbag, and front and rear side curtain airbags.

With all of these available technology features, it's no wonder both 2021 vehicle models received IIHS Top Safety Pick awards when equipped with specific headlights.

2021 RAV4 driving on a windy dirt road

Performance

  • The RAV4 has more standard horsepower than the Escape S.
  • Whether you choose a gas or hybrid model, the RAV4 and Escape offer similar MPG ratings.
  • For off-roading, the RAV4 has the Adventure and TRD Off-Road with Multi-Terrain Select (MTS).

SUVs are perfect for road trips or off-road trips. With features like AWD and Downhill Assist Control (DAC), the RAV4 will help get you there.

Engine and Off-Road Performance

Performance starts from the inside out. With a standard 2.5L 4-Cyl engine, the RAV4 produces 203 horsepower. On the other hand, the Escape S has a standard 1.5L 1.3-Cylinder EcoBoost® engine that has 181 horsepower. The Escape does have an available 2.0L EcoBoost® 4-Cylinder engine which produces 250 horsepower. But, you'd have to get the 2021 Escape SEL or higher. It is standard on the Escape Titanium, however.

Both the RAV4 and Escape have hybrid engine options, too. The RAV4 LE Hybrid with AWD has 176 horsepower and an EPA-estimated 41/38/40 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating. The competitor Escape SE Hybrid with optional AWD has an EPA-estimated 43/37/40 (city/highway) MPG rating and a Maximum Horsepower of 165. New to the 2021 lineup, the Escape also includes several plug-in hybrid models which are a direct competitor of the RAV4 Prime plug-in.

If you go for gas, the RAV4 LE FWD has an EPA-estimated 27/35/30 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating, while the Escape S FWD has an EPA-estimated 28/34/30 (city/highway/combined).

For off-roading adventures the RAV4 Adventure and TRD Off-Road have a Multi-Terrain Select (MTS) dial with MUD & SAND, ROCK & DIRT, SNOW, and NORMAL drive modes, and Downhill Assist Control (DAC). The Escape comes with AdvanceTrac® with RSC® (Roll Stability Control™) for various road conditions like ice, gravel, and rain but doesn't include a comparable Downhill Assist feature. However, both have AWD trim options for even more traction control.

Perfect for road trips too, pack more up top on the roof of the RAV4 LE with standard low-profile roof rails for a starting MSRP of $26,250. Unique raised black roof rails are standard for the Adventure and TRD Off-Road. The Escape SEL and Titanium also have Roof Rack Side Rails standard.

Interior of 2021 RAV4

Interior

  • The RAV4 and Escape have similar connectivity options, however, only the RAV4 has Amazon Alexa compatibility.
  • Both the RAV4 and Escape have options for you to get a panoramic view of the world around you.
  • Fit more behind the RAV4's front seats with 69.8 cu. ft. compared to the Escape's 65.4 cu. ft. of space behind the front row.

Connect your devices and tune into the world around you with the RAV4's thoughtful interior space built with you in mind.

Connectivity and Convenience

The RAV4 LE comes standard with Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay®, and Amazon Alexa compatibility. To get more advanced connectivity options like Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay® with Ford SYNC® 3, you will have to get the 2021 Escape SE or higher.

For more advanced sound the RAV4 Limited has 11 JBL® speakers including a subwoofer and amplifier. The 2021 Escape Titanium has a B&O Sound System by Bang & Olufsen and 10-Speakers including a subwoofer. This however will cost you $35,755 while the RAV4 Limited FWD starts at $34,780.

Feel the wind in your hair with the standard moonroof on the RAV4 Limited. Or, get an even better view of the clouds with an available Panoramic glass roof with moonroof for an additional $2,540. The Escape Titanium with an available Panoramic Vista Roof will cost you an additional $1,495.

You also get more cargo space with the RAV4 which has a cargo volume of 69.8/37.6 cu. ft. behind front/rear seat compared to the 65.4/37.5 cu. ft. of room that the 2021 Escape S has behind the first and second rows.

Three 2021 RAV4 models parked in a row

Conclusion: RAV4 vs. Escape

  • Whether you choose the RAV4 or Escape you won't be lacking in safety features with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0) and Co-Pilot 360™ Technology, respectively.
  • For more control on steep descents, the RAV4 has available Downhill Assist Control (DAC).
  • Get the RAV4 Limited for a more upgraded ride.

Making its mark early in the small SUV market, the RAV4 has been around longer than the Ford Escape earning its recognition and reputation. Although the RAV4 has had more time to change things up, both vehicles have made interior and exterior improvements to stay at the top of their game.

Take for instance improvements in safety technology. The RAV4 comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0) and the Escape comes with Co-Pilot 360™ Technology. However, only the RAV4 has standard Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC).

For added luxury you can also upgrade your RAV4 to the Limited trim for less than the Escape Titanium.

Whether you want to spend a little more for the top-of-the-line model or want the budget savvy base trim RAV4, RAV4 offers more than the Ford Escape.