When it comes to buying an SUV, particularly on a mid-range budget, it’s hard to look past Ford. A household name, Ford’s range of SUVs have always been reliable – from the classic Bronco to the more modern Edge and Escape.
Deciding between the models can feel like splitting hairs, especially when you factor in all the upgrades and options. Both are moderately priced, competitive in their respective classes, and tick many boxes for those looking for an SUV.
The Ford Edge is the bigger model, slotted just behind the Ford Explorer in terms of size. The Ford Escape is smaller, though bigger than the subcompact Ford EcoSport SUV.
At first glance there isn’t much to separate the two outside of the marginal difference in size and the sticker price. So, let’s take a look at these two vehicles in a bit more detail to find out which new Ford SUV is for you.
The Ford Edge is a bigger “mid-size” crossover SUV, whereas the Ford Escape is a “compact” crossover SUV. Besides being physically bigger, the Ford Edge offers more standard features and houses a bigger engine. However, the Ford Escape is more fuel efficient and is also available as a hybrid.
The price is the most obvious difference between these vehicles. The compact Ford Escape starts at a modest $24,885 for its base S model. The next 3 available upgrades (including the SE, SE Sport Hybrid, and SEL) all fall under $30k making the Escape more attractive from a price perspective. The Escape starts with a turbocharged 1.5 Litre Inline-3 Gas engine that’s matched with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The choice of Front-Wheel Drive or All-Wheel Drive is also available.
The midsize Ford Edge has a larger sticker price, reflecting the bigger size of the vehicle. The base model Edge SE starts at $31,100 with all subsequent upgrades coming just under $39k. The Edge boasts a gutsier 2.0-liter turbo inline-4 gas engine with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Basically, the jump in price brings with it a more powerful engine, as well as a larger vehicle with more space throughout.
Both the Ford Escape and Ford Edge sport an inoffensive design that is typical of a Ford SUV. The exterior of the larger Edge has a typical mean SUV look to it, and the mid-cycle facelift it received in 2019 means it still looks fresh and exciting.
By comparison, the Ford Escape reflects a Ford aesthetic that is slowly fading from their showrooms. With headlamps that wouldn’t look strange on a coupe, the Escape definitely looks sportier though, which gives it a different appeal to the Edge.
Stepping inside you get a varied experience with both offering a blend of modern and slightly outdated design choices. The escape has a sleeker design, with options such as timber panels in the upper trim. Combined with a digital display behind the wheel, flat buttons and a dial shift for the transmission, the Escape feels updated without being exceptionally modern. There is however, still large, bulky plastic present in the lower trim.
The Ford Edge interior feels like an updated, minimalist version of a fading aesthetic. The buttons aren’t chunky, giving the interior an uncluttered feel, although it still resembles the interior of cars gone by. An update on a classic, rather than the next generation feel of the Escape. The large built-in display, however, boasts excellent connectivity as standard and sits nicely within a polished dash. The Edge does feel more robust and complete than the Escape, giving it an advantage in this area.
The larger, more powerful engine of the Ford Edge makes it quicker off the line. Producing 250 horsepower, the Edge offers brisk acceleration and a little more responsiveness than the Escape. With an output of 180 horsepower, the Ford Escape lacks the grunt of the Ford Edge, though its lighter bodyweight means the difference isn’t as big as you might think.
However, what the Ford Escape lacks in power, it makes up for with a more nimble drive. The compact nature gives a grounded feeling around corners and offers comfortable ride, absorbing bumps on the road in an impressive manner. The Ford Edge will give you a similar experience, however, it’s a tad clunkier with a somewhat sluggish feeling from its steering.
For space, the larger Ford Edge is an obvious choice of the two 5-seater vehicles, though it’s worth noting the difference is not dramatic.
The Ford Edge offers an impressive 39.2 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats up, expanding to 73.4 cubic feet with the seats folded flat. Space is the theme throughout the rest of the car, with more leg and head room in both the front and passenger seats.
The more compact Ford Escape has a modest 34 cubic feet of cargo volume in its trunk with the seats up, with a maximum of 68 cubic feet once the seats are folded.
Technology and Features
The Ford Edge is the clear leader in this category as it comes with more features as standard. It boasts an inbuilt 8-inch touch screen, serving as the home for the SYNC 3 infotainment system. Offering impressive connectivity, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, 2 USB ports and dual-zone automatic climate control, all come as standard.
In keeping with its compact nature, the Escape brings less to the table with its base model. Its SYNC infotainment system is run from a tiny 4.2-inch touch screen, and only having one USB port will inconvenience many. Many features that come standard in the Ford Edge–such as the SYNC 3 infotainment system with larger touch screen and connectivity via services like Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and a Wi-Fi hot spot–are available as upgrades. Most buyers will definitely want to upgrade to the SYNC 3 infotainment.
Fuel economy is one of the areas where the Ford Escape comes into its element. What it lacks in power, it more than makes up for with its impressive fuel efficiency. Providing 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, the Escape can travel up to 442 miles before needing to refuel on its most optimized driving settings.
The larger Ford Edge, as to be expected, doesn’t perform well next to the Ford Escape. When compared to other vehicles in its own class however, it does sit well within the average. The 18.4-gallon tank will get you 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.
The Ford Edge and the Ford Escape are on par in regard to safety. Each have earned a 5/5-star rating for overall safety from the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), with each also scoring five stars in the side and frontal crash tests and four stars in the roll over test respectively.
Both vehicles are also equipped with Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 tech suite as standard, including the following safety features; a rear-view camera, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, driver drowsiness monitoring, lane keep assist, curve control, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, and Ford’s MyKey program. This is a program that gives you the flexibility to set speed and audio limits for secondary drivers who may share the vehicle.
Both performed well under the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), with the Escape and the Edge earned the highest rating, Good, across 6 crash tests. It is worth noting however, that the 2020 Ford Escape earned a higher predicted reliability rating from J.D. Power than the 2020 Edge.
Side by side, there isn’t much separating these two SUVs. The larger Ford Edge offers more tech features, space, and a larger engine as standard. However, the fuel economy and driving experience leaves something to be desired. The compact Escape however, offers impressive fuel economy, decent features, plenty of space, and a more agile and planted driving experience.
For value, the Escape is the obvious choice. Considering the leap in price between the two, the Escape offers more bang for your buck. Many of the upgrades available on the Ford Escape, including engine and tech features, will still keep you under the cost of the Ford Edge and its variants.
Of course, Ford also offers the Ford Explorer which is comparable to the Ford Edge in size, but offers an extra row of seating. If you’re looking for a bigger step up in size from the Ford Escape compact SUV, this is probably your answer.
Hopefully this comparison has cleared up what separates the two Ford models. Of course, no words can beat test driving the cars yourself, so head down to your nearest dealership to get a true feel for the differences.