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Mid-sized SUVs have become one of the most popular vehicle types on the road today. Honda and Ford are two of the most successful automobile manufacturers in the world today. Honda has a reputation for building reliable, long-lasting vehicles. Ford produces some of the best-selling trucks and SUVs in North America. It's only natural for consumers and car enthusiasts to compare the mid-sized SUVs offered by these two automakers.
The 2021 Honda CR-V is a versatile vehicle with an upscale interior. It offers tons of cargo space and room for up to five people. The CR-V also offers some impressive fuel-economy numbers. Ford's 2021 Escape offers several strong powertrain options and a sleek exterior design. It also has room for five people and comes standard with some impressive safety features and driver-assist technology.
The 2021 Honda CR-V has two different powertrain options. The standard model is equipped with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This 1.5-liter engine can produce up to 190 horsepower. Front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive models are both offered here. This version of the CR-V gets a 2-speed continuously-variable transmission with overdrive.
A CR-V equipped with all-wheel drive should see around 29 miles-per-gallon in combined driving in both the city and on the highway. All-wheel drive models have a combined fuel-economy rating of 30 miles-per-gallon. The CR-V has a fuel-tank capacity of 14 gallons. Acceleration is brisk and braking is strong and smooth.
Honda also offers a hybrid model of their 2021 CR-V. This version of the mid-sized SUV can crank out 212 horsepower with loads of instant torque for improved acceleration. The brakes work just as well here as they do for the gasoline-engine models. The hybrid models offer excellent fuel efficiency, getting up to 40 miles-per-gallon when driven on the highway. They come in at around 35 miles-per-gallon in the city with a combination of gasoline and electric power.
Hybrid models have an electronic continuously-variable transmission. Drivers can choose from Sport Mode and Deceleration Selectors to adjust the acceleration and handling for specific driving scenarios. Honda has one of the best reputations in the business when it comes to reliability. They back up the CR-V with a warranty that covers the powertrain for up to 60 months or 60,000 miles.
The 2021 Ford Escape base models come with a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder engine that produces 181 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque. That's one cylinder and 9 horses less than the base models of the CR-V. Ford ultimately wins the power competition with an available turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that can crank out 250 horsepower with 280 pound-feet of torque.
Just like the CR-V from Honda, the Ford Escape has an available hybrid powertrain. This setup has a larger, 2.5-liter engine that produces around 200 horsepower. There is even a plug-in version of the hybrid models. The Ford hybrids beat out Honda when it comes to fuel efficiency, though the results are close. The Escape hybrids can get up to 44 miles-per-gallon on the highway and 37 miles-per-gallon in the city.
Base models of the Escape have an 8-speed automatic transmission. Hybrid models of the Escape have a CVT or continuously-variable transmission. Acceleration is good no matter which powertrain and transmission the Escape comes equipped with. The brakes are both responsive and strong. Just like the CR-V, the Escape can be had in either all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive variations.
Ford offers a warranty that covers the powertrain for up to 60 months or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. The basic warranty offers coverage for up to 36 months or 36,000 miles. Both Honda and Ford offer warranties that are nearly identical.
The Honda CR-V has an elegant and modern interior design. The fit and finish are exceptional inside of this SUV. High-quality materials are everywhere along with faux-wood and chrome trim. The interior stays nice and quiet thanks to solid sound proofing and the smooth-running engine options. The front seats are supportive and comfortable with leather trim and heating offered at the higher trim levels.
The CR-V has an available moonroof for fresh air and an excellent view. The Dual-Zone, Automatic Climate-Control System should keep every occupant comfortable. The front-seat area feels surprisingly spacious considering the overall size of this vehicle. There's around 103 cubic-feet of passenger space in all.
The CR-V has around 39.2 cubic-feet of storage space behind the rear seats. These can be folded down for an even larger cargo area. This increases the storage area up to 75.8 cubic feet. Hybrid models offer slightly less room with 68.7 cubic-feet of cargo space.
The suspension system makes for one smooth ride here. There's also plenty of technology for entertainment and convenience. The higher trim levels get a large 7-inch touchscreen display for the infotainment system. There's an optional nine-speaker audio setup and an available navigation system too. The controls for all of these functions are well designed and within easy reach of the driver.
The interior of Ford's 2021 Escape isn't quite as posh as the Honda CR-V. There are a lot more plastics and cheaper materials here. The fit and finish, however, still remains quite good. Ride quality is excellent as well, if maybe just a bit less refined than what the Honda offers. Engine noise is more noticeable in the Ford unless one of the hybrid models are chosen.
Depending on the model, the Escape will have either 34.4 or 37.5 cubic-feet of cargo space in back. This can be expanded to 60.8 or 65.4 cubic-feet of space with the rear seats folded down flat. The Escape has a solid suspension system that can even tackle some light off-road activities. This makes it quite the versatile little SUV.
The seats are on par with what Honda has to offer, though the upholstery isn't quite as luxurious. Ford does offer real leather at the highest trim levels. Every other models gets basic cloth upholstery or faux-leather trim. The seats are quite comfortable, nonetheless.
Ford's Sync3 Infotainment system is a step up from the Honda setup. There's a larger 8-inch touchscreen as well as a separate 12.3-inch driver-information screen. The Titanium trim package comes with a premium audio system from B&0 with a total of 10 speakers. Bluetooth technology and an available navigation system are offered here as well.
Ford's voice-command technology and control layout is just a bit better than the Honda's setup. The Ford Sync3 system is just easier to use overall. The Escape has excellent steering and handling, though the Honda CR-V is a little more tight and responsive. As with most categories when comparing these two vehicles, things are really close when it comes to steering and handling. It's not always easy to pick a clear winner.
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The Honda CR-V has a number of active and passive safety features to keep occupants safe. Anti-Lock Brakes and Electronic Brake Distribution are standard on all models. The Vehicle Stability Assist and Traction Control systems help with stability and handling. Every trim level gets a Tire-Pressure Monitor to help avoid flats and blowouts.
The CR-V has a rear-view camera with multiple angles. The camera has guidelines to make parking easier with dynamic guidelines on the higher trim levels. A Forward-Collision Warning gives drivers a heads up to help prevent accidents. The Lane Departure Warning helps to make sure the vehicle stays safely in its own lane.
The CR-V has a Blind-Spot Information System to prevent unfortunate accidents due to visibility issues. Honda uses A.C.E. body construction and an advanced airbag system for two levels of protection in the event of a collision. The IIHS has named the 2021 Honda CR-V a Top Safety Pick with a "Good," rating in most categories.
The IIHS also awarded Ford's 2021 Escape with the Top Safety Pick title. Both vehicles come equipped with similar features in this category too. Ford has its own proprietary technology called Co-Pilot360. This is an entire suite of features to keep the driver and all passengers safer. This includes Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking and Lane-Keeping Assist.
Just like the CR-V, the Escape features a rear-view camera for better awareness of what's behind the vehicle. Evasive Steering Assist offers extra support for the driver and makes things just a little bit easier when doing emergency maneuvers. The Escape has Blind-Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert too.
Every model of the Escape has Dual-Stage Airbags up front. There are side-impact bags and an extra bag around the knee area of the driver. The Ford Escape also comes equipped with an anti-theft alarm system to keep the vehicle safe from would-be thieves.
Which Has the Best Value?
The 2021 Ford Escape has a base price of just under $25,000. The top-level Titanium trim comes in at a MSRP of $36,435. These numbers can go up quickly when optional equipment and extra features are tacked on. The 2021 Honda CR-V has a base cost of $25,350 with its highest trim level coming in at a MSRP of $33,650. The numbers are very close, but the top-tier Honda is cheaper in spite of its more upscale interior.
When it comes to best overall value, things get a little bit more complicated. The Ford Escape offers better fuel economy, though the numbers are very close. It also has more standard features to be had at a lower overall cost when compared to a similarly equipped Honda CR-V. These factors may make the Ford a better bargain in the long run. It's also worth noting Ford offers the cheapest model available too.
Honda may have the better interior with higher-quality materials, but Ford does offer the better sound system and infotainment center. Which one is the best value may come down to the buyer's preference. Both have comfortable seats and provide a good ride quality. Both have fuel-efficient hybrid powertrains. Ford offers the most horsepower for the money.
Which Is Better?
Deciding which vehicle is better will depend on the individual buyer and what their specific tastes and needs are. For buyers on a tight budget, the base-model Ford Escape is the absolute cheapest model available. For those looking for the most horsepower, the Ford wins out there too. It's worth noting, however, that the Honda is no slouch when it comes to acceleration.
Both vehicles offer similar fuel-economy numbers, with the Ford saving drivers more money in the long run. The Honda has a nicer interior and a better overall ride quality. Steering and handling are better in the Honda as well. The Honda CR-V also offers more cargo space in back. Drivers who need the extra storage space should probably go with the Honda. For everyone else, the Ford will likely be their best bet.