2022 Toyota RAV4 vs Ford Escape
As you shop around for a new small SUV to replace your current vehicle, you will really have your work cut out for you. This is undeniably a highly competitive segment, and all of these small SUVs strive to supersede one another in terms of power, fuel economy, and included technological features. Two such rivals that will probably end up on your to-best-test-driven list are the 2022 Toyota RAV4 and 2022 Ford Escape, and they sure do compete with one another.
The 2022 Toyota RAV4 offers strong off-roading capabilities, especially on the TRD Off-Road trim level. The controls are all easy to use, and you get an abundance of space in the cargo area as well as inside of the cabin. Speaking of the cabin, this interior is superbly quiet, and the ride quality only serves to enhance that sense of comfort.
Naturally, the RAV4 has its drawbacks. The steering system feels way too vague for the liking. Also, the engine offers some disappointing acceleration.
The 2022 Ford Escape offers a smooth ride quality coupled with comfy and spacious seating in both rows. The controls are easy for users to figure out right off the bat, and you can get around 40 miles per gallon from the available hybrid powertrain.
However, the Escape's transmission is besieged by startling, abrupt shifts between gears. Not to mention, the handling feels unrefined. The driving experience could definitely be better.
Which of these two small SUVs is going to best fit into your life? Does one offer a lot more value than the other? Which price tag best slides into your budget? Let's compare these two vehicles to find out, then you can make an informed decision.
A capable powertrain can make owning a small SUV a great experience. You won't need to spend a lot of time planning how you're going to merge onto or pass another vehicle on the highway. However, an under-powered powertrain can leave you in the dust - sometimes literally.
The 2022 Toyota RAV4 is solely powered by a standard four-cylinder engine that serves up 203 horsepower. An eight-speed automatic transmission is matched up to it. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard on most of the RAV4's trim levels while AWD is offered as an option on all save for the Adventure and the TRD Off-Road. On these two trim levels, AWD comes standard as an upgraded system that improves the vehicle's traction on slick and loose road surfaces.
The RAV4's engine is respectable enough while going town. Just don't be in a hurry to get anywhere, as you will feel the RAV4's meager power. This SUV needs 9.1 seconds to go from 0-60 mph. Also, the steering feels vague and lacks bulk. You might misjudge your inputs. At least the optional upgraded AWD gives you rear-axle torque vectoring and advanced traction control that includes hill descent control and selectable terrain settings. Coupled with its ground clearance, the RAV4 Adventure offers better-than-average off-roading for a small SUV.
The RAV4 gets an EPA estimated 28-30 mpg in combined driving, and real world tests place the AWD model at about 28.6 mpg. This shows that the estimates are accurate. There is a hybrid available if you want to go that route.
Powering the 2022 Ford Escape is a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine that generates 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque. Ford pairs this engine to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Titanium trim has a standard 2.5-liter hybrid powertrain (optional on the SE and SEL) that serves up 200 total system horsepower. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) sends power to the wheels. Want power? Grab the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder for its 250 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. It is available on the SEL and Titanium. FWD or AWD is available with the three-cylinder and hybrid powertrains; the turbo-four is AWD-only.
The turbocharged 2.0-liter engine delivers ample power, accelerating with ease from 0-60 mph in 6.9 seconds - a better showing than most competitors. However, the eight-speed automatic transmission is slow to shift; its upshifts and downshifts are jerky. Numerous small shocks can even be felt as you decelerate. Engine stop-start bucks the Escape around as you ease your foot off of the brake. Ford should have ironed these things out before putting the Escape onto the market, but, alas, they did not. Handling exhibits too much body roll and feels ponderous as you round through turns. The tires offer too-little grip. Steering, is light and requires minimal effort in the default drive mode. When you hop over to Sport mode, you get more more bulk.
The Escape equipped with a turbo 2.0-liter engine is rated for an EPA estimated 26 mpg combined. This is better than every other small SUV with an upgraded engine, but real-world tests show that the fuel economy falls short. You might be lucky to get 20 mpg combined.
Drivability is an overarching term that we use to describe how a vehicle works as a daily driver. How comfortable is a vehicle to ride around in? Is the ride quality comfortable and smooth enough without coming off as too drifty? Are the interior materials of reasonably high quality? Are the controls logically laid out? Are the tech features user-friendly How much cargo space is available, and how easy is it to use? These are some of the big-time factors we talk about when discussing drivability.
The 2022 Toyota RAV4's suspension provides a good balance between being plush and controlled. Bumps of all sizes get dispatched. The front seats are sculpted and padded well enough, but the seat bottoms might seem flat after a while of sitting. The passenger side lacks adjustment, which makes it hard to find a comfy position. The RAV4 quiet on the highway save for when you hit the gas for a quick burst, as the engine starts to sound rough. The climate system has decent air flow, and the forward vents can be fully shut.
Most of the RAV4's interior is solid, but the front passenger seat is set high and cannot be adjusted on any but the Limited. There is a nice range of adjustment on the driver's seat, but taller drivers might want more. The controls are laid out intuitively with massive labeling assigned. The climate control system and sound system are self-contained. Everything else is where you'd expect, and the climate control knobs are easy to use. The touchscreen is set a stretch away from the driver, and the tuning knob requires a real reach.
Tech is user-oriented, but despite being fairly new, the touchscreen has outdated-looking graphics. There's nothing remarkable about the sound system either. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and you will rely on them versus the clunky native Entune system.
The RAV4 has 37.5 cubic feet with the rear seats in place and 69.8 cubes when folded. The low cargo floor makes it easy to load up. Up front, the cabin has numerous shelves and bins to handle assorted road-trip paraphernalia. You can tow up to 3,500 pounds, which is great for this class.
The 2022 Ford Escape delivers on comfort, as the front seats are well sculpted and have ample cushioning. The rear seats are cozy and give enough thigh support for adult occupants. The SEL comes with basic controls for the front passenger, but the Titanium adds a power-adjustable seat - something that is hard to find in this class.
The Escape has a smooth and composed ride quality and remains quiet at higher rates of speed; road noise is the only real intrusive sound. The SEL comes with a single-zone climate control system, but most midgrade trims on other small SUVs come with dual-zone climate control systems. No Escape trim offers ventilated front seats and heated rear seats.
The Escape's cabin is laid out in logical fashion and has an overall pleasing aesthetic. The primary controls are well within reach, and the steering wheel buttons are extremely intuitive. The Sync 3 touchscreen's interface is quick to respond to inputs and requires very little effort to learn to use. From the driver's seat, outward visibility is clear with only the elevated beltline toward the rear causing minor obstruction. The seat gives the driver multiple adjustments for a quickly-found comfy position. If only the door armrests were a tad wider.
The Escape's use of space is magnanimous with plenty of space fore and aft. Headroom might be limited for very tall rear occupants if you get the panoramic sunroof, but there is knee-room in droves. There are some tall doorsills that you will have to overcome getting into the vehicle.
The Sync 3 infotainment system is a real gem. The integrated navigation system is easy to use, shows directional data when a point-of-interest (POI) search returns several locations, and it has some crisp graphics. As far as base sound systems go, the Escape's six-speaker setup is superb with plenty of punch from the bass. Smartphone integration is surprisingly the big let-down. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility isn't standard on all trims, and there aren't a lot of USB ports to plug into.
With an available 33.5 cubic feet of cargo space, the Escape offers an average amount of room. Its low cargo load floor and high seatbacks do give you more vertical storage space without cutting down on rear visibility. The rear seats, however, will not fold flat. Still, you can release the outboard seat belts from their holsters to prevent cargo loading from being obstructed.
Interior storage spaces include cavernous cubbyholes up front and huge door pockets in the rear. The cupholders have helpful anti-tip tabs, which are more commonly found in luxury vehicles. The LATCH car-seat anchors and tethers are easy to reach, and the amount of space in the back means you can easily load a bulky rear-facing child seat. Escapes powered by the turbo 2.0-liter engine can tow up to 3,500 pounds, besting all other small SUVs.
Safety is a huge concern for almost every driver. The demand for advanced driver aids is high, and automakers are certainly aware of this. Toyota and Ford know how to create functional driver aids and include many of them on their SUVs.
The 2022 Toyota RAV4 has its own bundle of advanced driver aids. You get a traffic sign reader, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, a lane keep system, and automatic high beams. The XLE has a blind-spot monitor, and a surround-view camera system remains optional.
Equipped on the 2022 Ford Escape is a bundle of driver aids that includes lane departure mitigation, a blind-spot monitor, and forward collision mitigation. Upgrading to the SE gives you the option of adding the Co-Pilot360 Assist+ package, which has adaptive cruise control, a lane keeping system , evasive steering assist, and built-in navigation. The SEL adds rear parking systems, while the Titanium has them for the front and rear and standardizes the Co-Pilot360 Assist+ package. Adding the Titanium Elite package nabs you a head-up display and automated parking system.
Which Has the Best Value?
As you go about making your final decision on which SUV to purchase, consider what brings the most value to a vehicle. Which vehicle has the most overall value? Buyers need to do their research and hear about owners' experiences since taking a vehicle for a test-drive can only tell you so much. Pay attention to reviews left by buyers and car gurus alike.
2022 Toyota RAV4 owners get a lot of chic, stylized interior materials with plenty of tactile design details. The available simulated leather upholstery is pliable and plush, featuring some nice stitching. Toyota has industry-average warranty coverage, but the two years/25,000 miles of free scheduled maintenance adds some value.
The 2022 Ford Escape bundles a ton of standard technology and driver aids into most of its trim levels. The front has a lot of soft-touch surfaces, and even the hard plastics have an appealing texture to them. The simulated leather upholstery might even trick you into thinking it is real leather. However, the paneling gaps are inconsistent and look kind of tacky. There are also some features that should be standard but are either optional or not even included at all. This takes away from the Escape's value, for sure.
Which is Better?
While there are plenty of things to like about the 2022 Ford Escape, its drawbacks are ones that detract from its inherent value. It is priced to compete, sure, but the 2022 Toyota RAV4 has the benefit of being a tough off-roader when properly outfitted. Even on the beaten path, the RAV4 puts in a well-rounded and powerful performance. While we would not exactly call it thrilling, the RAV4 has some athletic abilities that make it enjoyable enough. The interior looks about as refined as the ride performance feels, and you get some functional technology to keep you informed, entertained, and - most importantly - safe as you go about your day. Don't think the Escape is a slouch, though - it has a lot of curb appeal. Just not as much as the RAV4.
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