In yet another case of Chevy versus Ford, the Equinox and Escape duke it out to impress the same class of buyer: folks looking for SUV-like utility and car-like drivability in a reasonably efficient package.
The Chevrolet woos such buyers with its grown-up comfort and style, while the Ford impresses with technology and agility.
Which attempt at compact crossover perfection works better for us?
What's to Like About the Equinox
The Equinox is styled along the lines of larger models in the Chevrolet family, but its substantial appearance is more than just clever design. It's large for this class and weighs more than most competitors. The result is a smooth, hushed ride and solid feel that will remind you of more expensive vehicles, especially when it's equipped with the available 301-horsepower 3.6-liter V6. Even so, the base four-cylinder features active noise cancellation, so all examples cruise quietly.
The Chevy's wide stance produces commendable hip and shoulder room for all passengers. The rear seat can slide forward to increase cargo space, or back to provide more legroom. That feature alone could make buyers think twice about the need for a larger crossover.
What's to Like About the Escape
The current Escape started gaining praise from the moment it debuted in 2013. Along with expressive styling inside and out, the Ford boasts responsive handling and overall nimbleness that make it a very satisfying daily driver. High-quality materials are deployed throughout the cabin, and the sweeping dashboard is exceptionally attractive and functional. The Escape is one of the few compact crossovers to offer an automated parking system and a hands-free power tailgate.
Fuel economy is quite good with any of the three available four-cylinder engines. The top choice, a 240-horsepower 2-liter turbo, effectively replaces the need for a thirstier V6.
Luxury or Sport?
If we had to pick just one thing to like about each of these crossovers, we'd point to the Equinox's passenger-pleasing comfort and the Escape's energetic performance. Buyers should sample both virtues before deciding which is more important to them.
Our Verdict: Ford Escape
Refined and athletic, the Escape is a product of fresher thinking.