Comparing the Ford Escape to the Kia Sportage might seem a bit like watching a bully mess with a weakling. Ford sells every Escape it can make, while the Sportage shuffles along near the bottom of the sales chart. Is the Escape simply that good, or does the Sportage deserve more attention than it gets?
What the Escape Gets Right
The current Escape started gaining praise from the moment it debuted. Along with expressive styling inside and out, the Escape 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.
Fuel economy is quite good with any of the three available four-cylinder engines. The top choice, a 240-horsepower
2-liter turbo, delivers a potent combo of power and efficiency.
What the Sportage Gets Right
The Sportage comes very well equipped from the start, and an impressive array of upscale feature are available. The standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine produces 182 horsepower and comes with a six-speed automatic transmission. The available turbocharged 2-liter provides a stout 260 horsepower for class-leading performance. Both engines can be paired with all-wheel drive, which we consider a bargain at $1,500.
The Sportage is one of the few vehicles in this class that prioritizes handling over ride comfort. Most buyers will still find the ride agreeable, if not plush.
Why Is the Escape More Popular?
The Sportage trails the Escape in cargo capacity by 15 cubic feet, enough to turn away many prospects. In addition, the Kia's tauter suspension is probably a bit too firm for this class.
Our Verdict: Ford Escape
The Sportage may be fun to drive, but the Escape provides exactly what American families want in a compact crossover.