Ford Escape vs. Toyota RAV4

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Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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, Automotive Editor - July 9, 2014

The compact SUV segment saw some huge changes in two of its leading models in 2013: The Toyota RAV4 and the Ford Escape both underwent full makeovers to keep themselves fresh in the eyes of buyers.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Escape & RAV4 >>

Both models are staples in their class, but the RAV4 has always maintained a slight edge over the Escape in both age and innovation. With its recent overhaul, is the Escape capable of beating out the similarly-redesigned RAV4?

What the RAV4 Gets Right

First of all, the latest RAV4 model's body is quite the stunner; its sloping nose and swooping roofline make it an instant classic in the world of compact SUVs. The RAV4 also comes pretty well-equipped with 17-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, tinted glass, power everything and air conditioning among the laundry list of standard features.

The RAV4 comes in with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces a respectable 176 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. This is enough to sprint the model to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds and net it 24 mpg city and 29 mpg highway with front-wheel drive. You can opt for the more expensive RAV4 EV, which features a 115 kW electric motor with a 102-mile cruising range and a 0-to-60 mph time of 7.2 seconds.

What the Escape Gets Right

The Escape's styling is just as stunning as the RAV4's, though more on the sporty side of the spectrum. The Escape comes with all of the same standard features as its Toyota counterpart, but it adds in MyKey parental controls, so you can lend the car to the kids without worrying that they will speed or thrash the vehicle.

The Escape loses out in standard power, as its base four-cylinder only produces 168 horsepower, but it makes up for that in its optional engines. The next step up is a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine with 178 horsepower and up to 31 mpg on the highway. Topping off the range in the Titanium trim level is a 2-liter EcoBoost engine with 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. This boosted 2-liter is still capable of turning in an impressive 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway with front-wheel drive.

Close, but No Cigar

Toyota's modern RAV4 puts up a good fight, but Ford put way too much thought into covering all of its compact SUV bases. The RAV4 is not without its benefits though, as it still carries Toyota's vaunted reliability and an all-electric variant for those who are tired of burning expensive gasoline.

Verdict: Ford Escape

It's a no-brainer really: the Escape squeezes out a victory against its Japanese rival. At the base level, these two models are fairly even -- and the RAV4 may even have a slight edge. However, as you move through the trim levels and optional engines, it becomes clear that the Escape is simply a better all-around option.

Take a closer look at the Ford Escape >>

Take a closer look at the Toyota RAV4 >>

, Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Google+ | Website

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