2021 Mazda CX-5 vs. 2021 Ford Escape: Which Compact SUV Is Better?

The compact SUV segment is rife with options. Among those options are popular models like the 2021 Mazda CX-5 and the 2021 Ford Escape. But of these two compact SUVs, which makes for the better choice? 

2021 Mazda CX-5 vs. 2021 Ford Escape: Driving experience

RELATED: The 2021 Mazda CX-5 Is 1 of the Quietest SUVs You Can Buy

When it comes to what’s under the hood, the 2021 Mazda CX-5 offers two options: a 186-hp 2.5-liter engine or a 227-hp 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. Both engines come paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift and Sport mode. 

According to the EPA, with its base 2.5-liter engine under the hood, the CX-5 delivers an EPA-estimated 25 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Opt for its available turbocharged engine, and those numbers shift to an EPA-estimated 23 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

As for what it’s like to drive the 2021 Mazda CX-5? Consumer Reports gave it a 78 overall score in its road tests. Meanwhile, Car and Driver reports that the CX-5 often feels faster than it is, but it can feel underpowered on highways when equipped with its base engine. The good news is its turbocharged engine offers better acceleration.

RELATED: Do Consumer Reports’ 5 Most Fuel-Efficient Small SUVs Match Their EPA Ratings?

The 2021 Ford Escape, on the other hand, offers multiple engine choices, including a 181-hp 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine and a 250-hp 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine. To better compete with compact SUVs like the Honda CR-V Hybrid and Toyota RAV4 Prime, this year’s Escape is also available as a hybrid and plug-in model. 

Much like the 2021 Mazda CX-5, the Ford Escape is a fuel-efficient compact SUV. In fact, the EPA reports that with its base engine under the hood, the 2021 Ford Escape delivers an EPA-estimated 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.

And when it comes to driving the 2021 Ford Escape? Consumer Reports gave it a 73 overall score in road tests. Car and Driver added that the Escape is a decent option, but compact SUVs like the 2021 Mazda CX-5 are more enjoyable to drive.

2021 Mazda CX-5 vs. 2021 Ford Escape: Safety features

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Concerned with safety features? The good news is that both of these compact SUVs come stocked with all of the safety features you need to take the wheel with absolute confidence.

In fact, the 2021 Mazda CX-5 is standard with sought-after safety features like blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and Mazda radar cruise control with stop & go.

The CX-5 is also standard with advanced smart city brake support with pedestrian detection, smart brake support with collision warning, and a lane departure warning system with lane-keep assist. The IIHS tapped the CX-5 as a Top Safety Pick+ for the 2021 model year too.

The 2021 Ford Escape, on the other hand, is standard with safety features like forward-collision warning with automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts. The IIHS also recognized the Ford Escape as a Top Safety Pick for the 2021 model year.

2021 Mazda CX-5 vs. 2021 Ford Escape: Interior amenities

The interior of the 2021 Mazda CX-5.
2021 Mazda CX-5 interior. | Mazda

RELATED: What Features Does the Basic 2021 Mazda CX-5 Offer?

Now, let’s talk interior amenities. As it turns out, both compact SUVs have a slew of popular interior features to offer. Take, for example, the 2021 Mazda CX-5. While this year’s model is standard with a slew of features, it’s also available with heated front and rear seats, a moonroof, navigation, and a Bose premium audio system.

2021 Ford Escape Stealth interior
2021 Ford Escape Stealth interior. | Ford

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Meanwhile, the 2021 Ford Escape offers up interior amenities such as a premium Bang & Olufsen sound system, wireless device charging, and a 4G LTE in-vehicle Wi-Fi hotspot. The Escape is also available with Ford+Alexa.

2021 Mazda CX-5 vs. 2021 Ford Escape: Price

For budget-conscious shoppers, both the 2021 Mazda CX-5 and the 2021 Ford Escape make for good options. While the Mazda CX-5 boasts a base price of $25,370, the Escape will have you spending approximately $24,885 on a base model. Both compact SUVs are also available in a slew of different trim levels, most of which will have you spending between $30,000 and $40,000.

It’s important to consider ownership costs too. RepairPal reports the average annual repair cost for the Mazda CX-5 is $447, meaning it has excellent ownership costs. The severity of repairs is low too. On the other hand, the Ford Escape has an average annual repair cost of $600, which is about average. The severity of repairs is average too.

A red 2021 Ford Escape, a compact SUV that's often compared to the 2021 Mazda CX-5
2021 Ford Escape | Ford

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Is the Mazda CX-5 better than the Ford Escape?

In the end, it all comes down to personal preference. Both compact SUVs are affordable, safe, and available with a long list of features. To determine which is the best option for you, we recommend getting behind the wheel for a test drive.