Skip to main content

Are you shopping around for a compact SUV but aren’t sure which model to buy? Two of the most popular models available are the 2021 Toyota RAV4 and the 2021 Ford Escape. Both the Japanese and American models are full of useful features and are as reliable as they come. However, in many ways, the Toyota RAV4 pummels the Ford Escape, according to a comparison by U.S. News & World Report.

2021 Toyota RAV4 vs. Ford Escape

Two 2021 Toyota RAV4 compact SUV models drive on a road, they crush the Ford Escape, according to U.S. News.
2021 Toyota RAV4 | Toyota

U.S News evaluated several vital areas for its comparison between these two titans of the compact SUV segment: technology, safety, comfort, spaciousness, and overall capability. The 2021 Toyota RAV4 is advantageous in almost every category.

Toyota RAV4 vs. Ford Escape: technology

A blue 2021 Ford Escape parked indoors, it loses to the RAV4 in a lot of ways, according to U.S. News.
2021 Ford Escape | Ford

Firstly, the standard technology for the base model Ford Escape is quite basic. It comes with a 4.2-inch infotainment system with very few things to control. More features require higher trim levels, which isn’t true for the RAV4. Even simple, highly desirable features like smartphone connectivity are only available on the more expensive Escape trims.

On the other hand, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 comes with a 7-inch touchscreen. Additionally, the Japanese compact SUV comes standard with a Wi-Fi hotspot and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Most importantly, U.S. News noted that the expensive Ford SYNC 3 available infotainment system is one of the best on the market. It upgrades the system to an 8-inch touchscreen that’s colorful, responsive, and easy to use.

RAV 4 vs. Escape: cargo space and towing capacity

A gray 2021 Toyota RAV4 parked on dirt ground, it crushes the Ford Escape in most ways, according to U.S. News.
2021 Toyota RAV4 | Toyota

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 provides more cargo space than its competition with all the seats up. The RAV4 has 37.5-37.6 cubic feet of space depending on how the sliding second-row seats are arranged. In the same vein, the Ford Escape has from 33.5 to 37.5 cubic feet. When second rows are folded down in each compact SUV, the RAV4 upstages the Escape again with 69.8 cubic feet to 65.4.

As for towing capacity, the two compact SUVs are equal. As reported by U.S. News, both options bolster a 3,500-pound limit when properly equipped. While neither will beat out the pickup trucks in their respective lineups, both are respectable for a small SUV.

RAV4 vs. Escape: fuel economy

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 wins in terms of gas-only engine fuel economy between the two vehicles. However, both the Escape and RAV4 offer hybrid powertrains to improve their numbers. With front-wheel drive, the RAV4 gets 28 city and 35 highway mpg. Contrarily, the Escape returns the same 28 city mpg but pales in comparison on the highway, with just 34 mpg.

Both options have excellent fuel economy for the compact SUV class. A single mpg difference isn’t much, so don’t let the RAV4 having better numbers deter you from the Ford Escape. If gas mileage is of high importance to you, both models offer hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants.

RAV4 vs. Escape: predicted reliability according to Consumer Reports

A blue 2021 Ford Escape drives along a dirt road, it's an affordable compact SUV.
2021 Ford Escape | Ford

According to Consumer Reports, the Ford and Toyota option are reliable, compact SUVs. However, one did score lower than the other. The 2021 Toyota RAV4 has a 4 out of 5 predicted reliability rating for the 2021 model year. Although it doesn’t have any excessive issues in recent years, it has had fuel system and braking problems in the past. Overall, the RAV4 is a reliable vehicle, and most past problems seem to have improved over the years.

Contrarily, the 2021 Ford Escape scored just slightly higher, with a perfect 5 out of 5. Based on previous model years, the Escape has historically been more troublesome than the RAV4. However, for 2020 and 2021, it was redesigned and proved to be significantly better in its first year. Subsequently, past problems areas include power equipment, electronics, and the drive system.

RAV4 vs. Escape: price


The Most Popular 2021 Toyota RAV4 Trim Isn’t Exactly the Best

The starting price winner goes to the Ford Escape for the two compact SUVs. It starts at just $25,555 for the base model, compared to the RAV4’s starting price of just over $26,000. Fortunately, the price difference isn’t very much, and it won’t make a noticeable impact on a monthly payment regardless of which compact SUV you choose.

Toyota RAV4 LE$27,565
Toyota RAV4 XLE$28,860
Toyota RAV4 XLE Premium$31,565
Toyota RAV4 Adventure$34,670
Toyota RAV4 Limited$36,095
Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road$37,295
Ford Escape S$26,800
Ford Escape SE$28,280
Ford Escape SEL$30,750
Ford Escape Titanium$37,300
Prices are after destination and handling fees have been applied, from Car and Driver.

Plug-in hybrid and hybrid models are within the same price range, so fear not. None of the Escape or RAV4 models are particularly expensive. That’s why they’re two of the most popular compact SUV models on the market.

2021 Toyota RAV4 vs. Ford Escape: The RAV4 crushes the competition

In conclusion, it doesn’t matter which compact SUV you choose; both of these models are excellent options. The 2022 Toyota RAV4 handles the competition with its better standard technology, cargo space, and fuel economy. However, according to CR, the Ford Escape isn’t far behind in any category, is more affordable, and is more reliable. Moreover, the RAV4 pummels the Escape in most ways, according to U.S. News & World Report.