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The Ford Escape and the Toyota RAV4 are solid choices for the compact crossover SUV segment. Both vehicles have some good attributes. However, the 2023 Ford Escape has one big advantage over the 2023 Toyota RAV4: a new design.

2023 Ford Escape has a new design — but the Toyota RAV4 hasn’t been redesigned in 5 years

Red 2023 Ford Escape crossover SUV driving on curvy road
2023 Ford Escape | Ford

In the fiercely competitive compact crossover SUV segment, automakers give their models new designs and upgrades to “get a leg up” on rivals. Other vehicles in the segment have had significant overhauls for the 2023 model year, such as the Honda CR-V and Kia Sportage. Now the 2023 Ford Escape follows suit with an attractive new design.

Conversely, the 2023 Toyota RAV4 has rested on its laurels. Toyota hasn’t given the RAV4 a redesign in five years. For those that desire a newer and fresher look for a vehicle, the Escape is the way to go.

The Escape has sleek new exterior styling, especially for the front end. The grille is wider, with a more prominent Ford blue Oval emblem. Other exterior design changes include a new hood and bumpers. The crossover SUV has stylish new wheel designs as well. 

Unlike the 2023 RAV4, the 2023 Escape has sporty models with the new ST-Line trims

Rear angle view of blue 2023 Toyota RAV4 crossover SUV
2023 Toyota RAV4 | Toyota

Another pleasing aspect of the 2023 Ford Escape is the sporty new ST-Line models. There are three variants: the ST-Line, ST-Line Select, and ST-Line Elite. With their sporty design features, the ST-Line trims stand out from the crowd. This includes a large single-wing rear spoiler, distinctive black mesh grilles, and a unique rear skid plate. 

Plus, all of the exterior surfaces of the ST-Line trims are monochromatically painted — which adds an element of refinement. The most premium of the three models is the ST-Line Elite, which features an LED light bar that connects the two headlights. 

Conversely, in the American market, the 2023 Toyota RAV4 doesn’t offer any trims that match the sportiness of the ST-Line models. While Toyota recently introduced a sporty GR RAV4 model for the European market, it’s not available in the United States. 

Other strengths of the Ford Escape over the Toyota RAV4

The 2023 Escape has some other strengths over the 2023 RAV4. This includes more passenger space. It has a total passenger volume of 103 cu-ft, while the RAV4 has 98.9 cu-ft. There’s also more legroom in the Escape. It provides 42.4 inches for the front seats and 38.9 inches for the rear seats — compared to 41.0/37.8 inches for the RAV4.

Also, with the new design, the Escape is more technologically sophisticated than the RAV4. This is exemplified by the upgrade to the new SYNC 4 infotainment system, which has over-the-air updates, Enhanced Voice Recognition, Connected Built-in Navigation, and Amazon Alexa Built-In. Additionally, there’s a larger 13.2-inch touchscreen that’s available for the infotainment system. Conversely, the largest available screen that the RAV4 offers is 10.5 inches.

The new design, and all the upgrades that come with it, give the 2023 Ford Escape a big advantage over the 2023 Toyota RAV4. While the new design doesn’t mean that the Escape is a better overall model, it’s a factor to consider for crossover SUV shoppers.


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