Skip to main content

The 2023 Ford Escape is a formidable competitor to other small SUVs like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. The Escape can do everything its rivals do, like carry five passengers comfortably, haul a lot of cargo, and tow up to 3,500 pounds. But there’s one key area where it excels more than the rest.

I have driven the 2023 Ford Escape ST-Line and the Honda CR-V this year, and while both provide a similar driving feel, the Escape beats out the CR-V when it’s on the road.

The 2023 Ford Escape ST-Line offers a surprising driving experience

A front corner view of the 2023 Ford Escape
2023 Ford Escape | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

As car reviewers, we talk a lot about driving performance, especially when it comes to the sporty cars we get to drive. However, not much is said about small SUVs with surprisingly fun driving dynamics. That said, the Ford Escape ST-line is more fun to drive than the Honda CR-V.

Of course, I realize that most buyers might not care about driving fun when buying a crossover. However, it’s worth pointing out that the 250-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter engine in the Escape ST-line provides plenty of power off the line and feels zippy on canyon roads. Someone out there has to care.

In contrast, the 2023 Honda CR-V I tested this year felt comfortable and confident on the road. It was a hybrid, so I wasn’t expecting it to blow my socks off, but the dual-motor system did provide plenty of power when accelerating and passing slower cars.

It just doesn’t compare to the athleticism of the Ford Escape, which, again, is surprising considering it’s not meant to be fun to drive.

The Ford Escape’s performance numbers don’t lie

A front view of the 2023 Honda CR-V
2023 Honda CR-V | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

It turns out that the 2023 Ford Escape is quicker than most would think. The editors at Car and Driver have done instrumented testing on both the Escape with the 2.0-liter engine and the Honda CR-V Hybrid. The results back up my impressions.

The Ford Escape can get to 60 mph in only 5.7 seconds, which is quicker than a lot of sport sedans in the market. It’s also much quicker than the Honda CR-V Sport Touring they tested, which took 7.9 seconds to cover the same distance.

Two seconds might not sound like a lot, but in terms of acceleration performance, it’s a huge difference. Again, most SUV buyers may not even care, but for those who do, it’s safe to say the Escape is far more fun to drive.

Does the Ford Escape handle well?

In addition to dialing in a lot of straight-line speed, Ford also tuned the Escape ST-line’s suspension to handle well in various situations. I drove the car on a dirt trail, and it handled the uneven terrain well despite having 19-inch wheels and tires on. I could hear noises as the tires drove over rocks and divots, but the ride still felt smooth.

On regular roads, the Escape feels well composed, but its sport suspension feels a little stiff when going over some irregularities. However, it works well when throwing the car in tight corners. I test every car on the same canyon road and noticed that the Escape cut through the turns a lot quicker than the CR-V did.

Ultimately, the Ford Escape is fun to drive and if you’re looking for a crossover that won’t bore you when commuting every day. Driving fun may not be high on the list for many SUV buyers, but for those who think it’s important, the Ford Escape performs better than the CR-V.