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When you’re looking for a smart, capable, and fuel-efficient small SUV, it’s hard to beat the 2022 Ford Escape and the Ford Bronco Sport. Both can be outfitted with all-wheel drive, can tackle some rough roads, and hold more than 65 cubic feet of stuff. But, the similarly-priced, sized, and equipped Bronco Sport SUV has some advantages over the Escape that may make you want to think twice about the baby Bronco.

Consumer Reports recommends the Bronco Sport, not the 2022 Ford Escape

Three 2022 Ford Bronco Sports
Three 2022 Ford Bronco Sports | Ford

Consumer Reports likes a lot about the Escape, but not enough for the SUV recommendation. But, the magazine does recommend the Ford Bronco Sport and praised its roomy cabin and stable handling thanks to some suspension tweaks. All Bronco Sports and Escapes come with a 1.5-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder engine standard. In both SUVs, the three-cylinder is rated at 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque. Both SUVs weigh within about 25 pounds of each other with all-wheel drive.

Owners report to J.D. Power that the Bronco Sport has better reliability ratings, too

The 2022 Ford Escape doesn’t get the baby Bronco good looks

A 2023 Ford Bonco Sport Heritage Edition shows off its two-tone paint job.
2023 Ford Bronco Sport | Ford

When it first came out in late 2020 as a 2021 model, many people saw the Bronco badge on the front and thought it was the new Bronco. The big non-Sport Bronco is a different model that is much larger, designed to tackle tough off-road trails, and can be ordered with two or four doors. The Sport, however, was designed to be more of a city SUV with some off-road pretense, sort of a stylish all-arounder.

The Escape was redesigned for 2020 and it looks more anonymous than the Bronco Sport. But, there is a new 2023 Ford Escape on the way soon.

The Bronco Sport has all-wheel drive standard

All Bronco Sports come standard with rugged all-wheel drive. While it is less expensive in the base trim, the Escape’s all-wheel drive is a $1,500 option. The Bronco Sport also gets the G.O.A.T., or Goes Over Any Terrain, mode selector. Both SUVs also get standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Ford’s easy-to-use Sync 3 with an 8-inch touchscreen.

The Bronco Sport can be set up for off-roading

All Bronco sports have all-wheel drive standard and plenty of ground clearance for soft-roading. But step up to the top trim, the Badlands, and you get a full suite of off-road goodies. The Badlands comes with metal skid plates, all-terrain tires, selectable terrain modes, and an off-road suspension package. But most importantly, it comes with the 250-horsepower 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine and a different four-wheel-drive system that includes a rear differential lock.

But you pay more for the style and capability

A blue Ford Escape at the Shanghai Auto Show.
Ford Escape Titanium at | Greg Baker, AFP via Getty Images

The 2022 Ford Escape is less expensive. The base Escape S starts at $27,185, while the base Bronco Sport starts at $28,815, and they’re similarly equipped. The Ford Escape’s other trim levels include the SE at $28,520 and the SEL at $30,895. The top line Titanium brings leather, a hands-free liftgate, a 10-way power driver’s seat, and a lot more for the big step up to $37,305. A Hybrid version is a $1,655 option. A plug-in hybrid option is available, too, for $3,395.

The Bronco Sport starts at $28,815. The slightly upgraded Big Bend starts at $30,530, the Outer Banks adds remote start and leather-trimmed front seats for $34,450, and the Badlands starts at $36,590.


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