Small SUVs are consistently pretty good. Picking between a Toyota Rav 4 or a Honda CRV seems like six in one hand, a half dozen in the other. This segment is hard to find any flaws with. These SUVs can still use efficient little four-cylinder because of the size, but they are still big enough to fit people and luggage. They are unstoppable. Although the segment is full of killers, it also has some stinkers. Consumer Reports tested both the 2021 Ford Escape and the 2021 Mazda CX-5, and it wasn’t even kind of close.
The 2021 Mazda CX-5 is miles ahead of the 2021 Ford Escape
I hate to say it, but this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. This is not really Ford’s forte, and it just so happens to be right in Mazda’s sweet spot. Consumer Reports gave the Mazda CX-5 an overall score of 83/100, and the Ford Escape an abysmal 46/100.
Consumer Reports really didn’t like 2021 Ford Escape
As a matter of fact, the Ford Escape was the lowest-ranked in its class. CR hits it hard right off the jump. One of the first things listed is a one out of five rating for predicted reliability. This is a death sentence for any vehicle as far as CR ratings are concerned.
The more tactile grievances are troubling, too. The interior looks inviting at first, but the more time spent inside reveals the true cheapness of the panels, trim, and steering wheel. The problem continues to the powertrain.
The 1.5-liter three-cylinder gives decent power for the segment. It can run 0-60 mph around 9 seconds, which is slow, but this is a slow class. However, according to CR, the engine does give off an unsettling rattle around the 1500 rpm mark. Luckily there is a 2.0-liter and hybrid versions that are much better across the board.
How does the Ford Escape handle?
Surprisingly, handling appears to be light and agile. CR even calls the Escape fun to drive on curvy roads. The ride, however, is a different story. CR says the ride is stiff and tense. The driver fully feels any imperfections in the road. The ride is also noisy. With the 1.5-liter, the rattle is an added racket to the wind and road noise.
Overall the lack of reliability, discomfort, and cheap feeling materials makes the 2021 Ford Escape is more of what you should do when inside of one.
The Mazda CX-5 comes highly recommended
The Mazda has it all; sporty handling, a strong and reliable motor, and a pride-inducing interior. The standard powertrain is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 187 hp paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. According to CR, the pairing isn’t fast by any means, but it is easy to drive and practical.
The cabin is quiet and comes along with a smooth and pleasant ride. In fact, CR says the CX-5 has the quietest cabin in any car outside of the luxury segment. Aside from the quiet ride, the cabin is loaded with soft touch points, detailed design cues, and a fresh aesthetic.
Honestly, I kind of feel bad comparing the two crossovers. They really aren’t even close. The Mazda CX-5 is one of the best cars of its kind ever made. It’s reliable, sporty (ish), good looking, and comfortable; nearly everything that the Ford Escape isn’t.