Which Is Better, the Ford Escape or the Mazda CX-5?

There are many celebrated models in the 2020 midsize SUV class. But for the sportiest driving dynamics, the 2020 Mazda CX-5  and the 2020  Ford Escape are among your best options. Both the CX-5 and the Escape boast style and versatility, but which one is better for you?

What the 2020 Mazda CX-5 is agile and luxurious 

The side view of a red 2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD on a rainy city street
2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD side | Matthew Skwarczek

Mazda’s CX-5 shines bright for being both practical and upscale. This SUV offers three different engine options. And no matter which one you choose, you’re bound for an enjoyable time on the road. 

The base CX-5 is fun-to-drive and packed with active safety features. Base models are powered by a 187-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine linked to a polished six-speed automatic transmission. The standard engine offers plenty of power, and it’s pretty quick too. 

For those who crave the most power the CX-5 provides, there’s the turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 227-hp with regular gas; 250-hp with premium gas. The other available choice you have is a 168-hp, 2.2. liter turbocharged diesel engine. Each variant offers a sharp driving experience comparable to an actual luxury SUV like the BMW X1.

2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature interior
2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature interior | Mazda

On top of its upscale performance, the CX-5 also provides a luxury-inspired interior. The CX-5’s interior is one of the grandest in its class. Cloth upholstery is the standard, but you can upgrade with faux leather or genuine leather seats.

You’ll also appreciate the CX-5 for its long list of active safety features, including adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring. The 2020 model comes with a decent 7-inch touchscreen display. However, you have to upgrade for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

The 2020 Ford Escape is sporty and tech-savvy 

Red 2020 Ford Escape riding around town.
2020 Ford Escape | Ford

Ford’s Escape isn’t as refined as the CX-5. That said, the Escape is still a worthy choice for its responsiveness. This Ford comes with a 180-hp, turbocharged EcoBoost three-cylinder. Reviews on this engine are mixed, as U.S. News notes. Some critics feel like the base model feels underpowered at times. Others think that the standard Escape is capable and moves briskly. 

The Escape has a more potent option available, and that’s a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 250-hp. This powerplant makes the Escape a livelier ride and more fun compared to rivals like the Toyota RAV4. Both engines are linked to an eight-speed automatic, but it’s not as polished as others in the class. However, what makes the Escape a more dynamic vehicle is that it’s also available as a plug-in hybrid

The 2020 Ford Escape Titanium trim with ambient lighting.
2020 Ford Escape Titanium interior | Ford

Does the 2020 Ford Escape Look Too Much Like a Car?

In addition to its smooth ride quality, the Escape also earns points for its spacious interior. Like the CX-5, the Escape comes with cloth seats, faux leather or genuine leather upholstery as options. However, critics like U.S. News take points away because of its hard plastic finishings. On a brighter note, the Escape’s seats are comfortable, and even the back row is pleasant to ride in. 

When it comes to standard infotainment, the Escape is pretty simple. It comes with a few items, including a 4.2-inch display and Bluetooth. There are many available features, such as an 8-inch touchscreen, a wifi hotspot, and navigation. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available too. Like the CX-5, the Escape is standard with modern safety equipment, including pedestrian detection and lane keep assist. 

So which is better?

The 2020 Escape starts at $24,885, and the 2020 CX-5 begins at $25,190. Both offer fun-to-drive dynamics, but the CX-5 is more polished inside and out. The Escape does most things well, but it’s cheaper interior finishings hold it back in class rankings.