Ford Edge vs Escape: Which One Is Best?

Ford Edge vs Escape: Which One Is Best?

Over the past few decades, Ford has realigned its passenger car business around the SUV, replacing compact city cars and sedans like the Fiesta and Focus with larger, more capable alternatives. 

Yes, Ford loves SUVs, and it thinks it’s got a badge for every type of driver. But picking the right model for you? That’s a bit tricky. 

Take the Ford Edge and Ford Escape. On paper, these two cars have a lot in common, offering similar levels of on-road performance and amenities. But look closer and you’ll spot subtle little differences that, depending on your personal preferences, may make or break the experience for you. 

This article will break down what makes the Ford Edge and Ford Escape special. We’ll discuss the features and flaws, and try to understand their unique value propositions, with the aim to help you make a more informed choice when buying your next car. 

The Ford Edge

Introduced in 2006, the Ford Edge isn’t even old enough to drink, but has nonetheless proven fairly successful. This is, we note, Ford’s first midsize SUV for the US market. It aimed to occupy the middle-ground between full-size SUVs like the three-row Explorer, and more modest compact crossovers, like the Escape. 

In many respects, you can contrast the Ford Edge with the Honda Passport. It’s a midsize SUV, certainly, but it’s also one that’s avoided the temptation to cram in up to three rows of seats. More isn’t always better, especially when we’re looking at vehicles of the Edge’s dimensions. 

In its place, you get two rows of fairly spaced-out accommodations, plus some generous cargo space to boot. The current generation — which has a length of 188.1-inches — offers 39.2 cubic feet of cargo space. Fold the rear seats down, and you can almost double that to 73.4 cubic feet. And for those riding in the back, the Ford Edge doesn’t feel especially crowded, with 40.6-inches of leg room and 40.3-inches of head room. 

The vast majority of 2021 Edge trims come with a front-wheel-drive drivetrain by default, which is good news on the fuel efficiency front, but seriously limits its utility when it comes to off-roading and tackling more challenging terrain. The more performant ST trim, however, uses AWD by default, and cheaper variants come with the option to upgrade to AWD should you desire. 

In fairness, the Ford Edge is unambiguously aimed at families needing space, and doesn’t really have (or need) the same workhorse credentials as the other mid-size SUVs. And this is reflected in the engine configurations available, which start off as a 2L four-cylinder engine, and maxes out at a 3.5L V6 engine. Oh, and there’s a plug-in hybrid option, too. 

Inevitably, fuel efficiency is excellent. The base FWD four-cylinder model has an EPA rating of 24MPG. This dips to 21MPG, should you opt for the AWD V6 variant. By the standards of the category, that’s hard to fault. 

Interior comforts are in abundance, too. Borrowing a leaf from the early-model Tesla S, Ford includes a 12-inch infotainment display that sits in the centre of the console in portrait mode. Wireless (and wired) Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both present, but if you want to use GPS navigation without relying on your phone, you’ll have to pay extra. 

The Ford Edge also enjoys a sterling five-star safety rating, per the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA). This was achieved, in part, by its myriad of technology-driven safety features, including automated emergency braking and blind spot monitoring. For families looking for their next car, this makes the Edge a compelling choice. 

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The Ford Escape

By comparison, the Ford Escape has a much older pedigree. Introduced in 2000, this compact crossover represented a transformation in how Ford built and designed SUVs. 

Rather than repurposing existing truck-based designs, as was the norm at the time, Ford instead opted to repurpose the already-existing Mazda GF platform, which had been used on smaller and more fuel-efficient hatchback and sedan cars. 

Ford targeted the Escape at families looking for the next step up from those who already owned vehicles like the Ford Escort, but didn’t necessarily want a truck, per se. This was reflected in the configuration, with the base trims touting a FWD drivetrain and a 2L four-cylinder engine, and capping out at a 3L V6 engine. 

The Escape would also become a testbed of sorts for Ford, and in 2005 became the world’s first hybrid SUV. This drastically reduced its fuel consumption in city driving, with the FWD configuration achieving an almost unthinkable (at least, for the time) 30MPG on city roads. 

Since then, the Escape has undergone three generational changes, with the most recent occurring for the 2020 model year. It’s worth noting that Ford hasn’t strayed far from the original vision. 

It’s still practical, with a 180.5-inch length and generous levels of cargo space. It offers 37.5 cubic feet of room, or 65.4 cubic feet with the rear seats flattened. Rear-row personal space is competitive with the much larger Edge, with 40.7 inches of legroom and 39.3 inches of head room. 

And it still has no aspirations of sports-like performance, and no desire to tackle undulating off-road terrain. At the base level, you’ve got a 1.5L three-cylinder engine. While that seems like a downgrade compared to the previous version, it’s worth remembering that car construction technologies have improved dramatically over the past two decades. 

Its lighter frame, paired with an improved eight-speed automatic transmission (the first model year had just four gears), means you won’t take much of a hit to acceleration speeds. You’ll also enjoy the benefit of improved fuel efficiency, and the basic FWD model achieves an impressive 30MPG combined EPA rating. 

If you absolutely must have more engine power, Ford lets you opt for a 2L four-cylinder flavour on the four-wheel drive models. There are also hybrid and plug-in hybrid options, which enjoy combined EPA ratings of 41MPG and 105MPG respectively. 

The Escape shares many of the interior and safety features of the Edge, although there are some key differences worth noting. Its infotainment system has a more conventional landscape orientation, rather than the Tesla-inspired homage of the Edge. 

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The Ford Escape vs the Ford Edge

First, the price. The Edge has an MSRP of $31,100 for the base trim. This climbs to $43,265 for the high-end ST trim. By comparison, the smaller Escape is vastly cheaper, with a base MSRP of $24,885 for the entry-level flavour and $36,500 for the hybrid model. 

The Edge enjoys a significant advantage when it comes to cargo space, although both vehicles are neck-and-neck when it comes to personal space and interior comfort. However, the Escape has a serious head start when it comes to fuel efficiency, meaning it’ll be less expensive to run. This comes at the expense of performance, however. 

Ultimately, picking between the Edge and Escape comes down to your personal needs. Do you want a car that’s cheaper to run, or do you want something that’s bigger and more powerful? Those in urban areas will likely find the Escape more compelling, although I can imagine rural buyers having to spend more time contemplating their options. 

When you’ve made your mind up, start your buying journey at Shift. With fair, no-haggle prices and no dealerships to visit, we make the whole process incredibly straightforward. We’ll even handle the paperwork, saving you a trip to the DMV. 

All vehicles are tested to a rigorous 150-point checklist by one of our trusted mechanics and come with a free seven-day returns policy. And when buying from our Shift Certified inventory, you get a free 30-day warranty. To start your search, click here.

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Shift Editorial Team