Shoppers flock to compact crossover SUVs like the 2020 Ford Escape and the 2019 Honda CR-V for good reason. They’re right-sized for daily commutes and long-distance getaways alike. They’re right-priced, too, and efficient and flexible. They’re outfitted with excellent safety and technology.
One’s better in the overall TCC rankings, though it’s not the one we consider more comfortable or useful.
We give the 2020 Escape a 6.6 out of 10, before any crash-test results enter the mix, while the 2019 CR-V checks in with a 6.2.
2019 Honda CR-V
2019 Honda CR-V
We start with style. The Escape slays, while the CR-V lays. Ford’s penned a bubbly shape with interesting nods to Tesla and Mazda hidden in its curves—though it’s turned down the tone inside, where the new Escape mutes its dash in black and trims its plain shapes in plenty of hard plastic. The CR-V’s not much different, to be honest, and the oddly tiered front end isn’t offset enough by the smoother side view and pert rear end.
Honda sells the 2019 CR-V in LX, EX, EX-L and Touring editions, with front- or all-wheel drive. The base engine in the CR-V LX is a pass for us. The 184-horsepower inline-4 is a pale substitute for Honda’s available 190-hp turbo-4, regardless of the continuously variable transmission(CVT) in all trims. The gutsier choice still doesn’t awaken too much passion in the CR-V’s predictably tuned suspension and steering. Ford’s base 181-hp turbo-3 sends us for the skip button, too, and its 250-hp turbo-4 pitches it into a less comfortable price; we’d opt for the gracious hybrid edition to complement the 2020 Escape’s thoroughly improved ride and handling setup. It’s more graceful and less punishing than the prior Escape and its hot-hatch tendencies, with less sizzle but more finesse. (For 2020, the CR-V adds a Hybrid edition of its own; stay tuned for more information and driving impressions on it.)
Honda outpoints the Escape for interior room and for seat comfort. Every one of the CR-V’s five seats greets adults warmly with support and space; we can’t say the same of the Escape’s short-bottomed chairs, though its rear-seat leg room excels thanks to a sliding bench. Honda wins in cargo room, too, with 75.8 cubic feet of space behind the front seats, to the Escape’s 65.4 cubic feet max. Honda’s interior materials upgrade the sometimes chintzy ones in the Escape, too, though neither looks overly lavish.
2020 Ford Escape
2020 Ford Escape
Ford scores for safety equipment by making automatic emergency braking standard, while Honda has still left it an option on base models for the 2019 model year. But the CR-V’s been given five stars for safety by the NHTSA and the IIHS calls it a Top Safety Pick, while the 2020 Escape awaits its own crash tests.
Neither the 2020 Escape S nor the CR-V LX will win awards for their base model’s standard features; both have a skimpy screen for infotainment and meh warranty coverage. The CR-V EX bundles in a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as well as a power driver’s seat, 18-inch wheels, a power moonroof, and all-wheel drive for less than $30,000. The $28,290 Escape SE has an 8.0-inch touchscreen and satellite radio and CarPlay/Android compatibility, as well as a power driver seat—but the winner’s the $29,450 SE Sport hybrid with its power tailgate, panoramic roof, navigation, and adaptive cruise control.
In the balance, the 2019 CR-V’s not particularly fun to drive or stylish, but it’s more spacious and has better seats than the Ford, not to mention the nodding approval of both safety agencies.
In its favor, the new Escape retains much of its performance charm, while it’s gained a highly efficient hybrid with a killer base price. Need space? Pick the Honda CR-V, with no regrets. Need more mpg? The 2020 Ford Escape’s the winner.