What kind of crossover is the 2021 Ford Escape? What does it compare to?

Ford’s small crossover question for 2021 is the same as peanut butter: Smooth or chunky?

The 2021 Ford Escape is the smoother, spreadable side of that answer. The Escape competes against an army of smooth small crossover SUVs such as the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, and Chevy Equinox. Want chunky? Head over to the related Bronco Sport that prioritizes off-road performance.

Is the 2021 Ford Escape a good SUV?

It’s 7.0 TCC Rating indicates that it’s very good for a new car that costs about $30,000 in our recommended SE or SE Sport trim. Among the highlights: a perfect safety score and exceptional value in lower trims.

What’s new for the 2021 Ford Escape?

The Escape takes a year off after its initial splash last year. A hybrid powertrain is now available on more trims and a plug-in hybrid launched late last year returns again this year.

The 2021 Escape is available in S, SE, SE Sport, SEL, and Titanium trim levels.

Under the hood is a smorgasbord of powertrain possibilities, beginning with a small 180-horsepower turbo-3 that pairs to an 8-speed automatic transmission. It drives the front wheels as standard but can shuttle power toward the rears for all-weather traction.

A meatier 250-hp turbo-4 is on the menu that powers all four wheels via the same 8-speed automatic. Its performance metric is measured more in confidence: there’s more passing speed and more power to tap for mountain-state buyers.

A 2.5-liter inline-4 pairs to a small battery in Escape Hybrid models and drives the front or all four wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). It returns up to 41 mpg combined, according to the EPA, and in the Escape SE Sport, it becomes a stone-cold steal for crossover shoppers looking for efficiency who don’t want to wear green on their sleeves.

The Escape Plug-in Hybrid pairs the same 2.5-liter inline-4 with a much bigger 14.4-kwh lithium-ion battery that can power the crossover on electricity alone for up to 37 miles. It’s rated the same as the hybrid, about 41 mpg combined, but only drives the front wheels via the CVT. It’s available on more trim levels this year and eligible for a federal tax credit or local incentives, where applicable.

Every Escape is comfortable and easy to drive, and equipped with automatic emergency braking and active lane control along with a stellar crash-test scorecard.

How much does the 2021 Ford Escape cost?

Base versions cost about $26,000 and are roomy—but also leave plenty of room for improvement. We’d opt for an SE or SE Sport at close to $30,000 for the best value. The Escape Titanium clocks in close to $40,000, where its value falls down.