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In the world of compact SUVs, arguably the most popular auto body style for modern American drivers, there's no absence of competition. Just about every auto brand offers at least one new compact SUV, so which one is right for you? For the most part, choosing the right vehicle depends on your budget, lifestyle, and which features appeal to you most. However, some compact SUVs seem to do it all - and at a low price, too. Just compare 2021 Chevy Equinox vs the 2021 Ford Escape.
These compact SUVs from two of America's most popular automobile brands offer balanced features at a low entry fee. Outdoorsy explorers, families with pets, and busy city commuters alike can find much to love in either vehicle. However, one outdoes the other in nearly every category. From performance and technology to comfort features and interior design, the 2021 Chevy Equinox is a clear winner in this battle. Even better, you will actually be paying less for the superior vehicle.
An athletic performer with the potential for superior engine performance, the 2021 Chevy Equinox - known by its devoted fans as "The Nox" - comes with an efficient but capable turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This 1.5L option has an outstanding fuel economy rating at 26 MPG city, 31 MPG highway. That balance of performance and efficiency is part of the reason why the Equinox has long been Chevy’s best-selling SUV.
Handling is comfortable and relaxing, especially with the optional all-wheel drive, which provides superior traction in slippery or uneven terrain. This feature is available on the superior LS, LT, and Premier models. All-wheel-drive is on-demand and switchable when installed, meaning that you can activate or deactivate it at any time for the most comfortable, economical drive. However, it will also kick in automatically when additional traction is required.
As for the 2021 Ford Escape, the base model comes with an unusually flimsy three-cylinder engine. It's actually hard to believe that the manufacturer of potent vehicles like the F-150 lineup would install a three-cylinder in one of their SUVs. While it does provide fuel economy ratings of up to 28 MPG city and 34 MPG highway, that small increase over the four-cylinder in the Equinox is a questionable trade-off for such a small engine.
Further, many drivers have complained of a slightly jarring performance that's rough and uneasy. Even upgrading to all-wheel drive may not alleviate these concerns - and adding all-wheel drive to the Escape brings the fuel economy down to almost the same numbers as the all-wheel drive Equinox. If you're searching for a good performance SUV, the Ford Escape is the wrong place to be looking.
Small SUVs like the 2021 Equinox and Escape may look compact on the outside, but their interiors conceal a surprisingly ample cabin. Start with the new Chevy Equinox, which has a handsome interior that's sleek and contemporary with its styling. Cupholders galore and a spacious center console bin are certainly convenient, as is the plentiful legroom for all passengers. This vehicle can easily seat five adults and have room to spare for cargo.
The new Equinox offers up to 63.9 cubic feet of interior storage space, which is more than enough for the average driver. You can stow your work supplies, load up suitcases for a road trip with the family, and run errands with ease. Take advantage of folding seats to fit large items or stash small items in the innovative hidden compartments under the rear cargo floor. For even better loading and unloading, add the available hands-free power liftgate that quickly responds to your movements. Optional cargo organizer panels, meanwhile, act as sturdy dividers to protect delicate cargo.
While even the base model has an attractive interior, affordable upgrades unlock some of the best cabin designs in the SUV game. For example, the Midnight Edition of the Equinox adds Jet Black leather-appointed seats and surfaces, while available all-weather floor mats and stylish seat covers add durability for adventurous drivers who want to take on the outdoors. Customizable two-tone interiors look luxury-level and attractively draw the eye to the front console and comfortable front seats.
The 2021 Escape, meanwhile, has a cabin that looks far too simplistic, offering an almost discount experience. Clunky plastics and flat surfaces look outdated, while the center console's control panels and infotainment device appear almost clumsy. If you choose to pay for upgrades, you can get faux-leather or genuine leather upholstery in the higher trims, including the top Titanium model, but there's no option to redesign the interior for a more contemporary appeal. Sadly, changing the upholstery doesn't make the unsupportive driver's seat feel more comfortable for long.
However, the 2021 Escape does feel roomy enough for five passengers to sit comfortably. Believe it or not, the Escape and Equinox are just about neck-and-neck when it comes to storage and seating capacity, with the Equinox maintaining a slight advantage in storage features. However, when everything else is equal, the more elegant offerings in the Equinox's refined cabin are a no-brainer tie-breaker.
Compact SUVs have some of the world's best automotive technology, given their aim to convert van and sedan drivers alike with features that balance the best of both. To that end, both the 2021 Chevy Equinox and 2021 Ford Escape are outfitted with plenty of safety and convenience technology. Start by taking a look at the infotainment devices built into each compact SUV.
The 2021 Equinox comes standard with a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment device at the top of the center dashboard, which is your gateway to the Chevrolet MyLink interface. Easy to use, fast, and compatible with all major smartphones, the infotainment device provides plenty of entertainment for long drives - whether you're on the open road alone, transporting the whole family, or sharing a drive with a special passenger. Connect and stream audio via Bluetooth, an auxiliary input jack, or by selecting audio apps built right into the device. Best of all, fast and convenient Wi-Fi access is completely standard with no trim upgrade necessary.
You can even interact with your infotainment system through voice command, all thanks to Amazon Alexa. Sync with other Alexa-compatible devices like a smart home system, add to your Amazon shopping list, and interact with apps without taking your eyes off of the road. You don't just get your favorite audio like music, audiobooks, and podcasts in the MyLink system, either. You also have access to convenience features like real-time navigation and traffic alerts. Upgrade to the Premier edition for a crisp, Bose audio system, 8-inch HD screen, superior memory storage, and more.
The 2021 Ford Escape also has its comparable infotainment device, but for some reason, it's not standard on the base model. While some auto brands like Chevy fill their vehicles with modern features, when it comes to Ford, you will have to pay extra to get more than an outdated radio display. However, should you choose to upgrade to a higher trim, the standard 4.2-inch display will be replaced with an 8-inch SYNC 3 infotainment system that's smartphone compatible.
When fully optioned, the 2021 Chevy Equinox and 2021 Ford Escape are fairly comparable. However, when it comes to comparing the base models, the technology available in the Equinox is clearly superior. This allows you to enjoy all the modern features that you desire without paying a premium price tag.
As for safety features, the 2021 Equinox comes standard with Chevy Safety Assist, and every 2021 Escape includes Co-Pilot360 technology. These are both suites of advanced safety features designed to prevent collisions and improve driving safety. Both offerings are generous and reliable, and in this respect, both compact SUVs are fairly well matched. Best of all, both have received 5-star ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.