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2018 Honda CR-V vs. 2018 Ford Escape: Which Is Better?

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Chris O'Neill August 2018
  • The Honda CR-V was all-new for 2017.

  • The Escape Titanium comes with a 245 horsepower turbocharged engine.

  • The CR-V is named an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

Two of the top SUVs on the market are the 2018 Honda CR-V and the 2018 Ford Escape. Both offer utility, practicality and the benefits of all-wheel drive. Here, we'll take a look at the two and highlight the major differences in an effort to determine which is the better buy right now.

The Honda CR-V was fully redesigned for the 2017 model year. The 2018 CR-V starts at $24,250 in LX trim and tops out at around $35,000 in fully-loaded Touring trim. The Escape was last all-new for the 2013 model year and received an update for 2017. The entry-level Escape S starts at $23,940, while the top-trim Titanium approaches $36,000.

Basic Specs

Entry-level CR-Vs come with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. Step up to any other trim level, and the CR-V comes with a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 190 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. All CR-Vs come with a continuously variable transmission and are available with either front- or all-wheel drive.

With all-wheel drive, CR-Vs equipped with the 2.4-liter earn 27 miles per gallon combined, while CR-Vs with the new turbocharged engine earn 29 mpg combined.

The Escape is available with three different engines. Base models come with a 2.5 liter 4-cylinder making 168 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. Step up to the SE or SEL model and you're looking at a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 179 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. The Titanium model comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder making 245 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque, making it among the more powerful vehicles offered in the compact SUV segment. Both turbocharged engines offer start-stop functionality. All Escapes come with a 6-speed automatic transmission and can be specified with all-wheel drive.

All-wheel-drive-equipped Escapes earn between 23 and 24 mpg in combined city and highway driving when equipped with any of the three available engines.

Reliability

In recent JD Power reliability studies, Honda came in just above the industry average, while Ford came in just below. CR-V and Escape buyers should both see good reliability from their vehicles. Both Ford and Honda offer a 3-year, 36,000-mile basic and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, which is right in line with the rest of the industry.

Safety

The 2018 Honda CR-V earns Top Safety Pick designations from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, achieving scores of Good in all major categories. The Escape doesn't fare as well, particularly in the small front overlap category, where it earns scores of Acceptable and Poor on the driver and passenger sides, respectively. This can likely be attributed to the Escape's aging design.

Honda Sensing, Honda's name for its suite of driver assistance safety features comes standard on all trim-levels of the CR-V except for on the base LX model. On the CR-V, this includes adaptive cruise control, front automated emergency braking, automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist and rear cross-traffic monitoring.

The Escape offers a good variety of driver assistance safety features as well, although they're optional throughout the lineup. The Escape can be fitted with adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, parking assist, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic monitoring.

Dimensions

The Honda CR-V is 180.6 inches long, 73.0 inches wide and 66.5 inches tall, and has 8.2 inches of ground clearance. The Escape is 2.5 inches shorter than the CR-V at 178.1 inches, 0.6 inches narrower at 72.4 inches and about the same height at 66.3 inches. The Escape has 7.8 inches of ground clearance.

In the front, the CR-V offers 40.1 inches of headroom and 41.3 inches of legroom. Back seat passengers have 39.2 inches of headroom and 40.4 inches of legroom. The Escape offers about the same front seat headroom as the CR-V at 39.9 inches and slightly more legroom for front seat passengers with 43.1 inches. While the Escape offers just as much headroom as the CR-V at 39.0 inches, back seat legroom comes at a premium with only 37.3 inches offered.

Compared to the competition, the CR-V offers ample cargo room with 39 cu ft. behind the second row, and 76 cu ft. with the second row folded. While not as big, the Escape offers a sizable cargo area as well, with 34 cu ft. and 68 cu ft.

Interior Design

As part of its recent redesign, the CR-V gained an attractive interior incorporating many modern design touches, including a large available center infotainment screen and a large screen in the gauge cluster. The gear shift knob and electronic parking brake control is mounted at the base of the dashboard, allowing for additional storage space on the center console. Gray or black cloth or leather seating surfaces are available. While the CR-V's interior is attractive as a whole, the incorporation of faux wood trim feels dated.

For an aging vehicle, the Escape's interior is also rather attractive, though it goes overboard on the black plastic. A large black plastic "clamshell" shape sits atop the dashboard and encompasses the center infotainment system and HVAC vents, which are also comprised of black plastic. The Escape gets an electronic parking brake mounted behind the gear shifter on the center console, all of which are black plastic. The Escape gets an LCD screen mounted in the gauge cluster, but it isn't as big or as nice as the CR-V's. Black or beige fabric or leather interiors are available. Overall, you can't call the Escape's interior ugly, but it's indicative of a vehicle that's due for a redesign.

Technology & Infotainment

The CR-V offers a few upmarket features, including an available panoramic moonroof, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a power tailgate that can be activated by waving your foot under the vehicle's bumper, power driver and passenger seats, LED headlights and a heated steering wheel in addition to heated front seats.

EX models and up come with a 7-inch infotainment screen running Honda's HondaLink infotainment system, which is said to be sub-par compared to offerings from other manufacturers. Luckily, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included. For 2018, the CR-V gains a physical volume knob -- a welcome addition, as the 2017 model was criticized for its touchscreen method of volume adjustment. One 12-volt outlet and four USB ports are included.

The Escape is available with many of the same features as the CR-V, including a panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel, HID headlights, heated and power-adjustable front seats and a power tailgate with the same foot-activation functionality.

Entry-level Escapes get a small, simple infotainment screen. SEL and Titanium models come with an 8-inch screen running Ford's Sync 3 infotainment software, while the Titanium model comes with navigation. SE models can also be optioned with the 8-inch screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included with the 8-inch unit. The Escape offers four 12-volt outlets and two USB ports.

Autotrader's Advice

The Escape and CR-V offer many of the same features, though we're inclined to say that the CR-V is the better buy in 2018 due to the fact that it is a relatively new design, especially compared to the Escape, which was last redesigned in 2013. Additionally, the CR-V earns better fuel economy than the Escape and offers more cargo room.

The Escape is still a viable option, though, and buyers looking for more power should look to the Titanium trim level for its potent 245-hp turbocharged engine.

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New 2018 Honda CR-V AWD EX-L
New 2018 Honda CR-V
MSRP $31,945
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New 2018 Honda CR-V AWD EX-L
New 2018 Honda CR-V
MSRP $31,945
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New 2018 Honda CR-V AWD EX-L
New 2018 Honda CR-V
MSRP $31,945
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
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New 2018 Honda CR-V AWD EX
New 2018 Honda CR-V
MSRP $29,445
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Honda CR-V vs. 2018 Ford Escape: Which Is Better? - Autotrader