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2018 Toyota RAV4 vs. 2018 Ford Escape: Which Is Better?

  • The 2018 Toyota RAV4 is available in Hybrid and Adventure trim levels.

  • The Ford Escape was updated for 2017.

  • The Toyota RAV4 will be all-new for 2019.

Editor’s note: You may want to read more of Autotrader’s model vs. model comparison car reviews as well as the 2018 Toyota RAV4 review, and the 2018 Ford Escape review.

With the compact SUV segment growing by the minute, the 2018 Toyota RAV4 and the 2018 Ford Escape are two of the most popular vehicles on the market. Both offer a great blend of efficiency, practicality and features. Still, both of these vehicles are getting a little long in the tooth, but if either one is still on your shopping list, we’ve outlined their major differences below in an effort to help you determine which is better for you.

2018 Toyota RAV4 and 2018 Ford Escape Exterior

Basic Specs

The RAV4 last received a full redesign for 2013 and was updated for the 2016 model year. An all-new RAV4 will be introduced for 2019, although this comparison will focus on the 2019 model. Standard in the current RAV4 is a 2.5 liter 4-cylinder engine making 176 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque. An available hybrid model pairs that engine with a hybrid system, increasing overall output to 294 hp and 206 lb-ft of torque.

With the traditional powertrain, the RAV4 earns 26 miles per gallon combined with front-wheel drive, or 24–25 mpg combined with all-wheel drive. The hybrid is only available in all-wheel drive and brings about considerable fuel savings, earning 32 mpg overall. Given that the hybrid comes at a small price premium, it presents a good value.

With the traditional powertrain, the RAV4 comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission, while hybrid models come with a continuously variable unitSee the 2018 Toyota RAV4 models for sale near you

Like the RAV4, the Escape was also last all new for the 2013 model year, while an update came in 2017. The Escape can be had with three different engines. Entry-level models come equipped with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder making 168 and 170 lb-ft of torque. SE and SEL models come with a turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder that makes 179 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. Top of the line Titanium models get a 2.0-liter turbo four that makes 245 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque; making for one of the more powerful compact SUVs on the market.

The Escape earns between 23 and 26 mpg in combined driving with any of the available engines. The Escape is offered exclusively with a 6-speed automatic transmission. See the 2018 Ford Escape models for sale near you

2018 Toyota RAV4 and 2018 Ford Escape Exterior


According to JD Power dependability studies, Toyota buyers should likely see above average reliability, while Ford buyers should see average to slightly below average reliability. Both manufacturers offer a 3-year, 36,000-mile basic and 5-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty, on par with industry standards.

2018 Toyota RAV4 and 2018 Ford Escape Exterior


The RAV4 and Escape are very similar when it comes to size.

The RAV4 is 183.5 inches long, 72.6 inches wide and 65.9 inches tall, and offers a rather diminutive 6.2 inches of ground clearance. Inside, front seat passengers get 39.8 inches of headroom and 42.6 inches of legroom. In the back, the RAV4 offers 38.9 inches of headroom and 37.2 inches of legroom.

The Escape is 178.1 inches long, 72.4 inches wide and 66.3 inches tall, offering 7.8 inches of ground clearance. Up front, the Escape offers 39.9 inches of headroom and 43.1 inches of legroom. In the back, Escape passengers get 39.0 inches of headroom and 37.3 inches of legroom.

RAV4 offers 38 cu ft. of cargo space behind the second row, and 73 cu ft. with the second row folded. The Escape is a little smaller, offering 34 cu ft. and 68 cu ft.

2018 Toyota RAV4 and 2018 Ford Escape Exterior

Technology and Features

The RAV4 can be optioned with such features as heated seats, a heated steering wheel and a power foot-activated tailgate on higher-level trim levels. Leather seats are introduced starting with the SE trim level. Hybrid models get unique gauges showing battery state of charge and driving efficiency measurements.

Overall, the 2018 RAV4’s interior features high quality construction, but the design is busy and dated, indicative of the vehicle’s aging design.

Available on the Escape are many of the same features available on the RAV4, but additional features include a power front passenger seat, a panoramic moonroof and HID headlights.

2018 Toyota RAV4 and 2018 Ford Escape Interior


Standard on entry-level RAV4s is a 6.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system, but higher trim models come with a 7-in screen. Regardless of screen size, buyers are stuck with Toyota’s Entune infotainment system, which is dated. In an era where most competitors offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, the 2018 RAV4 eschews such technology, although it will be included on the 2019 RAV4. The RAV4 comes with three 12-volt outlets and one USB port.

While entry-level Escapes get a small, simple infotainment screen, SEL and Titanium models come with an 8-in screen, which is optional on SE models. The 8-in screen runs Ford’s Sync 3 system, which is generally regarded as being highly competent, and is also compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The Escape offers four 12-volt outlets and two USB ports.

Altogether, the Escape’s infotainment and connectivity setup is far superior to that of the RAV4.

2018 Toyota RAV4 and 2018 Ford Escape Interior


The RAV4 earns a top safety pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety thanks to its generally good marks in crash testing. The Escape doesn’t fare as well as the RAV4 in small front overlap testing, although it receives good scores in other categories.

Both the RAV4 and Escape offer a variety of driver assistance safety features. The RAV4 offers a variety of standard features, including adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, forward-collision warning, front automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist. Buyers can also opt for front and rear parking sensors, along with blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert; all of which are optional.

The Escape’s driver assistance safety tech is optional throughout the lineup. Available are 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 detection.

Autotrader’s Advice

Neither the 2018 Toyota RAV4 nor the Ford Escape are the newest vehicles in their class; in fact, both are quite old and are due for a redesign. The RAV4 will receive this redesign for the 2019 model year, while the next all-new Escape is likely a year or two away. Still, the versions currently sitting on dealer lots are both highly competent vehicles. While the Escape offers a far superior infotainment system, we have to recommend the RAV4 in this comparison, thanks to its additional cargo space, better performance in crash testing and the availability of unique Hybrid and SE trim levels. Find a Toyota RAV4 for sale or Find a Ford Escape for sale

Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill is an author specializing in competitive analysis, consumer recommendations, and adventure-driven enthusiast content. A lifelong car enthusiast, he worked in the auto industry for a bit, helping Germans design cars for Americans, and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He runs an Instagram account, @MountainWestCarSpotter, which in his own words is "actually pretty good", and has a... Read More about Chris O'Neill

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