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2019 Toyota RAV4 vs. 2019 Ford Escape: Which Is Better?

  • The 2019 Toyota RAV4 is all-new.

  • The Ford Escape will be all-new for 2020.

  • The RAV4 is available in unique off-road oriented adventure trim.

Editor’s note: You may want to read more of Autotrader’s model vs. model comparison car reviews as well as the 2019 Toyota RAV4 review, and the 2019 Ford Escape review.

The Toyota RAV4 was the best-selling non-truck in the U.S. in 2018. With an all new version introduced for 2019, the RAV4 is in position to build on this sales lead in the coming year. So how do older vehicles like the Ford Escape compare? Below, we’ll take a look at both in a number of categories to find out.

2019 Toyota RAV4 vs. 2019 Ford Escape

Basic Specs

The outgoing RAV4 had been on sale since the 2013 model year, and the new one improves upon that generation in every way. The new RAV4 comes with a new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine making 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. With front-wheel drive, this is good for 26 miles per gallon in the city, 35 mpg on the highway and 30 mpg in combined driving. All-wheel-drive models earn 27 mpg city/34 mpg hwy/30 mpg combined. Unique components on the Adventure AWD-only adventure trim mean a slight decrease to fuel economy. The Adventure earns 25 mpg city/33 mpg hwy/28 mpg combined.

The Hybrid pairs a version of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with a hybrid system. Altogether, the hybrid puts out 219 hp through standard AWD.

While fuel economy figures have yet to be released for the RAV4 Hybrid, Toyota advertises an estimated fuel economy of 41 mpg city/37 mpg hwy/39 mpg combined.

The new RAV4 is available with three different AWD systems. Basic LE, XLE and XLE Premium models use a simple car-based system. A more sophisticated torque-vectoring system is standard on Adventure and optional on Limited models. Finally, the Hybrid’s system uses electric motors to power the rear wheels.

The standard RAV4 is rated to tow up to 1,500 pounds, while the Hybrid can tow 1,750 pounds. The Adventure is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds.

RAV4 prices start at $26,545 for a base LE model, while a top-of-the-line Limited Hybrid model starts at $36,745. The Adventure trim starts at $32,900 and exceeds $38,000 fully loaded. See the 2019 Toyota RAV4 models for sale near you

The Escape was last fully-redesigned for 2013, and while it did receive a mild update for 2017, it carries over into the 2019 model year virtually unchanged. Three different engines are available. On the low end is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder putting out 168 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. Step up to an SE or SEL model and the Escape comes fitted with a turbocharged 1.5 liter 4-cylinder putting out 179 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. At the top of the lineup is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder putting out a respectable 245 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque, one of the more powerful powertrains offered in a compact SUV.

The Escape’s lone transmission option is a 6-speed automatic. With any of the above powertrains, the Escape returns between 23 and 26 mpg in combined driving.

The Escape can tow up to 3,500 pounds when properly equipped.

The 2019 Ford Escape starts at $24,105 and reaches around $37,000 in top of the line Titanium trim. See the 2019 Ford Escape models for sale near you

2019 Toyota RAV4 vs. 2019 Ford Escape


Based on most dependability studies, Toyota buyers consistently see above average reliability, while Ford buyers see average reliability. Both Toyota and Ford offer a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, which is pretty much the industry standard, although the warranties offered by Hyundai, Kia and Volkswagen are more generous.

2019 Toyota RAV4 vs. 2019 Ford Escape


It’s hard to find an appreciable difference between the interior and exterior dimensions of these two vehicles.

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 measures 180.9 inches long, 73.0 inches wide and 67.0 inches tall, and offers between 8.4 and 8.6 inches of ground clearance — almost two and a half inches more than the outgoing model. Inside, front seat RAV4 passengers get 37.7 inches of headroom and 41.0 inches of legroom. In the second row, the RAV4 offers 39.5 inches of headroom and 37.8 inches of legroom. In terms of cargo space, the RAV4 offers 38 cu ft. behind the second row, or 70 cu ft. with the second row folded.

The Escape comes in at 178.1 inches long, 72.4 inches wide and 66.3 inches tall, and offers a 7.8 inches of ground clearance. Front seat Escape passengers are offered 39.9 inches of headroom and 43.1 inches of legroom. Move to the second row, and the Escape has 39.0 inches of headroom and 37.3 inches of legroom. The Escape offers 34 cu ft. behind the second row or 68 cu ft. with the second row folded.

2019 Toyota RAV4 vs. 2019 Ford Escape


The 2019 Toyota RAV4 is available with a variety of different features, including a panoramic sunroof, a 7-in display in the gauge cluster, wireless charging pad, JBL audio system, digital rearview mirror, keyless entry with push-button start, a hands-free lift gate that can be operated by waving one’s foot under the bumper, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, dual-zone climate control, a shelf cleverly integrated into the dashboard and a household power outlet located in the cargo area.

The Escape doesn’t offer as many modern features as the new RAV4. The Escape can be had with a panoramic moonroof, a Sony audio system and a foot-activated power rear lift gate. Heated front seats and a heated steering wheel are optional, but neither ventilated front seats nor heated rear seats are on the option sheet.

Altogether, the RAV4 offers a sleek new interior along with many of the new cutting-edge features available on the market today, while the aging Escape just can’t compete, and feels rather dated inside as a result of its age.

2019 Toyota RAV4 vs. 2019 Ford Escape


LE and XLE trim levels of the 2019 RAV4 come standard with a 7-in infotainment screen. An 8-in unit is optional on the XLE, and standard on the XLE Premium, Adventure and Limited trims. Apple CarPlay is offered, but Android Auto is still sorely absent. Five total USB ports are present: one for multimedia and four for charging. The 2019 RAV4 also comes with up to two 12-volt outlets, along with an available 120-volt/100-watt 3-pronged power AC outlet.

Upper-level SEL and Titanium trims of the Escape come with an 8-in infotainment screen. The screen is also optional on SE models. Ford’s Sync3 infotainment setup is generally regarded as being pretty good, while both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included. The Ford Escape offers four 12 volt outlets and two USB ports.

2019 Toyota RAV4 vs. 2019 Ford Escape


As of this writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash test results have yet to be released for the RAV4. That said, the outgoing RAV4 scored well enough to earn a Top Safety Pick designation, so we have to think the all-new model will score just as well. The new RAV4 should do well enough to earn an even better Top Safety Pick+ status.

The aging Escape hasn’t kept up with safety standards as well, only earning a score of Acceptable on the IIHS driver’s side small front overlap test and a score of Poor on the passenger’s side.

The new RAV4 sets the standard when it comes to active safety technology. Standard across the board are pedestrian detection, with low-light pedestrian detection and daytime cyclist detection, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, road edge detection and sway warning system, automatic high beams, full speed range dynamic radar cruise control, road sign assist and lane tracing assist. Blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic assist and automated rear braking are optional.

The Escape’s active safety tech is optional throughout the lineup and fragmented across a few different packages. 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 assist are all available.

Autotrader’s Advice

Altogether, the Toyota RAV4 is dollar for dollar one of the best new vehicles on sale in 2019. It offers one of the best assortments of active safety features on the market, most of which are standard. Additionally, the hybrid variants offer excellent fuel economy at a very reasonable price premium, while the fun Adventure trim offers added off-road capability and rugged aesthetics. The Escape offers a good infotainment setup and a number of attractive features, not to mention a more powerful 245 hp engine option. Overall though, the Escape is an older vehicle in need of a redesign, and while you may be able to score a great deal on a 2019 model later this year as dealers prepare for the release of the all-new 2020 model, the all-new 2019 RAV4 is easily the better vehicle. Find a Toyota RAV4 for sale near you or Find a Ford Escape for sale near you

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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