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2021 Ford Escape vs. 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross: Which Is Better?


The recently redesigned 2021 Ford Escape goes against the 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, with a sleek sloped roofline and a class-competitive warranty. Which is better?

Quick Facts

  • Ford Escape includes four engine choices, including two hybrids.
  • Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross will be completely redesigned for 2022.
  • Both earn five-star NHTSA safety ratings.

2021 Ford Escape

2020 Ford EscapeBase price: $26,080 / Read our 2021 Ford Escape Review

What we like: Choice of engines, including two hybrids; optional all-wheel drive; active safety features come standard.

What we would change: Generic looks; 8-speed automatic can be jerky; steering can feel vague; weak base engine.

Overview: Redesigned for model-year 2020, the 2021 Ford Escape offers a comfortable ride and plenty of usable cargo room. The base engine is a wheezy 1.5-liter three-cylinder connected to an 8-speed automatic, but a better choice is the upgrade 2.0-liter turbo. There are also two hybrid choices, including a plug-in. Front-wheel drive is the base, but all-wheel drive is available on all trims except the plug-in hybrid and the only choice with the turbo. There are also a couple of different drive modes. Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 suite of driver-assist and safety functions comes standard on all trims of the 2021 Escape, although the base trim does not get the full touchscreen or Android Auto/Apple CarPlay. The interior is pleasant and comfortable, and we like the redundant buttons for some of the infotainment functions. Resale values are generally about midrange for compact SUVs.

What’s new for 2021: Even after a full redesign for the 2020 model year, the 2021 Escape still includes a number of changes. The hybrid is now available on the SE and SEL trims, and standard on the top Titanium trim. One of our favorite features about the Escape is Co-Pilot 360, and 360 Plus (available on the Titanium trim) now includes adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition. The Technology package now includes a hands-free power liftgate and memory settings for the driver seat and mirrors, and the Convenience package now gets a 10-way power-adjustable driver seat, keyless entry, and LED lighting. The Titanium trim also offers a new 19-inch wheel design, and models equipped with the 2.0-liter turbo can be equipped with a  Class II Trailer Tow package.

Features and technology: Ford offers the 2021 Escape in five trim levels, with the base S getting the 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine, the Co-Pilot 360 suite of safety features, different driving modes, second-row sliding seats, a 4.5-inch display monitor, two USB ports, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Next up is the SE trim, which is the first one with the 8-inch touchscreen with Sync 3 and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. It also gets heated front seats with 10-way-power adjustment for the driver, as well as keyless entry.

Next up is the SE Sport, with a 2.5-liter engine and an electric motor. It also includes a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, and black accents. The top two trims are the SEL and Titanium, with the SEL powered by the 2.5-liter turbo and the Titanium getting the hybrid powertrain, although the hybrid is also available as an option on the SEL. Features on the SEL include memory front seats, remote start, and sport contour bucket front seats. The top Titanium trim gets a B&O sound system, dual-zone climate control, and ambient lighting, as well as Co-Pilot 360 Plus, with more features.

What does the future hold: After a redesign last year, we don’t expect much in the way of drastic changes to the Escape, although we would like to see improvements to the 8-speed auto and steering that feels more connected. Find a 2021 Ford Escape for sale near you

2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse CrossBase price: $24,335 / Read our 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Review 

What we like: Good steering; optional all-wheel drive; great warranty; smooth engine

What we would change: Rear visibility is poor; there’s only one engine/transmission choice; rear legroom is tight

Overview: The compact Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross comes into 2021 unchanged, with a full redesign on the horizon for the 2022 model year. The single engine choice is a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder, but its low-end torque provides enough oomph to get the Eclipse Cross around. Combine that with confident steering and a short wheelbase and the 2021 Eclipse Cross makes for a nice city vehicle. One demerit, however, is that its sloped roof and high beltline make for somewhat limited visibility, although the SEL trim offers a rear camera. That sloped roof also cuts into cargo space. Inside the Eclipse Cross is comfortable, with plenty of options that include a panoramic sunroof, heated rear seats, and an optional upgraded infotainment system. Standard features include a 7-inch audio screen and a front USB port, although Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not available until you reach a higher trim. Some driver aids that are fairly standard nowadays are also not available until you reach the higher trim levels. Resale values have not typically been strong for the Eclipse Cross, but buyers may take solace in its 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty.

What’s new for 2021: With the Eclipse Cross facing a redesign for the 2022 model year, Mitsubishi skipped the 2021 model year entirely, simply continuing to offer the 2020 version. We’re hoping for better rear visibility and more driver-assist and safety features across all trims.

Features and technology: Every 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which sends power to the front wheels via a CVT. All-wheel drive is optional on all four trim levels, however. The base ES trim comes with automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 7-inch audio screen, power windows, 16-inch wheels, and a front USB port. The next step up LE adds 18-inch wheels, heated front seats, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto as well as Sirius/XM satellite radio.

The SE brings in safety features such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and a blind-spot warning system. It also includes chrome grille accents, nicer seat fabric, push-button start, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The top-level SEL gets paddle shifters, LED headlights, leather seats, an 8-way power-adjustable driver seat, and a head-up display. A Touring package can also be added to the SEL which includes a power panoramic sunroof, an upgraded Rockford Fosgate audio system, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, and roof rails.

What does the future hold: Mitsubishi is introducing a redesigned Eclipse Cross for the 2022 model year. Find a 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross for sale

Escape vs. Eclipse Cross: Strengths comparison

Escape Benefits: Choice of engines, including two hybrids; fuel economy; maximum cargo space

Eclipse Cross Benefits: Better steering; lower price; longer warranty

2021 Ford Escape vs. 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross: Which is better?

This is a bit of an unfair fight, as the Ford Escape was redesigned only a year ago and the Eclipse Cross is getting a much-needed refresh for 2022. That said, the 2021 Ford Escape is our pick here. It gives buyers a choice of engines, its interior space is usable and functional, and it even earns decent fuel economy. If you have your heart set on the Eclipse Cross, we advise you to wait a year and check back in 2022. Find a 2021 Ford Escape for sale or Find a 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross for sale

2021 Ford Escape 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
Popular Powertrains
Engine 1.5-liter turbo I3 1.5-liter turbo I4
Horsepower 181 hp @ 6,000 rpm 152 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque 190 lb-ft @ 3,300 rpm 184 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm
Transmission 8-spd automatic Continuously variable
Fuel Economy 30 mpg (23 city/27 highway) 27 mpg (26 city/29 highway)
Also Available 2.0-liter turbo I4; 2.5-liter I4 hybrid and PHEV; CVT n/a
Specs
Basic warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
Powertrain warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 10 years/100,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating 5 Stars 5 Stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 106.7 inches 105.1 inches
Overall Length 180.5 inches 173.4 inches
Width 74.0 inches 71.1 inches
Height 66.0 inches 66.3 inches
Turning Diameter 38.4 feet 35.0 feet
Headroom, Front 40.0 inches 39.5 inches
Headroom, Rear 39.3 inches 37.3 inches
Legroom, Front 42.4 inches 40.9 inches
Legroom, Rear 38.9 inches 35.3 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 57.6 inches 56.2 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 56 inches 55.1 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 104 cubic feet 94.6 cubic feet
EPA Cargo Volume 68.3 cubic feet 48.9 cubic feet

Doug Lloyd
Doug Lloyd is an author specializing in comparison tests. A veteran of the automotive press world, Doug started at Sports Car International and Vintage Motorsport magazines and has worked at both Porsche Panorama magazine and Edmunds.com. Doug is also a jazz piano player and a composer for television.

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