The 2021 Ford Escape and the 2021 Buick Envision are two compact, 2-row SUVs from rival American automakers. Which is better?
- The 2021 Ford Escape was completely redesigned last year.
- The 2021 Buick Envision is all-new for this year and gets plenty of upgrades. It is, however, only available with one engine option.
2021 Ford Escape
Base Price: $26,130 / Read our 2021 Ford Escape Review
What we like: Multiple powertrain choices including two high-mpg hybrids; standard active-safety features; zippy turbo 4-cylinder; good outward visibility.
What we would change: Unrefined base engine; Apple CarPlay/Android Auto missing from base trim; relatively anonymous styling.
Overview: Completely redesigned last year, the Ford Escape emerged with a completely new look and a slate of new powertrains. Slightly larger outside, the 2021 Escape comfortably seats five inside and has good luggage space both behind the rear seats and with the rear seatbacks folded.
The interior harbors a disappointing amount of cheap-looking plastic, however. The base engine is a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder turbo that makes a credible 181 horsepower but lacks refinement. A gutsy 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo spins out 250 hp and is a worthwhile upgrade. Both engines are paired with an 8-speed automatic and front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). Alternately, there’s a 4-cylinder hybrid (it’s standard on the top trim) with EPA combined ratings of 41 mpg (FWD) and 40 mpg (AWD). A second hybrid is a plug-in and offers an impressive 37 miles of electric range.
What’s new for 2021: Several option packages boast more content. The Convenience package now includes a 10-way power driver’s seat, LED exterior lighting, and an exterior keypad. The Technology package adds a hands-free liftgate and memory settings. The Co-Pilot360 Plus upgrade gets adaptive cruise control and traffic-sign recognition. The hybrid engine is now standard on the top-spec Titanium trim and is newly available on the mid-level SE and SEL.
Features and technology: The Escape comes in S, SE, SE Sport, SEL, and Titanium trims. All include forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. The Titanium additionally has adaptive cruise control and traffic-sign recognition.
The base Escape S gets an audio system with a small display, while an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and optional navigation arrives with the SE. Base trims get cloth upholstery, with faux leather on mid grades and real leather in the Titanium. Heated seats and a 10-way power driver seat are on all but the base model. The S, SE, and SEL get the 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine, with the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder optional on the SEL. The SE Sport and Titanium come standard with the hybrid powertrain.
What does the future hold: The Escape isn’t likely to see significant changes in the near term. For buyers craving a more rugged and off-road-oriented compact SUV, Ford just introduced a sibling to the Escape — the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport. See 2021 Ford Escape models for sale near you
2021 Buick Envision
2021 Buick Envision starting price: $31,800 / Read our 2021 Buick Envision Review
What we like: Turbocharged engine; great safety suite; wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; great top-of-the-line Avenir model; optional AWD across the lineup.
What we would change: Add power liftgate on the base model.
Overview: The Buick Envision is a compact premium crossover by Buick that offers tons of luxury amenities for a good price. It is a 2-row, 5-passenger vehicle that is built off the same chassis as the Cadillac XT4. While the vehicle is from an American brand, this SUV is built in China.
What’s new for 2021: The Envision is all-new for this model year. It is about the same length as the previous generation but is lower, wider, and comes in three trim levels: Preferred, Essence, and Avenir. All versions get a turbocharged 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine that makes 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.
There are no other engine options, though you can opt for either FWD or AWD across the lineup. The FWD version gets 24 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined. AWD versions are slightly less fuel-efficient making 22 mpg city/ 29 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined. Adding AWD will cost you $1,800 regardless of the trim level you choose.
Features and technology: At the base level, or Preferred trim, the Envision comes with bi-LED headlights, manual-adjust cloth-covered front seats, and an infotainment system featuring an 8-inch touchscreen, Sirius XM radio, and wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. It also comes with push-button ignition, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, cruise control, and a safety suite that includes automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and automatic high-beam headlights.
The mid-grade Buick Envision is the Essence trim. It adds heated and power-adjustable front seats, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 10-inch touchscreen, an 8-inch multicolor driver information center, and a power liftgate.
Most luxurious is the Envision Avenir. At this level, you get a premium Bose 9-speaker audio system, a cargo compartment cover, premium floormats, a head-up display, a 360-degree camera, a massaging driver’s seat, heated rear seats, and an infotainment system with more memory. The Buick Envision Avenir also has front and rear park assist, plus larger wheels and tires.
In addition to a $1,450 optional moonroof, the 2021 Buick Envision Essence can be ordered with a $2,500 Technology Package that includes front and rear park assist, HD surround vision, the 9-speaker Bose audio system, and a head-up display. The Essence and Avenir versions of the Envision also are available with a $1,965 Technology Package II. This includes enhanced versions of the automatic emergency braking and parking assist programs, plus adaptive cruise control, articulating headlamps, a video rearview mirror, and an active suspension with continuous damping.
What does the future hold: Buick sells more cars in China than it does in the U.S., which means that we may see some additional engine options in future iterations. Find a Buick Envision for sale near you
Escape vs. Envision: Strengths Comparison
Ford Escape benefits: Multiple powertrain choices; hybrid’s impressive fuel economy; standard 8-speed automatic; more luggage space.
Buick Envision benefits: Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; tons of luxury amenities; turbocharged engine.
2021 Ford Escape vs. 2021 Buick Envision: Which is better?
The competition is close between these two American brands, but we put the Buick Envision just above the Ford Escape in this comparison. Yet, if you’re looking for more powerful or hybrid engine options, opt for the Escape since the Buick only comes with one engine option.
|Popular Powertrains||2021 Ford Escape||2021 Buick Envision|
|Engine||1.5-liter turbo I3||2.0-liter turbo I-4|
|Horsepower||181 hp @ 6,000 rpm||228 hp @ 5000 rpm|
|Torque||190 lb-ft @ 3,300 rpm||258 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm|
|Transmission||8-spd automatic||9-spd automatic|
|Fuel Economy||30 mpg (23 city/27 hwy)||25 mpg (24 city/31 hwy)|
|Also Available||2.0-liter turbo I4; 2.5-liter I4 hybrid and PHEV; CVT; AWD||AWD|
|Basic warranty||3 years/36,000 miles||4 years/ 50,000 miles|
|Powertrain Warranty||5 years/60,000 miles||6 years/ 70,000 miles|
|NHTSA Overall Safety Rating||5 stars||NA|
|Max Seating Capacity||5||5|
|Wheelbase||106.7 inches||109.4 inches|
|Overall Length||180.5 inches||182.5 inches|
|Width||74.0 inches||74.1 inches|
|Height||66.0 inches||64.6 inches|
|Turning Diameter||38.4 feet||38 feet|
|Headroom, Front||40.0 inches||39.6 inches|
|Headroom, Rear||39.3 inches||38.9 inches|
|Legroom, Front||42.4 inches||40.4 inches|
|Legroom, Rear||38.9 inches||39.3 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Front||57.6 inches||56.7 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Rear||56 inches||55.9 inches|
|EPA Passenger Volume||104 cubic ft.||100.4 cubic feet|
|Cargo Volume behind rear sear||37.5 cubic ft.||25.2 cubic feet|