2021 Chevrolet Equinox vs. 2021 Ford Escape Comparison

Erin Riches-Wong | Jan 27, 2021

Demand for small SUVs remains at an all-time high. Together, the Chevrolet Equinox and Ford Escape accounted for nearly half a million sales in 2020.

This level of popularity won't come as any surprise if you've driven a compact crossover SUV lately. Vehicles in this class are loaded with conveniences and safety aids, yet competitive pricing puts them well within reach of typical new-car shoppers. And while most small crossovers offer ample space and comfort for two adults and possibly a pair of children, you can still maneuver and park them with ease.

If you're considering a small SUV with a Ford or Chevy badge, this 2021 Chevrolet Equinox vs. 2021 Ford Escape comparison should help with your decision-making process.

Price and Value

2021 Chevrolet Equinox Premier Red Front View

Chevrolet Equinox Premier

Pricing for the 2021 Chevrolet Equinox ranges from $23,800 to $31,400, not including a $1,195 destination charge. The Equinox comes in L, LS, LT, and Premier trim levels. The base L is front-wheel-drive only, but all-wheel drive is a $1,600 option on all other trims.

With a revised Equinox in the works for the 2022 model year, Chevrolet is offering a limited powertrain menu for the 2021 model year. Every 2021 Equinox comes with a turbocharged, 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. Last year's lively 2.0-liter turbo engine is on hiatus but will return for 2022.

Every 2021 Chevy Equinox comes with a three-month trial subscription to certain OnStar connected services, including automatic crash notification, quick access to emergency and roadside services, and remote engine start and door locking via your smartphone. You also get five years of vehicle diagnostics monitoring and notifications, along with a one-month free trial of the Equinox's built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot service (you can use up to 3 GB).

Chevrolet will cover the cost of your 2021 Equinox's first oil change and tire rotation, provided it occurs within the first year you own the vehicle.

The 2021 Ford Escape ranges in price from $24,885 to $36,155, not including a $1,245 destination charge. There are two available gasoline engines: a base turbocharged, 1.5-liter 3-cylinder and the upgrade option, a potent turbo 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. There's also the Escape Hybrid, which has a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, dual electric motors, and a small battery pack.

Trim levels are S, SE, SE Sport, SEL, and Titanium. Most versions have standard front-wheel drive, so you'll need to budget another $1,500 if you want AWD.

Ford has not yet released pricing for the new-for-2021 Escape Plug-in Hybrid, but you can expect it to start at just under $35,000. The plug-in hybrid Escape also uses the 2.5-liter engine but has a larger battery pack than the regular hybrid. It's front-wheel-drive only.

Every 2021 Ford Escape comes with FordPass Connect. It offers fewer features than the Equinox's OnStar, but for the moment, it's free. Owners can use their phones to lock the doors, start the engine, or schedule a time to start the engine (such as on cold mornings). FordPass Connect includes a three-month free trial for the Escape's 4G Wi-Fi hotspot (up to 3 GB).

Ford does not offer complimentary scheduled maintenance, though you can earn points for various activities (purchasing an Escape, for example) through the FordPass rewards program and then redeem them at participating dealerships for discounts on oil changes and other services.

Advantage: Ford Escape

Reliability and Quality

2021 Ford Escape Titanium Red Front Quarter View

2021 Ford Escape Titanium

The Chevrolet Equinox took top honors among compact SUVs in the J.D. Power 2020 Vehicle Dependability Study of three-year-old vehicles and ranked third in the 2020 Initial Quality Study. The Equinox comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Roadside assistance: 5 years or 60,000 miles

The Ford Escape did not rank in either the 2020 Vehicle Dependability Study or the 2020 Initial Quality Study. The Escape comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Hybrid system warranty: 8 years or 100,000 miles
  • Hybrid battery warranty: 8 years or 100,000 miles
  • Roadside assistance: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Advantage: Chevrolet Equinox

Performance and Efficiency

2021 Chevrolet Equinox Premier Interior

2021 Chevrolet Equinox Premier

Every 2021 Chevrolet Equinox uses a 1.5-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that makes 170 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard across the board. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the front-wheel-drive Equinox at 28 mpg in combined driving. With AWD, the Chevy's combined fuel economy rating is 27 mpg.

In past years, most Equinox buyers have selected this engine over the pricier 2.0-liter engine. But if you're the rare small SUV buyer who might tow a trailer, you'll want to hold out for the return of the 2.0-liter engine in 2022. With the 1.5-liter engine, the Equinox's tow limit is just 1,500 pounds.

The S, SE, and SEL versions of the 2021 Ford Escape have a standard turbocharged, 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine that's good for 180 hp and 190 lb.-ft. of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission is included. The EPA rates fuel economy in combined driving at 30 mpg with front-wheel drive and 28 with AWD.

On the SE Sport and Titanium trims, hybrid power is standard. A 165-hp, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine joins forces with a couple of electric motors, a small lithium-ion battery pack and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) to deliver a combined output of 200 hp. Combined fuel economy rates 41 mpg with front-drive and 40 mpg with AWD.

If you're less concerned about fuel mileage, you can get a potent 2.0-liter, turbocharged gasoline 4-cylinder engine on the Escape SEL and Titanium. This engine makes 250 hp and 280 lb.-ft. of torque. The 8-speed automatic is standard, as is AWD. The EPA lists combined fuel economy at 26 mpg. This is the 2021 Escape to get if you ever plan on towing, as an available trailering package gives it a 3,500-pound rating.

The 2021 Escape Plug-in Hybrid has the same basic components as the regular Escape Hybrid, but thanks to a larger 14.4-kilowatt-hour battery pack, it's EPA-rated to travel 37 miles on electricity alone. 

Advantage: Ford Escape

Safety and Driving Assistance

2021 Ford Escape Titanium Interior

2021 Ford Escape Titanium

Every 2021 Chevrolet Equinox comes with Chevy Safety Assist, which bundles various advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS), including a forward-collision warning system, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, a following distance indicator, and automatic high-beam control for the headlights.

Blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning are optional on the Equinox LT and standard on the Premier. Other options to consider on the Premier include adaptive cruise control and GM's Safety Alert Seat, which can use vibrations or audible alerts to help you identify a nearby collision and take evasive action if needed. Every Equinox comes with a rear-seat reminder feature that activates under certain conditions to help you avoid leaving children or pets in the vehicle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2021 Chevrolet Equinox a 5-star rating for overall crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the 2020 Equinox a Top Safety Pick.

All 2021 Ford Escapes come with Ford Co-Pilot 360, which has the same basic features as Chevy Safety Assist but includes blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems.

Most trims can be upgraded with Ford Co-Pilot 360 Assist+, which provides Level 2 semi-autonomous driving assistance by adding adaptive cruise control with lane-centering assistance and stop-and-go capability (it will automatically resume after traffic delays of up to 30 seconds). Co-Pilot Assist+ also provides evasive steering assistance and speed-limit sign recognition.

Both the gasoline and regular hybrid versions of the Escape have a 5-star overall crash test rating from the NHTSA. The IIHS rated the 2020 Escape a Top Safety Pick.

Advantage: Ford Escape

Infotainment and Technology

2021 Chevrolet Equinox Premier Red Rear Quarter View

2021 Chevrolet Equinox Premier

A 7-inch touchscreen infotainment interface is standard on most versions of the 2021 Chevrolet Equinox. This setup includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, four USB ports (two of them in the backseat), an auxiliary audio input, and a 6-speaker audio system. A 3-month trial subscription for SiriusXM satellite radio is standard on all but the base L.

An upgraded 8-inch touchscreen display, factory navigation, and two additional USB ports are available on higher trims. Other options to consider include upgraded Bose audio, a rear entertainment system (with or without a DVD player), and a surround-view camera system. A wireless smartphone charging pad is standard on the Premier.

Most shoppers will want to skip right over the base S version of the 2021 Ford Escape, which has a disappointingly small 4.2-inch infotainment display and a single USB port. As in the Chevrolet, smartphone integration is standard, and you get six audio speakers. Stepping up to the Escape SE nets you an appropriately sized 8-inch touchscreen interface, three additional USB ports, and a 3-month free trial for satellite radio.

Desirable options on the 2021 Escape include factory navigation, an upgraded digital instrument panel, a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, a wireless phone charging pad, and head-up display.

Advantage: Chevrolet Equinox

Comfort and Utility

2021 Ford Escape Titanium Red Rear Quarter View

2021 Ford Escape Titanium

On the lower trims, the 2021 Chevrolet Equinox has single-zone automatic climate control and cloth seat upholstery. The steering wheel has tilt and telescopic adjustment, but you can't adjust the height of the driver seat. 

You'll definitely want the optional 8-way power driver’s seat on the LS. Higher trims have this feature as standard, along with available seat memory. The front passenger will make do with 4-way manual adjustment regardless of trim.

Dual-zone climate control is optional on the LT and standard on Premier. You can also get leather upholstery and heated front seats on these trims. The Equinox Premier alone is eligible for a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, and heated rear seats.

Cargo capacity is below average for a small SUV, as the Equinox offers just 29.9 cubic feet behind its backseat and 63.9 cu. ft. when its 60/40-split rear seats are folded down. A power liftgate is optional on the LT, and an upgraded hands-free liftgate is standard on the Premier.

The 2021 Ford Escape also starts you out with cloth upholstery and single-zone climate control, but a height-adjustable driver’s seat is standard. You can get a 10-way power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel as options on the Escape SE.

Ford's ActiveX leatherette upholstery is standard starting on the SEL trim level. A 6-way power front-passenger’s seat is standard on the Titanium only, while leather upholstery is an exclusive option for the Escape Titanium. 

The conventional gasoline-fueled Ford Escape offers average cargo numbers for a small SUV. It offers 37.5 cu. ft. behind its backseat and a maximum volume of 65.4 cu. ft. when its 60/40 rear seats are folded. You won't have quite as much capacity in the Hybrid and PHEV models as they top out at 34.4 cu. ft. and 60.8 cu. ft., respectively.

A power liftgate is optional for the SE trim level, while a hands-free liftgate is available starting at the SEL.

Advantage: Ford Escape

Learn More About the Chevrolet Equinox and Ford Escape

If you’d like to learn more about these small SUVs, be sure to read our expert reviews of the Chevrolet Equinox and the Ford Escape. To find out how people like you rate vehicles in this segment, be sure to check out our ratings from verified vehicle owners.

Also, please keep in mind that while the information in this article was accurate and valid on January 26, 2021, it may have changed since that date. Always confirm product details and availability with the automaker’s website or your local dealership.

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