If you're not already driving one yourself, you only have to look out your window to see the number of compact crossovers on the roads to realize how popular the format is with buyers. Two models that are among the most popular are the 2018 Ford Escape and the Kia Sportage, so let's compare them to see which is the better buy.
2018 Ford Escape vs Kia Sportage
Power and Performance: Ford Escape
Buyers are pretty spoiled with three engine options in the 2018 Ford Escape: a 2.5-liter inline-four, and 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter EcoBoost units. The base engine puts out a useful 168 horsepower, but the excellent 1.5 offers 179 horsepower and the 2.0-liter puts a frisky 245 horsepower at your disposal. All models get a six-speed automatic transmission, and although most Escapes are likely to be front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive is available.
There are just two engine options for the Sportage, but they are more than adequate. The non-turbo 2.4-liter inline-four is rated at 181 horsepower, and the alternative is a 2.0-liter turbo-four that develops 240 horsepower. Once again, a six-speed auto and front-drive is standard with all-wheel drive available.
Interior Space and Comfort: Kia Sportage
The Ford Escape offers buyers a useful 98.1 cu.-ft. of passenger volume inside the cabin, but those in the front feel the benefit more than those in the rear seats. There's a generous 43.1 inches of leg room in the front, but a below-par 36.8 inches in the back. The seats are also a little thin and firm, which suits the sporty feel of the Escape but won't be to everyone's liking.
A high-quality feel is what hits you straight away when you sit inside this latest Kia Sportage. There's plenty of room throughout, with an impressive 38.2 inches of leg room in the rear seats, and the quality of the trim and surfaces is excellent. There's certainly no low-rent version of the Sportage, and the extra leg room is the icing on the cake that gives a victory here to the Kia.
Fuel Economy: Ford Escape
Although you will find more fuel-efficient compact crossovers than the Ford Escape if you look hard enough, there's a perfect blend of performance and economy with the Escape. The most frugal versions are rated by the EPA as good as 23 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined, and even at its worst the Escape still gets 20/27/23 mpg.
The most frugal version of the Kia Sportage is an exact match for the thriftiest Ford Escape, but as a turbo Sportage with all-wheel drive is rated worse than its Escape equivalent at 20/23/21 mpg. The Ford barely manages a close-fought victory for fuel economy--but they're likely closer to a tie.
Learn More about the Ford Escape
Unless you don't like the face of the Kia Sportage, it's hard to see many buyers being in any way disappointed by it. The 2017 Ford Escape doesn't score a runaway victory here over the Kia by any means, but the Escape's better fuel economy and range of engines is enough for us to choose it ahead of the Sportage.