SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) are a fun class of vehicle to drive – with their generally excellent handling on the road, their quick acceleration, and the ability to move a fair number of people while still looking pretty cool, they represent the best of several different types of vehicles on the road today. The differences between the Ford Escape and the Toyota RAV4 are pretty minimal, especially when it comes to the looks.
The Ford Escape proves that it is a solid and bona fide crossover, but is hampered by sluggish handling and an interior that feels very cheap and plasticky. The RAV4 provides everything you would expect from a Toyota: a strong, refined choice but with a slightly dated-looking interior that you may wish would disappear to days of future past.
The RAV4’s design is reminiscent of one from the mid-1990s and the uncomfortably-designed plastic dash is not something that makes most customers thrilled with the feel. The ride of the RAV4 is comfortable and the interior is spacious, but the third row is definitely lacking in size and the rear-mounted spare is not convenient at all. The Escape has an automatic that drives above-average gas mileage for the four-cylinder engine but the ride and body roll leave very much to be desired.
Identical fuel economy for highway, and only slightly different city fuel economy make these both a decent option for commuting, but still far surpassed by the majority of sedans. The larger 16.5 gallon fuel tank on the Ford Escape let you go just a little bit longer between fill-ups; something that is always appreciated when you have small children.
Overall NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) doesn’t offer a stellar rating to either of the two offerings, with the rollover rating, front ratings and driver’s side ratings giving four stars for both the Toyota RAV4 and the 2012 Ford Escape. In IIHS crash test ratings, both vehicles rated “Good” for the majority of testing. Other challenges came from the overall rollover rating for the two vehicles. An additional immobilizer is available in the RAV4 that doesn’t exist in the Ford Escape.
The Ford Escape offers some extras that the RAV4 just doesn’t – things like a higher-tech audio and stereo system as well as additional overhead storage, tilted head restraints and available voice recognition.
Both of these options offer a relatively affordable ride that provides the security of a larger vehicle with the gas mileage of a much smaller and more compact ride.