2020 Subaru Forester vs. Ford Escape: Which SUV’s Better?

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Two of the most popular small SUVs in America, the Subaru Forester and the Ford Escape, are in it to win it. They’re spacious. They’re off-road-ready. They’re great for families. But which one’s best for you?

To help you out, we've compared the 2020 Forster and Escape to help you determine which SUV to buy. Read onward, shopper.

Overall Performance

These are both small vehicles with small engines, but the Forester has the edge here. All models have continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that shifts the engine's power to the trademarked all-wheel-drive system, and are powered by a 2.5-liter flat-four-cylinder engine that can tow up to 1500 pounds with 182 horsepower.

Not all Escape models have all-wheel drive, which is fine if you're not driving in inclement weather or off-road. The standard is a 181-hp, 1.5-liter, 3 cylinder turbocharged engine that's available on front or all-wheel-drive models. For any sort of acceleration, you need to upgrade to the 250-hp, turbo 2.0 liter, four-cylinder edition.

Fuel costs and mileage are top of mind for any savvy car buyer these days, and the Subaru beats the Ford here, too. The Forester takes regular unleaded gasoline and has a combined fuel economy of 29 mpg, while the Escape requires premium unleaded gas for 28 mpg.

Safety Scores

Both automakers have traditionally scored high marks for safety. Testing on the Forester confirms that history, with five-star ratings for crash testing from any angle. For the most part, the 2020 Escape has Good ratings with IIHS crash tests, although it only scored in the Acceptable range for the Structure and Safety Cage, which led to an overall Acceptable rating.

Safety Features

Ford has put their driver-assistance suite of features on all Escape models. Here are some of the features.

  • Forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
  • Lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
  • Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert

All Forester models for 2020 come with Subaru's EyeSight suite of camera-based features for driver assistance. These are some of the key components.

  • Automated emergency braking
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist?

For all intents and purposes, Subaru EyeSight is a more comprehensive safety suite than Ford’s, though both the Forester and Escape offer safe rides overall.

Cabin Comfort And Infotainment

Buyers expect all the bells and whistles in a small SUV, whether they're crawling up the side of a mountain or sitting in a carpool line. Again, the Forester bests the Escape.

For starters, the base S model Escape is as stripped down as any vehicle in the American market--a 4.2 inch radio display with a choice of AM or FM radio. Upgrade to the SE trim level and higher and you can get Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system interface and the capability for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A smartphone app for remote start and telematics is available on all Escapes, but for real whiz-bang tech you're looking at the premium Titanium Escape--ten speakers, in-dash navigation, and a 12.3" digital gauge display.

Subaru puts their Starlink interface and a touchscreen infotainment system as standard in all Forester models. Limited and Touring editions have a larger 8" touchscreen. All models also have four USB ports so everybody can always be charging, even in the backseat. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, but the higher level trim lines go the extra mile with standard navigation.


The Forester base model has an MSRP of $24,495, while the Touring trim level maxes out at $34, 595. Comparatively, the Escape begins at $26,080 for the bare-bones S and tops out at $37,880 for the Titanium. Considering what else you can get for almost $40K, that's a lot for a small Ford SUV, no matter how tricked out.

Come by McCarthy Subaru of Lawrence to see what the 2020 Forester can do. We’re located at 2233 W 29th Terrace in Lawrence, KS. Contact our Subaru dealership at (785) 856-7127 to start your auto financing application, discover our current Subaru specials or learn more about how to receive free Subaru delivery during the Coronavirus pandemic. Stay safe!

Categories: New Inventory
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