2017 Kia Sportage vs Ford Escape

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The 2017 Kia Sportage and the Ford Escape are both attractive, sporty compact crossovers that sell in impressive numbers in markets all around the world. Let’s see which comes out on top in a head-to-head comparison of the two.

2017 Kia Sportage vs Ford Escape


Although the exterior design and rear of this fourth-generation Sportage are not hugely different from the previous generation, the front fascia definitely is. The overall look is stylish, forthright, and perhaps even a little flamboyant. Though not every buyer will love the bug-eyed front, its distinctive look soon wins you over.

Ford makes the Escape more stylish, sporty, and car-like every time it refreshes this model. That’s what the majority of buyers want from a compact crossover, but it is beginning to morph the Escape into a slightly taller version of the Focus. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the more SUV-like styling of the Sportage has the edge for us.

Engines and Performance

Both engines available with the 2017 Kia Sportage are four-cylinder units, but neither is lacking in power and performance. The standard powerplant is a naturally aspirated 181 horsepower 2.4-liter, while the pick of the pair is a 2.0-liter turbo offering 240 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. Both engines come mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive is available for both.

Three engines are available with the Escape, which are a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter inline-four and two turbocharged EcoBoost units of 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter displacements. The 2.0-liter EcoBoost has a little more power than the Kia’s 2.0-liter, but the Kia’s standard engine is a better performer than either of the Ford’s other engines.

Fuel Economy

With the Sportage, Kia appears to have edged slightly towards performance over out and out fuel-efficiency. The best figures the Kia offers come from a front-wheel drive model with the 2.4-liter engine, which the EPA rates at 23 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined.

The best figures the Ford Escape can manage are identical to the best the Kia has to offer. But the more powerful 2.0-liter EcoBoost is also quite a bit more frugal on gas, so the Escape gets the honors here.

Features and Equipment

You’ll choose between three versions of the Kia Sportage, which are the LX, the EX, and the SX. All are available in either front or all-wheel drive, although you have to go for the SX to get the 2.0-liter turbo engine. Standard equipment is excellent in all trims, and it shows Kia has clung to the one outstanding attribute its vehicles have been able to boast about since day one–excellent value for money. Even base models include a rear wiper and defroster, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, a touchscreen audio system with six speakers, satellite radio, a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity and streaming audio, and a 60/40-split folding back seat with adjustable recline.

The Ford’s three trim levels of S, SE, and Titanium aren’t lacking in standard features either, but base S models do fall a little short of what the Sportage LX offers. But to make the SE and Titanium models a match for their Kia Sportage EX and SX counterparts can mean adding expensive option packages.

Learn More about the Kia Sportage

To get a better compact crossover than these two, you’d have to spend a whole lot more money on a luxury model from a prestige brand. Even then it’s questionable if they’d be better enough to justify the extra expense. When you put these two models head to head, you might expect the Kia to be the more expensive model. In fact, the Ford is more expensive, especially in higher end trims, once you add the options needed to make it a proper match for the Kia. We have no hesitation in recommending the 2017 Kia Sportage over the Ford Escape.