2018 Kia Sportage vs Ford Escape

The Sportage is one of Kia's most popular and recognizable models, but it faces stiff competition in its segment from the Ford Escape. Let's see how these two fierce competitors fare in our head-to-head comparison.

2018 Kia Sportage vs Ford Escape

Styling: Kia Sportage


Styling almost always matters with vehicle buyers, but it really matters when it comes to compact crossovers. When the previous generation of the Sportage was unveiled, that design hit the sweet spot for buyers--and the 2018 Kia Sportage has taken that to a whole new level. While the new front fascia might take a little getting used to for some buyers, we're sure buyers will fall for the sporty, unique, and aggressive styling in a big way.

Ford continues to go down an increasingly sporty route with the Escape, and plenty of buyers like that direction. The result of that choice, though, is an Escape that looks more like a tall Focus rather than a smaller Edge or Explorer. Buyers looking for more traditional SUV styling might not be entirely happy with that. The more muscular look of the Sportage gets our vote here then.


Power and Performance: Kia Sportage


The Sportage offers a choice of two engines to buyers. Most models come with a 2.4-liter inline-four that develops 181 horsepower, but buyers opting for the SX Turbo trim level get a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four putting out an impressive 240 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission across the Sportage line, and both front-wheel and all-wheel drive are available.

Ford ups the engine ante with three different engines in the Escape, all of which are four-cylinder units. The base engine develops 168 horsepower, the 1.5-liter turbo offers 179 horsepower, and the most power comes from a 245 horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-four. You won't find huge differences here, but as the standard engine in the Kia is more powerful than two of the three Escape engines, we'll have to give this round to the Sportage.


Features and Equipment: Ford Escape


You won't find a huge variety of Sportage models to choose from--just three--but that's not a problem when these three are as well-equipped as they are. The base LX comes standard with a 5.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a rearview camera, 17-inch alloy wheels, power features and air conditioning, which many will choose to upgrade with either or both of the Technology and Popular Packages. The EX is basically an LX with the Popular Package and more, while the SX Turbo is pretty much fully-loaded.

The most basic Escape S comes standard with power features, a rearview camera, air conditioning, cruise control, 17-inch alloys, an AM/FM/CD sound system with six speakers, and Ford's Sync infotainment control system with a 4.2-inch center screen. You'll get one more trim to choose from in the Ford Escape line than in the Sportage, though.


Fuel Economy: Kia Sportage


To be fair, Kia doesn't particularly target stellar fuel economy with the Sportage. That's a job better left to the hybrid Niro. The Sportage isn't a gas-guzzler by any means though, which is a fact backed-up by best EPA ratings of 23 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined.

It will probably come as a surprise to some then that the best figures the Escape can achieve with its 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine and front-wheel drive are exactly the same as the Sportage at its most frugal. The engine that gives it to you, though, is just the tiniest bit less powerful than the Sportage's too.


Learn More about the Kia Sportage

Perhaps some buyers might not be as in love with the styling of this Sportage as they were with its predecessor, but it's a modern design that makes the Kia instantly recognizable in today's cookie-cutter world of compact crossovers. The Ford Escape is a good crossover, but the 2018 Kia Sportage offers something a little different, and a little better, than the Ford and the rest of the competition, so the Sportage is our choice.

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11 miles, Regular Unleaded I-4 2.4 L/144, MPG City: 23 MPG Hwy: 30***, 4DR, Burnished Copper Exterior, Black Interior, 6-Speed Automatic w/OD
Stock #K7598136
Exterior ColorBurnished Copper
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