2017 Ford Escape vs Jeep Cherokee

2017 Ford Escape vs Jeep Cherokee

Is off-road capability important in two-wheel drive crossovers? That's a question for buyers who are considering models like the 2017 Ford Escape and the Jeep Cherokee, both available with all-wheel drive. But Jeep is Jeep and Ford isn't trying to take over the off-road world--so which of these crossovers is really the better buy? Let's take a look.

2017 Ford Escape vs Jeep Cherokee

Styling

The 2017 Ford Escape is great looking vehicle that has always leaned more towards the sportier side of the styling spectrum. This year's model benefits from a mild mid-cycle refresh that has only further enhanced its lithe, athletic look, especially the front fascia. It might forgo a little utility as a result of its sportiness, but you don't hear many complaints about it.

When it was launched in 2014, the Cherokee represented something of a clean break from traditional Jeep styling. The front is very recognizable and almost futuristic looking, but it's not to everyone's taste so it can be a little polarizing. It's very much crossover rather than small SUV, but the sleek, sporty style of the Escape gets our vote.

Performance and Capability

The performance of the Ford Escape is completely in line with the way it looks. You can choose between three engines, all zippy, fuel efficient, and quite a lot of fun. The 2.0-liter EcoBoost helps the Escape achieve a zero to 60 mph under seven seconds, but the all-wheel drive system is more all-weather than all-road.

Two engines are available in the Cherokee, which are a 184 horsepower inline-four and a 3.2-liter V-6 offering 271 horsepower. You can also choose between three different all-wheel drive systems, so you know the Jeep is serious about going off-road. It's not as agile as the Cherokee, but it's more powerful, hugely better off-road, and it can even tow up to 4,500 pounds, so this section is a win for the Jeep.

Fuel Economy

When all's said and done, because these are compact crossovers most people will expect a decent degree of fuel efficiency. The best EPA-estimated fuel-economy ratings the Ford can manage are from models with the 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine and front-wheel drive, which are 23 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined.

Four-cylinder versions of the Jeep with two-wheel drive aren't too far behind with 21 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 25 combined, but that's not good enough to best the Escape.

Interior

Although the Escape has a relatively small passenger volume at 98.1 cu.-ft., its interior dimensions are all pretty good except perhaps for some leg room in the rear seats. The sporty theme of the exterior is carried through to the interior, so the seats are slim and a little firm. The design and materials are very impressive though, especially at higher trim levels.

The 40.3 inches of second-row leg room in the Cherokee is quite a bit more generous than the 36.8 inches offered by the 2017 Ford Escape, but passengers get more room in the Ford by almost every other measure. Once again, the interior is nicely finished with quality materials, but the extra passenger space and edgier styling of the Escape gives it the decision again here.

Learn More about the Ford Escape

2017 Ford Escape vs Jeep Cherokee

Just how important is off-road capability to you when shopping for a compact crossover? If it's a big deal for you, then the Jeep Cherokee is far and away the better choice--but in almost every other way the Ford Escape is a better vehicle. Although most of us love the idea of having all-wheel drive, the vast majority of these vehicles will never be tested on anything more challenging than a campsite's neatly cut grass. So, if you want the best compact crossover for the urban environment, the Ford Escape is a better option than the Jeep Cherokee.

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