The Escape (except S) offers optional parking sensors to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or, optionally, in front of the vehicle. The CX-5 doesn’t offer a front parking aid.
The Escape Titanium’s optional driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The CX-5 doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.
Compared to metal, the Escape’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Mazda CX-5 has a metal gas tank.
Both the Escape and the CX-5 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.
There are over 5 times as many Ford dealers as there are Mazda dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Escape’s warranty.
J.D. Power and Associates rated the Escape third among compact suvs in their 2016 Initial Quality Study. The CX-5 isn’t in the top three in its category.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2016 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Ford vehicles are better in initial quality than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 25 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 26th, below the industry average.
The Escape’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 58 more horsepower (245 vs. 187) and 90 lbs.-ft. more torque (275 vs. 185) than the CX-5’s 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.
In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Escape EcoBoost’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The CX-5 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.
The Escape has almost a gallon more fuel capacity than the CX-5 FWD’s standard fuel tank (15.7 vs. 14.8 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.
The Escape has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The CX-5 doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.
For better stopping power the Escape EcoBoost’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the CX-5:
For better traction, the Escape has larger tires than the CX-5 (235/55R17 vs. 225/65R17).
The Escape’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the CX-5’s standard 65 series tires. The Escape’s optional tires have a lower 45 series profile than the CX-5 Grand Touring’s 55 series tires.
The Escape has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The CX-5’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.
The Escape’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The CX-5 doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.
For greater off-road capability the Escape has a greater minimum ground clearance than the CX-5 (7.8 vs. 7.6 inches), allowing the Escape to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.
The front grille of the Escape (except 2.0L ECOBoost) uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The CX-5 doesn’t offer active grille shutters.
The Escape has .2 inches more front headroom, 2.1 inches more front legroom and .4 inches more rear shoulder room than the CX-5.
The Escape has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat up than the CX-5 with its rear seat up (34 vs. 30.9 cubic feet). The Escape has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat folded than the CX-5 with its rear seat folded (68 vs. 59.6 cubic feet).
A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the Escape easier. The Escape’s cargo hatch lift-over height is 27.3 inches, while the CX-5’s liftover is 29.2 inches.
To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Escape Titanium’s cargo door can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The CX-5 doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its cargo door, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.
The Escape Titanium’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The CX-5 doesn’t offer an easy entry system.
The power windows standard on both the Escape and the CX-5 have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Escape is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The CX-5 prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.
The Escape’s optional front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The CX-5’s passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.
In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Escape SE/Titanium’s exterior keypad. The CX-5 doesn’t offer an exterior keypad entry system.
The Escape’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The CX-5’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
The Escape has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. When the ignition turns off, the headlights turn off after a delay timed to allow you to securely get to your front door. The CX-5 only offers an automatic headlight on/off feature as an extra cost option.
Both the Escape and the CX-5 offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Escape has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The CX-5 doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.
The Escape (except S) offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The CX-5 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.
The Escape Titanium’s optional Active Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The CX-5 doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
Consumer Reports® recommends the Ford Escape, based on reliability, safety and performance.
The Ford Escape outsold the Mazda CX-5 by almost three to one during the 2016 model year.