2014 Ford Escape vs. 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

Battle of Premium Compact Crossovers

2014 Ford Escape vs. 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

Hyundai and Ford have been battling in the compact crossover (CUV) market for quite some time now. Ford first introduced the Escape in 2000 and Hyundai arrived to the party shortly after in 2004 with the near sub-compact Tucson.

To keep things fresh in a booming segment that’s witnessing an endless barrage of new offerings, Ford introduced an all-new Escape for the 2012 model year. Available in a wide range of configurations with three engine choices, Ford is positioning the Escape to appeal to a diverse crowd in an effort to bolster sales.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Ford Escape Review – Video

Hyundai is taking a similar approach through a different method. The company still offers the value driven, diminutive Tucson, but the Santa Fe Sport now joins it in a quest to win over compact crossover customers. Smaller than the regular Santa Fe, the Sport is better packaged, priced and positioned to take on the stalwarts of the compact CUV segment like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and of course, the Ford Escape.


Get the Flash Player to see this player.


Upscale But Still Mainstream

Unlike a lot of other compact CUVs, the Escape Titanium and Santa Fe Sport Limited can be outfitted with power and equipment levels usually associated with more premium marques. The one thing neither the Ford nor Hyundai do include though is the price associated with a prestigious badge on the grille.


Considering both vehicles start at a base price in the mid-$20,000 range, getting a Santa Fe Sport Limited with the Tech package for $37,625 after destination charges or a Ford Escape Titanium 2.0L Ecoboost AWD for $37,925 may not seem like much of a deal. So what does one get for that price tag?

Two-Liter Turbos

Starting under the hood, both vehicles come with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. In the Ford it develops 240 HP and 270 lb-ft of torque while the Hyundai has a slight edge with 264 HP and 269 lb-ft of torque. The engines are each equipped to a six-speed automatic transmissions with the choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive.


Even though the Escape is down on power compared to the Santa Fe Sport, it feels faster. More than that, the Ford’s drivetrain feels more refined and is smoother in operation than the Hyundai. Power, gear changes and braking all feel well sorted out in the Escape.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Review – Video

In contrast, the Santa Fe Sport’s transmission isn’t really sharp and it’s likely programmed that way to provide more comfort and as much fuel efficiency as possible. There are a few interesting features found inside the Hyundai like the all-wheel drive lock mode and hill descent control. When properly equipped, both vehicles are rated to tow 3,500 lbs.

MPG Surprisingly Similar

Despite the AWD Escape weighing 63 lbs. more at a total weight of 3,769 lbs., it is actually rated to return much better fuel efficiency.  With EPA ratings of 21 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway, the Escape trumps the Santa Fe Sport by 3 MPG city and 4 MPG highway. But, during our real world testing, the gap shrank considerably with the Escape averaging 22.2 MPG compared to the Santa Fe Sport’s average of 22.0 MPG.


With such similar specs in power, transmissions, weight and fuel economy, it’s easy to assume the two crossovers drive alike. But they don’t. Ford designed the Escape Titanium to be a sporty crossover and it shows. The steering is weighted nicely and is very direct in its actions. In fact, you might find the steering too direct for a crossover because the Escape can feel a bit darty on the highway.

SEE ALSO: 2013-2014 Compact Crossover Shootout

In contrast, the Santa Fe Sport Limited has vague steering that sometimes adjusts steering effort at seemingly random times. At least the steering effort can be adjusted through three settings, but nothing really improves its precision.

Compare Specs

2014 Ford Escape
2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
Vehicle 2014 Ford Escape Advantage 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
Engine 2.0-liter turbo four cylinder - 2.0-liter turbo four cylinder
Horsepower 240 hp Santa Fe 264 hp
Max. Torque 270 lb-ft - 269 lb-ft
Fuel Economy 21 MPG city / 28 MPG hwy Escape 18 MPG city / 24 MPG hwy
Observed MPG 22.2 MPG Escape 22.0 MPG
Weight 3,769 lbs. Santa Fe 3,709 lbs.
Front Legroom 43.1” Escape 41.3”
Rear Legroom 36.8” Santa Fe 39.4”
Cargo Capacity Rear Seats Up 34.3 cu. ft. Santa Fe 35.4 cu. ft.
Cargo Capacity Rear Seats Down 68.1 cu. ft. Santa Fe 71.5 cu. ft.
Starting Price $23,505 Escape $25,825
As Tested Price $37,925 - $37,625

Sharp Handling vs. Comfortable Ride


Although both vehicles come equipped with 19-inch wheels, the Escape wears lower profile tires that aid in handling. It doesn’t quite have the responses of some higher priced machinery though and road noise in the Ford is worse than found in the Hyundai.

The Santa Fe Sport’s handling is bit on the soft side, which is perfect for those with families or who always have passengers in the car. Even if the Escape does offer an overall more premium driving experience, it’s obvious the Santa Fe Sport has been designed from the get-go with passengers in mind.

Spacious vs. Cramped


This is most evident in the back seat area of the Hyundai. The rear seats are heated and the windows are equipped with privacy shades and neither of those features are available on the Escape. Furthermore, the seatbacks recline quite a bit more in the Hyundai and the seats are set on rails for the optimal balance between passenger legroom and cargo space. This only adds to the Santa Fe’s practicality that already features nearly three more inches of rear legroom and an extra cubic foot of cargo space.


Up front the Escape is a bit of a mixed bag. The seats are incredibly comfortable and the leather feels richer than found in the Santa Fe Sport. The dashboard and doors also have richer looking materials, but the overall design is a cluttered mess. There are too many shapes, materials and finishes that create a feeling of claustrophobia in an already cramped interior.

The Escape does feature a power lift tail-gate unlike the Hyundai and an 112V plug. But, this nice materials and finishes found up front in the Escape are absent in the back as they’re replaced but chintzy hard plastics.

Options vs. Options

The materials in the Hyundai are a nice blend and the design of the cabin doesn’t give off the same cluttered feel as the Escape. The added Technology package includes a 550-watt Infinity sound system and an eight-inch touch-screen navigation system that we found much easier to operate than MyFord Touch. As well, the panoramic sunroof is far bigger than in the Escape and there are a few comfort features that the Ford doesn’t offer, like cooled seats and a heated steering wheel.


The Verdict

The answer to which vehicle is the better premium crossover comes down to personal priorities. The Escape offers a more refined driving experience and sportier appearance, while the Santa Fe Sport is the more comfortable and enjoyable place to be for all passengers. With compact crossovers core missions being all about transporting people and cargo, the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is the better choice for those looking for a well-equipped compact crossover without the premium price.

2014 Ford Escape Titanium

2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Limited

  • cam

    keep buying those hyundai’s!. thats what keeps me busy all day repairing them.
    All of these car rating sites keep giving hyundai better ratings than honda , ford and everytghing else.
    they forget to mention that the mechanical issues are horrible , stupid repairs and low km longevity.
    1/2 my repairs are hyundai and kia.

« Back

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.


2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked