2019 Kia Niro vs. 2018 Ford Escape

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Niro has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Escape doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Niro (except FE/S Touring) offers optional Autonomous Emergency Braking, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Escape offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

Both the Niro and the Escape have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The Niro comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Escape’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 24,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Niro 5 years and 40,000 miles longer than Ford covers the Escape. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Escape ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Niro’s reliability 37 points higher than the Escape.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Kia vehicles are better in initial quality than Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 9 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked fifth.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia fifth in reliability, above the industry average. With 30 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 16th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ April 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia third in reliability. Ford is ranked 15th.

Engine

The Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 25 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 170) than the Escape’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. The Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 18 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 177) than the Escape’s optional 1.5 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Kia Niro is faster than the Ford Escape:

 

Niro

Escape 4 cyl.

Escape 1.5 Turbo

Zero to 60 MPH

8.9 sec

9.1 sec

9.6 sec

Quarter Mile

16.8 sec

16.9 sec

17.1 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

83 MPH

80.9 MPH

78.6 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Niro gets better fuel mileage than the Escape:

 

 

Niro

Escape

 

FWD

FE

52 city/49 hwy

23 city/30 hwy

1.5 4 cyl. Turbo/Auto

 

LX/EX

51 city/46 hwy

21 city/29 hwy

2.5 4 cyl./Auto

 

Touring

46 city/40 hwy

22 city/31 hwy

2.0 4 cyl. Turbo/Auto

AWD

 

n/a

22 city/28 hwy

1.5 4 cyl. Turbo/Auto

 

 

n/a

20 city/27 hwy

2.0 4 cyl. Turbo/Auto

Regenerative brakes improve the Niro’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Escape doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Kia Niro uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Escape with the 1.5 turbo 4 cyl. engine requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Kia Niro higher (7 out of 10) than the Ford Escape (3 to 5). This means the Niro produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Escape every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The Niro offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Escape doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

Brakes and Stopping

The Niro stops shorter than the Escape:

 

Niro

Escape

 

60 to 0 MPH

122 feet

126 feet

Motor Trend

Suspension and Handling

The Niro Touring handles at .82 G’s, while the Escape Titanium AWD pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Niro Touring executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1 seconds quicker than the Escape SE (27.3 seconds @ .62 average G’s vs. 28.3 seconds @ .55 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Niro’s turning circle is 3.9 feet tighter than the Escape’s (34.8 feet vs. 38.7 feet).

Chassis

The Kia Niro may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 400 to 450 pounds less than the Ford Escape.

The Niro is 6.6 inches shorter than the Escape, making the Niro easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The Niro has 2.2 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Escape (100.9 vs. 98.7).

The Niro has .2 inches more front headroom, .1 inches more front shoulder room, .1 inches more rear headroom and .1 inches more rear legroom than the Escape.

The front step up height for the Niro is 1.3 inches lower than the Escape (15.5” vs. 16.8”). The Niro’s rear step up height is 1.3 inches lower than the Escape’s (16.2” vs. 17.5”).

Cargo Capacity

The Niro’s cargo area is larger than the Escape’s in almost every dimension:

 

Niro

Escape

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

31.8”/64”

33.6”/67”

Max Width

48.2”

45.6”

Min Width

41”

40.4”

Height

36”

34.5”

Ergonomics

The Niro’s standard front power windows open fully with one touch of the switches and its driver’s window also automatically closes, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Escape’s standard power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. Only its driver’s window opens automatically. The Niro EX/S Touring/Touring’s front power windows both open or close with one touch of the switches.

The Niro has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Escape doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

When the Niro with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Escape’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Niro Touring keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Escape doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

The Niro has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Escape SE/SEL/Titanium.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Kia Niro, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Ford Escape isn't recommended.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Niro first among small SUVs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Escape isn’t in the top three in its category.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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