It’s a battle of the domestic compact SUVs in this 2024 Ford Escape vs. GMC Terrain comparison that picks a clear winner. 

Long-time Competitors Face-Off  

gmc.com | ford.com
gmc.com | ford.com

The compact crossover segment is bursting at the seams with options, almost to the point of being overwhelming. Which is why we’ve put together this 2024 Ford Escape vs. GMC Terrain comparison, so you can start somewhere. Both have been on sale for a long time – more than 20 years for the Ford Escape and well over 10 for the GMC Terrain – and both offer their own spin on how to do the compact SUV best.

Over at Ford, the latest Escape is part of the fourth-generation lineup that arrived in 2020. Unlike so many crossovers, the Terrain included, Ford focuses its Escape on daily driving, commuting, and basically staying on paved surfaces. Yes, it offers AWD, but it doesn’t even pretend to want to go off-road. Updates for 2024 are light after a facelift the prior year, but you can find more details in our Ford Escape review.

GMC has been selling its second-gen Terrain since 2018, which is kind of a long time. A 2022 overhaul brought new style and more features, but for the 2024 Terrain, updates are limited to a couple of new paint color options and a more robust lineup of advanced safety systems. You can find an in-depth review here, but its main differentiator in this Ford Escape vs. GMC Terrain comparison is that it pretends to offer a mild amount of off-road ability.

Specs  

2024 GMC Terrain 1.5L I4 - carsforsale.com
2024 GMC Terrain 1.5L I4 - carsforsale.com

Those who crave simplicity should stick to the 2024 Terrain as it offers a single engine. It’s a turbocharged 1.5L inline-4 that generates 175 horsepower and 203 lb-ft of torque that pairs with a 9-speed automatic to power the front wheels. All-wheel drive is standard on AT4 and Denali models and optional on the rest of the lineup. Fuel economy comes at 26 mpg combined or one less with AWD.

2024 Ford Escape - TheTopher on Youtube
2024 Ford Escape - TheTopher on Youtube

Ford, on the other hand, goes wild with powertrain options. Base Escapes make do with a 1.5L turbocharged inline-3 rated for 180 hp and 199 torques. An available 2.0L turbo four comes in at 250 horses and 280 lb-ft of twist. A 2.5L hybrid setup makes 192 hp and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) option offers 210 horsepower.

Both of the gas engines pair with an 8-speed automatic transmission. While the hybrids work with a CVT and AWD is available, the 2024 Escape is FWD first. As for fuel economy, the Ford kind of trounces the GMC. Base Escapes earn 30 mpg combined in FWD with the far more potent 2.0L powertrain matching the GMC’s rating. Step up to the hybrid and combined fuel economy jumps to 39 mpg, while the PHEV earns 40 mpg combined and can drive 37 miles on electricity alone.

Driving and Performance  

2024 GMC Terrain AT4 - gmc.com
2024 GMC Terrain AT4 - gmc.com

With fully independent suspensions all around, the ride quality of both crossovers in this matchup is similar and tuned for comfort. The GMC AT4 does have an Off-Road driving mode, but aside from a front skid plate, there’s not much here to suggest off-road prowess. It doesn’t even have all-terrain tires.

2024 Ford Escape - ford.com
2024 Ford Escape - ford.com

Something that is quite different between the two is towing capacity. GMC’s Terrain tops out at an unimpressive 1,500 pounds. Hybrid Escapes are equally weak here, but the boosted 1.5L motor pushes that figure to 2,000 pounds, while 2.0L EcoBoost-powered models can handle a useful 3,500 pounds.

It’s also no contest in the acceleration department. The Terrain is unsurprisingly poky with a time of 8.9 seconds. But the Escape in base form is a relative speed demon with a time of 7.7 seconds, while models with the 250-horse setup are straight-up rockets, posting a time of 5.7 seconds.

Comfort and Interior  

2024 GMC Terrain - gmc.com
2024 GMC Terrain - gmc.com

Inside both the Terrain and Escape, there are two rows of seating and room for 5. There is an extra inch of second-row legroom in the Ford and 37 cubic feet of cargo space behind the back seat versus 30 in the GMC. Max cargo room is a closer matchup with the 65 cubes offered in the Escape better than the Terrain by just two.

Cloth and automatic climate control are standard fare in these crossovers with leather available on higher trims. Other optional amenities common to both the Escape and Terrain include a panoramic moonroof and heated front seats. However, on the infotainment and tech front, it’s the Ford all the way.

2024 Ford Escape - ford.com
2024 Ford Escape - ford.com

Ford’s base 8-inch infotainment interface is slightly larger than the 7-inch unit in the base Terrain. But the GMC high-end models top out with an 8-inch screen, while Ford offers a 13.2-inch display. Both automakers fit wireless smartphone mirroring and a Wi-Fi hotspot as standard, but the Escape offers a 10-speaker Bang & Olfusen audio system, while a Bose 7-speaker system is the premium option in the Terrain.

Trims and Features  

2024 Ford Escape ST-Line Elite - ford.com
2024 Ford Escape ST-Line Elite - ford.com

The 2024 Ford Escape ranges in price from a $31,000 Active model to the aptly named Plug-In Hybrid trim for $42,000. Base models feature 17-inch alloy wheels, a power liftgate, and a power-adjustable driver’s seat. Standard advanced safety systems include forward collision mitigation, a lane-keeping system, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic high beams.

The roughly $32,000 Escape ST-Line adds 18-inch rims and a sporty vinyl-cloth upholstery, while the nearly $36,000 ST-Line Select features heat for the side mirrors, front seats, and steering wheel. In the $38,610 Platinum model, 19-inch wheels, a surround-view monitor, connected navigation, and adaptive cruise control are all included.

The ST-Line Elite Escape runs about $40,000, for which you get LED headlights, quilted leather seating, a head-up display, and a self-parking system. The PHEV model is the only Escape with the PHEV powertrain and offers options like a panoramic moonroof, and a fully digital 12.3-inch gauge cluster.

2024 GMC Terrain Denali - gmc.com
2024 GMC Terrain Denali - gmc.com

For a bit more than $30,000, the 2024 GMC Terrain starts out slightly cheaper than the Escape and comes with alloy wheels, full LED exterior lighting, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. But only forward collision mitigation, lane keep assist, and automatic high beams are standard. SLT models cost about $34,000 and feature a hands-free liftgate, 18-inch wheels, and heated front seats.

AT4 models look off-road ready with a front skid plate but really aren’t. However, these nearly $37,000 Terrains do come with blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control. Top-spec Terrain Denali trim costs about $40,000 and comes with 19-inch wheels, loads of chrome trim, two-tone leather upholstery, and a HUD. An SVM and self-parking are optional.

The Verdict  

2024 Ford Escape - ford.com
2024 Ford Escape - ford.com

In this 2024 Ford Escape vs. GMC Terrain matchup, the Escape is the clear winner. It has more powertrains to choose from that are more powerful and it offers dramatically better fuel efficiency in hybrid form. It can tow an extra 2,000 pounds, and has better technology.

Shall I go on? Okay.

There’s more cargo space, a higher level of standard advanced safety nets, and aside from the PHEV variant, it is priced right on top of the Terrain. One thing the GMC does offer is the first scheduled service on the house. Ford does not, but otherwise, they share a 3-year basic warranty and a 5-year powertrain warranty. It’s the Blue Oval all the way here.

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Niel Stender

Niel Stender grew up doing replacement work on his 1990 Cherokee and 1989 Starion, so it’s not surprising that he would put his mechanical engineering degree from the University of New Hampshire to use in the car world as a vehicle dynamics engineer. Now engineering sentence structures, his writing infuses his auto experience with his time in marketing and his sales experience. Writing about cars for close to a decade now, he focuses on some of the more technical mechanical systems that are found under the hood and throughout a vehicle.

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