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Under $12,000: Volkswagen Tiguan vs Ford Escape

Are you looking for a deal on a compact SUV? We compare the used Volkswagen Tiguan and used Ford Escape at $12,000 or less.

Used Compact Crossover Showdown

media.vw.com | media.ford.com
media.vw.com | media.ford.com

If you have $12,000 set aside to purchase an SUV, would you get a used Volkswagen Tiguan or used Ford Escape? One is built in Germany, and the other is born in the USA, but they’re very similar in engine power and affordability.

We have a passion for fun-to-drive vehicles, and compact SUVs aren’t always on that list. However, after checking out the Tiguan and Escape, we wouldn’t mind owning either one. Their distinct personalities will cause you to like one over the other, and both would be worthy of being your daily driver.

For under $12,000, you’ll find used 2014 Volkswagen 4Motion Tiguan models with around 70,000 miles. Within the same price you can find a used 2014 Ford Escape AWD SE with approximately 70,000 miles. Let’s lay out some details and help you find out which one is right for you.

Used Volkswagen Tiguan vs Ford Escape Specs

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0L I4 - carsforsale.com
2014 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0L I4 - carsforsale.com

The used Volkswagen Tiguan gives you one engine choice, a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder full of 200 horsepower hooked up to a solid platform that’s light on its feet. With its six-speed automatic and front-wheel or optional four-wheel-drive, 0 to 60 mph arrives quickly at 7.7 seconds. That power, however, comes at a cost in fuel with 20 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

The used Ford Escape comes with an engine option list worthy of a Cheesecake Factory menu. The base engine is a 2.5-liter unassisted 4-cylinder that loudly churns out 168 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. Then, if you choose, you can step up to the 1.6-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder with 178 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Finally, there’s the muscular 2.0-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder that belts out 240 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque.

2014 Ford Escape 1.6L I4 - carsforsale.com
2014 Ford Escape 1.6L I4 - carsforsale.com

Ford Escape gas mileage ranges from 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway for the 2.0-liter. But, of course, heavy use of the accelerator pedal in either the Tiguan or Escape will reward you with 14 to 17 mpg numbers, so be warned.

A bonus for both vehicles is the AWD systems. They work well, although the Tiguan has the ride height for a little more “off-roading,” as if you’re going to do that. Plus, there isn’t a gas mileage penalty for either system. So, although FWD is terrific with these models, AWD will give you more control and confidence on the highway.

Comparing Driving & Performance

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan - media.vw.com
2014 Volkswagen Tiguan - media.vw.com

You wouldn’t be far off in calling the Tiguan and Escape cute. Some would initially call them clown cars based on their size, but that size contains more than enough interior space for your things and assists performance when you’re driving on the road.

With 0-60 times in the 7-second range, the used Volkswagen Tiguan isn’t just a stoplight hero – it also begs to be taken to the corners. Thankfully, even with a five-year-old suspension, cornering will give you up to .81g, which would have been sportscar territory ten years ago.

The Tiguan rides like a German automobile with excellent control, direct steering, and a rock-solid body shared by its Golf brother and Audi cousins. It feels and drives like a sports car and not an SUV. The noise level isn’t Ford quiet, but it’s not hateful. If you find an R-Line, you’ll get 19-inch wheels that look good and provide a firmer ride.

2014 Ford Escape - media.ford.com
2014 Ford Escape - media.ford.com

With the Ford, you’ll need to choose any trim above the Escape S if you want some performance. The Ecoboost engines are sweet and, with their six-speed transmission, they give you decent mpg. Although Ford doesn’t provide you with paddle shifters, you do get buttons on the shifter to shift in sport mode.

The Escape’s suspension does some very good work in the corners while also providing smooth manners on the straight and narrow. Even though this is a Ford, the Escape’s mannerisms, responses, and overall solidity makes it feel like a brother of the VW. It gives up a lot on the interior quality, but the Escape gives up little ground when optioned with the top engines.

The Volkswagen and Ford turbos both come on strong, and you can feel the torque. The power-to-weight ratios plus the horsepower helps you feel good about driving these SUVs in traffic.

Used Volkswagen Tiguan vs Ford Escape Interior

When you open the door and sit down in the Tiguan, you’ll immediately appreciate the way everything looks. Even today, it’s still in styles and of high quality. Buttons feel excellent and soft plastics are on the dash.  Yes, you’ll probably pay just a little more for a Tiguan, but it shows up in the extra attention to detail.

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The Tiguan’s seats are firm and comfortable, plus you get leather if you can find the top trims. Although the Volkswagen Tiguan doesn’t have the peaceful silence of the Ford, its noise level is acceptable for such a sport-oriented vehicle.

One thing the Tiguan lacks is loading space, however. The Tiguan has nearly 12 cu-ft less cargo area than the Escape we’re comparing, which cramps your style if having space behind the seats is essential. The Tiguan has 23.8 cubic feet with passengers or 56.1 cubic feet with the rear seat folded. The Escape has 34.3 and 67.8 cubic feet for a substantial difference in loading capacity. This may be the deciding factor for you.

Although the Ford Escape is full of space for what you can put in it, the interior looks old. In 2015, it may have looked avant-garde with its busy layout and angles, but like many “modern” designs, it just looks dated. The plastics are just on the edge of being acceptable, and there are many confusing placements of buttons. There are a lot of those buttons too. Over a week or two, you should figure everything out, but initially, it’s a user experience disaster. Compared to the Escape, the Tiguan is the well-thought-out and straightforward option.

Even though the VW is more refined, when you sit in the Escape’s very comfortable seats and drive down the road, you’ll love the quiet interior. Sure, it doesn’t have the German form and function, but it’s useable, friendly, and serene. And it’s big. As mentioned, it seems like a Suburban compared to the Tiguan. By comparison, the class leading Honda CR-V is a little bigger, but not much. So, you’ll be happy on the grocery trips or day trips to the mountains with family.

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan - carsforsale.com
2014 Volkswagen Tiguan - carsforsale.com

We haven’t forgotten tech, and yes, these used vehicles have it. Although the used Volkswagen Tiguan has a touchscreen and backup camera, it about ends right there. The used Ford Escape is packed with technology up to the ability to park itself if you can find one optioned with the feature.

2014 Ford Escape - media.ford.com
2014 Ford Escape - media.ford.com

The Escape also has the Sync 3 touchscreen infotainment system. We weren’t a fan of this original system since it was very slow and glitchy, but Ford had a series of software updates over the years that, if applied, would help it out immensely. If you score a Titanium trim, you may even gain integrated navigation.

Available Trims & Features

Used VW Tiguan

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan S - carsforsale.com
2014 Volkswagen Tiguan S - carsforsale.com

S – Starting at the base level, the Tiguan S gets a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, roof rails, a rear camera, an infotainment system, phone interface, and VWs connected car system.

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan SE - carsforsale.com
2014 Volkswagen Tiguan SE - carsforsale.com

SE – The Tiguan SE includes heated front seats, washer nozzles, and 17-inch aluminum wheels.

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL - carsforsale.com
2014 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL - carsforsale.com

SEL – The Tiguan SEL adds a navigation system and a premium audio system.

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line - carsforsale.com
2014 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line - carsforsale.com

R-Line – The loaded R-line has 19-inch wheels, sport suspension, and Xenon adaptive headlights. Inside, the driver and passenger gain 12-way adjustable power leather front seats.

Used Ford Escape

2014 Ford Escape S - carsforsale.com
2014 Ford Escape S - carsforsale.com

S - The base Escape S includes 17-inch steel wheels, an integrated blind-spot mirror, and a keyless entry.

2014 Ford Escape SE - carsforsale.com
2014 Ford Escape SE - carsforsale.com

SE - The Escape SE includes dark tinted rear privacy glass, a power driver’s seat, aluminum wheels, and trim upgrades.

2014 Ford Escape Titanium - carsforsale.com
2014 Ford Escape Titanium - carsforsale.com

Titanium – Titanium models are equipped with leather, automatic climate control, keyless entry with push-button starting, a MyFord Touch infotainment system, and lots more.

How Much Space Do You Need?

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan - media.vw.com
2014 Volkswagen Tiguan - media.vw.com

You can purchase a 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan for $12,000 with reasonable mileage. It’ll have better interior materials and build quality than the Escape. Overall, the Tiguan carries a feeling of solidity that helps it feel more planted in the corners and on the highway. But in the end, we’re talking small degrees and not great leaps of difference between it and the Escape.

One thing that the VW is missing is standard technology and driver assists. A 2014 Ford Escape under $12,000 has that in buckets. It also has greater utility with its larger cargo area. When this is added to its quiet demeanor in everyday driving, you have a winner.

2014 Ford Escape - media.ford.com
2014 Ford Escape - media.ford.com

The truth is, either the Tiguan or Escape will an excellent used SUV. We love the sports car nature of the Tiguan. If that’s your jones, like it is ours, then you’ll want to check it out. But when it comes down to practicality and daily use with a family, the used Ford Escape is our choice.

WINNER: Used Ford Escape

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Steven Mitchell

Steve's first car had pedals, and he's been filled with passion for four wheels ever since. He lives and breathes the car life as a technologist, futurist, and writer while keeping up with the whys, hows, and plans of the automotive industry. His automotive journey began with a fully restored Triumph TR3b that he sadly never appreciated until decades later. Ownerships of X-1/9's, BMW's, an SVT and a Dodge Ram Hemi have given way to the house of Audi Sport. You'll also find him as an endurance athlete on the bike in SoCal, but you'll know he's thinking about cars.

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