What’s The Difference Between The Ford Escape SE And The SEL?


The Ford Escape is a good family midsize SUV. It has the comfort, space, and tech you need to drive on the road and for light off-roading. 

You will look forward to the next drive with this small SUV, thanks to the wide range of features, drivability, and power. 

Ford Escape is available in four trims; S, SE, SEL, and Titanium. 

The SE and SEL are the middle trim options promising an advanced midsize SUV at a budget price. 

But what is the difference between these two trims?

What’s The Difference Between The Ford Escape SE And The SEL? 

Almost everything about the SE and SEL is the same except that the SEL has a few additional features, such as optional HD Radio, optional premium sound system, standard premium synthetic seats, a standard power liftgate, standard climate control, standard heated front seats, and heated steering wheel, and standard multi-zone AC among others

Most of the features above are optional for the SE, or they are not available. 

The main difference is that the SEL has additional comfort and driver assistance features not available in the SE but the power, towing, and hauling capacity, colors, and dimensions are all the same. 

If you need more than the base trim, the SE will serve you right. 

It costs up to $2,500 cheaper than the SEL. 

However, when you add most of the optional features, the difference in the price of these two trims is less than $1,000. 

Read on to see more differences and similarities between the two models. 

Performance

There is no difference between the performance of the Ford Escape SE and SEL. 

They both run on a 1.5L Turbocharged Inline-3 gas engine that makes 181 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque. 

This engine mates to an eight-speed automatic transmission and comes standard with a front-wheel drivetrain. 

The models have a maximum towing capacity of 2,000 pounds with a curb weight of 3,298 pounds. 

Now that the powertrains are the same, the two trims have the same fuel economy of 30 mpg combined, 28 mpg in the city, and 34 mpg on the highway; which are impressive numbers for a midsize SUV. 

There is an optional engine for the two engines; the 2.0L EcoBoost that makes 250 horsepower and 275 lb-ft or torque. 

This engine can tow up to 3,500 pounds

Their fuel tanks are the same size at 14.8 gallons capacity with a city cruising range of 414.4 miles and a highway cruising range of 503.2 miles. 

Dimensions and Cargo

These two models look the same exteriorly.

They are the same size and even their interior space is the same. 

They are both 180.5 inches long, 66.1 inches tall, and 74.1 inches wide. 

The wheelbase is 106.7 inches and the ground clearance is 7.3 inches high. Inside, the two trims accommodate five passengers. 

Front passengers will enjoy the huge legroom at 42.4 inches with a 40-inch headroom and a 55.2 inches hip room. 

The rear legroom in both SUVs is 40.7 inches, the headroom is 39.3 inches, and the hip room is 53.3 inches. 

These dimensions show that the two trims of the Escape are comfortable for front and rear seats for passengers. 

Behind the rear seats, the Escape can hold up to 37.5 cubic feet of cargo and with the rear seats folded, the two trims can hold up to 65.4 cubic feet of cargo. 

There is a slight difference in the wheels of the two models. 

Both have aluminum wheels, but the SE has 17×7-inch wheels while the SEL has 18×7-inch wheels. 

This difference extends to the tires where the SE has P225/65HR17 for its front and rear tires while the SEL has P225/60HR18 front and rear tires. 

The exterior and interior color options are the same for both models. 

You can choose between agate black metallic, carbonized gray metallic, atlas blue metallic, iced blue silver metallic, oxford white, and iconic silver metallic. 

There are three optional colors for both models, which are stone blue metallic, the rapid red metallic tinted clearcoat, and star white metallic tri-coat. 

Features and Options

There are only a few differences between the SE and SEL in their features and options. 

The SE offers the following:

  • Standard Bluetooth connection
  • Standard satellite radio 
  • Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto 
  • Standard Wi-Fi Hotspot 
  • Standard auxiliary audio input
  • Standard MP3 Player

The SEL offers all the above features but adds an optional HD Radio and an optional premium sound system. 

Inside, both models offer bucket seats, an optional sun/moonroof, and an options navigation system. 

The SEL, however, offers additional features. While the SE has standard cloth seats, the SEL offers premium synthetic seats.

A power liftgate is optional in the SE, but standard in SEL. 

Other features, such as steering wheel audio controls, power mirrors, air conditioning, and cruise control are standard on both models. 

Features such as adaptive cruise control and hands-free liftgate are optional on both models. 

The following features are available for the SE, but standard on the SEL:

  • Power driver seat
  • Remote trunk release
  • Climate control
  • Heated front seats
  • Heated steering wheel 

Safety

Ford offers a long list of standard safety and driver assistance features for the two models. 

Although there are some differences in the features, you cannot set these two models apart based on the safety features. 

Some of the standard safety features offered in both models include:

  • Back-up camera 
  • Cross traffic alert 
  • Blind spot monitoring 
  • Lane departure warning 
  • Lane keeping assist
  • Tire pressure monitoring 
  • Stability control 
  • Traction control 
  • ABS
  • Six airbags for driver, front passenger, and rear passengers

With all these standard features, you are sure to be safe on the road wherever you drive. 

The SEL only adds rear parking aid as a standard feature. 

This feature is optional in the SE, so you can still get it. 

Since these two models have almost the same features and same styling, Ford offers the same warranty for the two. 

If you want more features that the SEL has to offer, then you will need to go for the Ford Escape Titanium. 

If your budget does not allow you to pick the standard SE, there is a base S model that comes at a lower price. 

Which is Better Between the Ford Escape SE and SEL? 

The choice between the Ford Escape SE and SEL should be based on your preferences. 

The styling is the same and so is the cabin space and cargo space. 

If you are willing to spend at least $2,000 more for the few extras, then you can go for the SEL.

If the few extra features are not important to you, you can save your $2,000. 

Better still, because most of the additional features in the SEL are optional on the SE, you can choose the exact features you need for your SE and run with it. 

This way, you never have to pay for features you will never use.

My recommendation is that you take the SE and add the features you need and skip what you do not need. 

You will save a few hundred dollars or even more than $1,000, and you will have a family SUV that you will love. 

What Other Trims Does the Ford Escape Offer?

There are two other trims. 

S is the base trim and the Titanium is the top of the range trim.

The S trim offers the basic features for a comfortable cruise around the city or on the highway.

Some of its features include:

  • Six-way manual driver seat adjustment 
  • Four-way manual front passenger seat adjustment
  • 60-40 split folding second row seats
  • FordPass Connect 
  • Ford SYNC
  • Single-zone manual climate control 
  • 4.2-inch instrument cluster 
  • Manual liftgate
  • Lane keeping assist
  • Dual chrome exhaust tips 
  • Daytime running lights 

It has two engine options; a 1.5L EcoBoost that makes 180 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque and a 2.0L EcoBoost that makes 250 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. 

The more powerful engine can tow up to 3,500 pounds. 

The Titanium offers several comfort features. 

These include:

  • Leather front bucket seats
  • Six-way power adjustable front seats
  • Ambient lighting
  • Active Park Assist 2.0
  • LED Fog lamps
  • Universal garage door opener
  • Black roof rack rails on the side 
  • Auto-dimming rear view mirror 
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control 
  • B&O 10-speaker sound system 

Closing Thoughts

Ford Escape has a wide range of features in all its trims. 

Even if you take the base trim, you will still get a host of features for you and your family. 

The one thing that would determine the best trim for you is your budget and your preference for some features. 

If you are on a tight budget, just pick the SE and enjoy the features it offers. 

If your budget allows, take the extra features in the SEL or go for the creature comforts the Titanium offers.

Whichever trim you choose, you will get attractive styling, great handling, and a host of comfort features.

John Nelson

You can find John stringing a hammock from the back of his SUV to a tree camping in the outdoors most weekends during warmer weather. John loves the outdoors and the freedom four-wheel-drive vehicles offer.

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