2021 Ford EcoSport

2021 Ford EcoSport Review: The Budget Crossover

by Gerhard Horn

The EcoSport has us wondering whether Ford ever expected the compact crossover boom to reach the US. It first debuted in 2012, and while built on a global platform, it was originally only sold in India, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, certain parts of Europe, and South Africa. It was a smashing success in those markets, which is probably why Ford revisited the idea of launching it in the USA in 2016. The crossover mania did, in fact, reach the USA, peaking around 2018, just as the EcoSport was launched locally. While the EcoSport was a revolutionary car back in 2012, it faced a tougher challenge in 2018. The segment had grown significantly and included newer, more modern rivals like the Hyundai Kona, Kia Soul, and Honda HR-V.

The gold standard in this segment is a small-capacity turbocharged four-pot, but the Ford EcoSport is equipped with a turbocharged three-cylinder producing 123 hp. Its engine block is so small, it can actually fit on a piece of A4 paper. If you prefer an old-school engine, a 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated four-pot producing 166 hp is available, and standard on the SES trim. The diminutive base engine is a unique selling point, but the Ford has a few things that count against it, like the sub-standard build quality, lackluster performance, and a suspension setup that doesn't quite work for the subcompact crossover duties it was built for. It's not all bad, though, but is a good infotainment setup, practical size, and available all-wheel-drive enough to redeem it?

2021 Ford EcoSport Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 Ford EcoSport?

The 2021 Ford EcoSport soldiers on with the same mechanics and lineup as last year, but with two new 17-inch wheel options and an Overlander Decal for the SE and Titanium trim. A laminate windshield replaces the acoustic unit, and two new paint colors have been added to the exterior palette, namely Blue Metallic and Luxe Yellow, which replaces 2020's Blue Candy Metallic Tinted Clearcoat and Canyon Ridge.

There is also a new appearance package available to the SE trim, costing an additional $495. Previously, SES models could opt on a Black Appearance package, but this has now been made standard on this trim, as has six-way power adjustment on the driver's seat. Titanium trims now have access to faux leather upholstery. Finally, a cargo cover and package tray are now standard specifications on the SE trim and above.

Pros and Cons

  • Ford's SYNC infotainment is brilliant
  • Elevated driving position
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on most models
  • It's practical for its size
  • All models available with all-wheel-drive
  • Lackluster performance from both engines
  • Passenger space is limited in the rear
  • Fuel consumption is higher than expected
  • The suspension setup is too firm
  • Lacks modern safety features

Best Deals on EcoSport

2021 Ford EcoSport Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
S
1.0L Turbo Inline-3 Gas
2.0L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$20,395
SE
1.0L Turbo Inline-3 Gas
2.0L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$23,960
Titanium
1.0L Turbo Inline-3 Gas
2.0L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$26,895
SES
2.0L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Four-Wheel Drive
$28,155

Ford EcoSport Exterior

The design may be a few years old now, but it still manages to be funky and fresh - kudos to Ford for designing a car that holds up so well in a segment where style often counts for much more than function. Each model in the line-up was designed to serve a specific purpose, and their various exteriors reflect that. The S is a no-nonsense entry-level model, equipped with a black beltline molding, black door handles, halogen headlights, and 16-inch alloy wheels.

The SE model has a silver-painted grille, black roof rails, and fog lights, while the Titanium gets larger 17-inch wheels, a chrome grille and beltline molding, as well as silver roof rails. On SE, Titanium, and SES models, the halogen headlights also feature LED daytime running lights and a power moonroof is made standard. The SES gets a blacked-out grille and bespoke black-painted aluminum wheels.

2021 Ford EcoSport Front Angle View Ford
2021 Ford EcoSport Rear Angle View Ford
2021 Ford EcoSport Front View Driving Ford
See All 2021 Ford EcoSport Exterior Photos

Dimensions

As far as dimensions go, the EcoSport is pretty tiny. It has a 99.2-inch wheelbase, 161.3-inch total length, and a height of 64.8 inches. That makes it one of the smaller competitors in the segment, but it's worth pointing out that it was one of the original subcompact SUVs. The Chevrolet Trax, Buick Encore, and Honda HR-V best demonstrate the size difference in the segment, as these have a wheelbase that's more than an inch longer. Wheelbase size has a dramatic impact on interior space, as we shall see shortly.

The EcoSport's width of 71.9 inches is on par in the segment. The EcoSport has the highest ground clearance in the segment, though, rated at 7.9 inches. The lightest model weighs in at 3,021 pounds, while the heaviest model tips the scales at 3,300 lbs. These figures are also on par within the segment.

  • Length 161.3 in
  • Wheelbase 99.2 in
  • Height 64.8 in
  • Max Width 69.5 in
  • Front Width 59.8 in
  • Rear Width 59.7 in
  • Curb Weight 3,020.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

For 2021, the EcoSport is available in ten exterior colors with some hues specific to trim level. The colors that are available across the line-up at no extra charge are Smoke, Race Red, Lightning Blue, Blue Metallic, Luxe Yellow, Diamond White, Shadow Black, and Moondust Silver. For the SE and Titanium trims, White Platinum becomes available at $595, while Ruby Red will cost you $395. On the S, SE and Titanium trim lines the blue hues work particularly well.

The SES, which now includes the Black Appearance Package as standard, is only available in Lightning Blue, Blue Metallic, Luxe Yellow, Diamond White, and Moondust Silver. The Diamond White offers a nice contrast to all the black trim, but if you're feeling funky, the Luxe Yellow offers the ultimate extrovert statement.

  • Ruby Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat
  • White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat
  • Smoke Metallic
  • Lightning Blue Metallic
  • Luxe Yellow
  • Blue Metallic
  • Moondust Silver Metallic
  • Diamond White
  • Shadow Black
  • Race Red

EcoSport Performance

Unfortunately, both available engines offer underwhelming performance; you can choose either motor on the first three trims, but the SES can only be had with the bigger motor. The 1.0-liter turbocharged three-pot EcoSport in front-wheel-drive models takes around 11 seconds to sprint to 60 mph with the 123 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque it yields. The upgraded 2.0-liter four-pot ups this to 166 hp and 149 lb-ft and can manage the benchmark sprint in under ten seconds, which isn't particularly impressive either. Back in 2012, this may have been acceptable, but we now live in a world where a similarly-priced Hyundai Kona can sprint to 60 mph in around seven seconds.

Where it does impress is in towing capacity. In a segment where most vehicles don't even have tow ratings, the EcoSport can tow 1,400 lbs in FWD and 2,000 lbs in AWD guise.

2021 Ford EcoSport Front View Driving 1 Ford
2021 Ford EcoSport Rear View Driving Ford
2021 Ford EcoSport Engine Bay Ford

Engine and Transmission

Two engines are available, and though they differ completely in terms of execution, both are decidedly underpowered. The 1.0-liter turbo-three, which is available on all models except the SES, delivers 123 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque. The old-school size-matters 2.0-liter four-banger has slightly more impressive specs at 166 hp and 149 lb-ft.

The turbo-triple is the more modern engine of the two and has won the International Engine of the Year competition numerous times. It's actually quite a nippy engine when used in other Ford products that we don't get in this country, but in the EcoSport, it just feels unable to cope with the weight. It's also starting to show its age in terms of noise and vibration. The 2.0-liter gets off the line a bit quicker, but being naturally aspirated, it has its own drawbacks. The major issue is the lack of low-down torque, which means you really have to step on it to make progress at higher speeds. It is safe to say that both engines are better suited to city duty, rather than long journeys.

At least the six-speed automatic does a good job. It allows the driver to make the most of the underpowered EcoSport, as it's eager to shift down. It also works its way through the gears quickly and smoothly.

  • Engines
    1.0L Turbo Inline-3 Gas, 2.0L Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    4X4, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The EcoSport does have some good handling characteristics, as it's based on the Fiesta. The steering is lifeless and it has no heft to it, but the EcoSport is keen to turn in at low speeds. In and around the city, you might even call it fun. At higher speeds, and on broken surfaces, the EcoSport is less fun. It softly sprung, which sounds ideal for an SUV, but it's a bit too soft. Over rougher surfaces, it never feels 100% settled. The softer setup also means the body leans more through corners. The soft setup has no problems coping with larger bumps, however. Given how it will mostly be used, we would have preferred a more balanced setup.

Another big annoyance at high speed is the noise. Neither engine is particularly refined, leading to a lot of engine noise intruding into the cabin. The other decent carry-over from the Fiesta is the braking system. It does a good job, but nothing more than what we've come to expect from this segment. When it comes to ride and handling, the EcoSport can't hide its age. All of its newer rivals offer a better driving experience.

EcoSport Gas Mileage

Yet another department where the Ford EcoSport struggles to hide its age is in terms of fuel economy. The 1.0-liter three-pot is no longer the marvel it once was, with an EPA rating of 27/29/28 miles per gallon for city/highway/combined, it's nowhere near segment-leading. The Chevrolet Trax, which also makes use of an aging engine, is its closest rival, with an EPA gas mileage figure of 26/31/28 in its most efficient FWD layout. Oddly, it's the Honda HR-V, which also uses a naturally aspirated four-pot, that really demonstrates how far behind the Ford has fallen. In FWD guise, the HR-V returns 28/34/30 mpg. This is mostly due to its CVT transmission. The 2.0-liter engine on the Ford EcoSport offers even worse mpg ratings, with EPA figures of 23/29/25 mpg.

With a 13.8-gallon gas tank, the EcoSport has a 386-mile range for base EcoBoost engine and 345 miles for the 2.0-liter motor.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    13.8 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 27/29 mpg
* 2021 Ford EcoSport S FWD

EcoSport Interior

Fortunately for Ford, it has kept the interior of the EcoSport up to date, even though it doesn't evoke any sort of emotional response. The layout is logical, rather than funky or fresh, and there are no stand-out features you can point to that makes it stand out amongst its competitors. Quality isn't on par with what's currently being done in this segment either. It's perfectly acceptable on the base car, which costs less than $20,000, but once you go above that it just doesn't cut it.

We'll concede that it does feel solid, and that certainly plays a big role. Inspect it closer and you'll note the dated-looking infotainment system and air conditioning, as well as the hard, rough plastics used throughout the interior. The EcoSport scores some points back by being quite spacious. There's loads of room for the driver and four passengers, and the seats offer adequate support.

2021 Ford EcoSport Dashboard Ford
2021 Ford EcoSport Infotainment System Ford
2021 Ford EcoSport Shifter Ford
See All 2021 Ford EcoSport Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

As a subcompact crossover, the EcoSport was never going to be acceptable transportation for five fully-grown adults. With the 36.7 inches of legroom and 37.5 inches of headroom in the back, it was always going to be at its best with four people over short distances. Up front, it's nice and spacious. The driver and front passenger get 42.9 inches of legroom and 39.6 inches of headroom. It's best to keep the rear seat for kids to avoid complaints.

The seats in the EcoSport are adequately comfortable, and support the body in all the right places. It's easy to find a suitable driving position across the range, whether adjusting the seat manually or electronically. The EcoSport is taller than most of the other cars in the segment, which gives it an edge when it comes to visibility.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 42.9 in
  • Front Head Room 39.6 in
  • Rear Leg Room 36.7 in
  • Rear Head Room 37.5 in

Interior Colors and Materials

Medium Light Stone cloth is the only available upholstery option on the entry-level S. Its steering wheel is made of urethane, but it is equipped with audio controls for the dated infotainment system. The rest of the models in the range have leather-clad steering wheels, and the SES adds chrome inserts and unique stitching as well. A leather-wrapped shift knob is standard on every model but the S.

The SE adds an Ebony Black cloth option, as well as an Ebony Black cloth with Orange Copper accents as part of the SE Appearance Package. This $495 option is worth it, if only because it adds some funk to an otherwise dull interior. A choice between Medium Light Stone and Ebony Black perforated leather is all that's available to the Titanium trim, while the SES offers the ActiveX seats in Ebony Black. Ford says this new synthetic leather is more durable and stain-resistant than normal leather.

EcoSport Trunk and Cargo Space

We have to give credit where credit is due, and the EcoSport most certainly deserves to be praised for its cargo capacity. For a subcompact SUV, it has quite a large trunk. It measures in at 20.9 cubic feet behind the second row, which is comfortably more than the average in this segment. It just goes to show how much planning went into this car when Ford first started designing the EcoSport. With the rear seats folded flat, the EcoSport has 50 cubes of space. The front passenger seat can fold flat as well, for the odd occasion when you need to transport something lengthy.

You can also tell that Ford has been building MPVs for a while because the EcoSport has loads of storage spaces throughout the cabin. These include a sunglasses holder, center console, large armrest storage, and dual cupholders front and rear.

2021 Ford EcoSport Dashboard 1 Ford
2021 Ford EcoSport Trunk Floor Storage Ford
2021 Ford EcoSport Luggage Space Ford

EcoSport Infotainment and Features

Features

The basic S trim offers the bare necessities, with a little bit extra. As standard, you get a multi-function steering wheel with audio controls, a rearview camera, keyless entry with remote start, daytime running lights, and auto Start-Stop technology. It also has manual air conditioning, two smart-charging USB points, and automatic headlamps.

The SE specification adds quite a bit to the mix. It comes with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, Intelligent Access with a push-button start, heated front seats, climate control, and a power moonroof.

The top-spec Titanium and SES share many of the same standard features, but there are subtle differences. They both have an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a heated steering wheel, 110-volt power outlet, ambient lighting, six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and a voice-activated touchscreen navigation system.

The Titanium has chrome door release handles on the inside, while the SES features chrome on the steering wheel. The SES has ActiveX synthetic leather, while the Titanium has perforated leather.

Infotainment

Ford's SYNC system has been available for a while now, and we've seen it develop through its multiple generations. The base S model is equipped with a rather basic version of SYNC with a 4.2-inch color display. It has AM/FM playback, Bluetooth connectivity, a six-speaker sound system, and Wi-Fi hotspot capability for up to 10 devices. The SE adds an eight-inch touchscreen and SYNC 3, but offers an optional seven-speaker upgrade. The seven-speaker setup is standard on the SES, and the SYNC 3 system standard from the SE allows for full smartphone integration, which means it's Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. SiriusXM is also available on these units. The Titanium has a ten-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround sound system.

EcoSport Problems and Reliability

The 2021 Ford EcoSport scored 80 out of a possible 100 marks from J.D. Power, with 83 awarded for quality and reliability. Having said that, there have been three recalls to date, one each in 2018, 2019, and 2020. The 2018 recall was for an incorrect label on the brake fluid cap, which could have resulted in owners pouring the wrong fluid down the wrong pipe. The 2019 recall was for an insufficient front seat frame weld, which could loosen the seatback. In 2020, it was recalled due to a missing airbag module, which could have resulted in an airbag not deploying as it should.

The EcoSport is covered by a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000 powertrain warranty.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles

EcoSport Safety

The NHTSA's review of the Ford EcoSport resulted in a four-out-of-five-stars overall safety rating, while the last IIHS review was in 2018. It was only scored on its head restraints and seats, and the IIHS gave those a "good" rating. It does seem that in this area, the EcoSport is really starting to show its age. There are a number of advanced safety features that you simply can't have.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

The EcoSport range is equipped with a host of the more traditional safety systems we've grown to expect as standard. These include ABS and stability control and an SOS post-crash alert system. In most modern subcompact crossovers, advanced driver's aids are available as paid-for optional extras, or as standard fitment on the high-end model. When it comes to the Ford, they're simply not there. At least the EcoSport has an impressive airbag count. Every model in the range is equipped with ten airbags. What is does get is automatic headlamps, tire pressure monitoring, a reverse sensing system, and blind-spot monitoring from the Titanium trim upwards.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Ford EcoSport a good SUV?

In many ways, the Ford EcoSport feels like a third-world offering, and that's because it is. It started out life as a rugged little SUV for terrible roads and cities in third world countries, but then the subcompact crossover boom hit, and Ford was left without a car to compete in that space. Instead of developing an all-new model, they endowed the EcoSport crossover SUV with everything necessary to legally sell it locally, along with a few other niceties. The result is a car that sits in Ford's line-up like a dollop of mustard would sit on top of chocolate ice cream. It just doesn't fit.

It's slow, not particularly fuel-efficient, handles poorly, and it feels cheap. In a world where the Kia Soul and Hyundai Kona exist, the new Ford EcoSport just doesn't have anything going for it. The only department in which it dominates the competition is trunk space, and that's just not a good enough reason for us to call it a good buy.

🚘What's the Price of the 2021 Ford EcoSport?

The Ford EcoSport is one of the cheaper ways to get into a subcompact SUV. The MSRP of the entry-level model is $20,395, just breaking the $20k mark. The SE model starts at $23,960. The Titanium starts at $26,895, and the SES goes on sale for $28,155. All models except the SES are offered in FWD format as standard. They can be upgraded to AWD by opting for the 2.0-liter motor, which adds an additional $1,450 - $1,595 to the total price, depending on model. These prices do not include Ford's destination charge of $1,245.

2021 Ford EcoSport Models

There are four models in the EcoSport line-up: S, SE, Titanium, and SES. The S, SE, and Titanium, all come standard with Ford's 1.0-liter three-pot, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel-drive is the standard layout on every model except the SES. Upgrading any of the three-cylinder models to all-wheel-drive automatically upgrades the engine to the 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which is standard on SES configurations.

The S is a basic piece of kit. It has 16-inch alloys, remote keyless entry, start-stop, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, cloth seats, four-way manually adjustable driver's seat, single-zone air conditioning, cruise control, hill start assist, and a rearview camera. On the infotainment side, it has an old-school SYNC setup with a 4.2-inch display and a six-speaker sound system.

One step up, the SE model includes LED signature lighting, keyless access, push-button start, heated front seats, single-zone automatic climate control, a power moonroof, and a reverse sensing system. In this model and upwards, an eight-inch touchscreen display takes care of the entertainment. It's fully smartphone compatible, which means you get access to both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Titanium models are equipped with a heated steering wheel, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and ambient LED lights for the interior. On the safety side, it adds blind-spot monitoring. The seats have perforated leather, while the infotainment is upgraded to a ten-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround-sound audio system with built-in navigation.

The SES is aimed at someone with a more active lifestyle or just someone who wants to make a style statement. The Black Appearance Package, which used to be an optional extra, is now standard on this particular model. It includes a black upper hood decal, a black roof, and a black spoiler. On the inside, it adds ActiveX upholstery, which is stain resistant. Finally, this model also gets a sound system upgrade above the base model - it's not the full ten-speaker system you'll find on the Titanium, but it does have seven speakers.

See All 2021 Ford EcoSport Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

There's not much you can add to an EcoSport - on all but the top trim, you can switch out to the bigger 2.0-liter engine and get AWD for anywhere between $1,450 and $1,595. Other than that, the base S can be equipped with a Cargo Management Package ($110), a keyless-entry keypad for $110, or a remote start system for $495.

The SE model can also be equipped with the SE Convenience Package ($1,495), adding blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. On the interior side, it adds navigation, a 110-volt power outlet, and ambient lighting. The big news is the availability of an SE Appearance Package ($495), which includes 17-inch Shadow Silver alloys, a six-way power-adjustable driver seat, orange inserts in the instrument cluster, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and model-specific cloth seats with Orange Copper trim.

On the top-end models, the Titanium and SES models can only be equipped with the Cargo Management Package and the Interior Protection Package. The Black Appearance Package used to be an optional extra for the SES, but it's now standard across the range.

🚗What Ford EcoSport Model Should I Buy?

Since there isn't a lot you can add to an EcoSport from a safety perspective, sticking to the lower end of the range should do the job. The 2.0-liter engine is more powerful, but the 1.0-liter engine is slightly more efficient. For that reason, we'd go with the SE model. Keep in mind that if you do live in a cold-weather state, and you need to upgrade to all-wheel-drive, Ford will automatically fit a 2.0-liter engine to the SE if you select this option. There's a big leap in price between the S and SE ($3,565) but you get a lot in return.

The SE model includes LED signature lighting, keyless access, push-button start, heated front seats, single-zone auto climate control, reverse sensors, and a power moonroof. In this model and upwards, an eight-inch touchscreen display takes care of the entertainment. It's fully smartphone compatible, which means you get access to both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And that's all you really need. We'd still add the SE Appearance Package ($495) to spruce the interior up a bit. The Convenience Package looks alluring, adding blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, seven speakers, a 110-volt power outlet, and ambient lighting, but it costs $1,495. That's a lot of money for not much kit in return.

2021 Ford EcoSport Comparisons

Ford Escape Ford
Chevrolet Trax Chevrolet
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Ford EcoSport123 hp27/29 mpg$20,395
Ford Escape 181 hp27/33 mpg$25,555
Chevrolet Trax 155 hp24/32 mpg$21,400

2021 Ford EcoSport vs Ford Escape

The Escape is here because there is some overlap between the two models. With a mid-$25k MSRP, the entry-level Escape is cheaper than both high-end EcoSport models.

You'd expect the Escape to be a little light on the equipment side, but no. First of all, it easily beats the EcoSport in the engine department. It has a 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine mated to a next-generation eight-speed automatic transmission. It's bigger, faster, more spacious, and a lot more comfortable. The standard kit includes manual air-conditioning, keyless entry, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, pre-collision warning, lane keep assist, pedestrian detection, and a rearview camera. It might not have a large screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but you still get a 4.2-inch infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity. We'd happily give up the large infotainment screen to get a car that's better in every other way.

See Ford Escape Review

2021 Ford EcoSport vs Chevrolet Trax

The Chevrolet Trax is similar to the EcoSport in many ways. It was also one of the first subcompact crossovers. The Trax has a larger 1.4-liter turbocharged four-pot, but it's still no ball of speed. It is faster than the EcoSport, however. The Chevy is also more efficient, as you don't have to work the engine so hard. The EcoSport claws back some ground by offering a larger trunk and an actual tow rating, but the Chevrolet offers more in the way of advanced driver-assist safety features. This is reflected in the Trax's ratings from the NHTSA and IIHS, both of which named it a safe car. The Trax also feels its age, and it also struggles to make a case for itself against more modern rivals like the Hyundai Kona and Kia Soul. Of the two, the Chevrolet is the better car, but when both are up against the entire segment, they fall exceedingly short.

See Chevrolet Trax Review

Ford EcoSport Popular Comparisons

The most popular competitors of 2021 Ford EcoSport:

30
Photos
$20,395 - $28,345
Price Range (MSRP)
Ford EcoSport
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