Reviewed byJoe LorioJoe Lorio
The EcoSport is not only Ford's smallest SUV; it's one of the smallest SUVs on the market. It's also inexpensive, starting at just over $20,000. Two engines are available: a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder with front-wheel drive and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that comes with all-wheel drive. Both pair with a six-speed automatic transmission, and neither is particularly economical. The EcoSport's ride is decent, and it's a cinch to park, but some key driver-assist features are missing. Ford's 8-inch infotainment system (on all but the base trim) is modern and easy to use. Front and rear passengers enjoy a raised seating position, although rear-seat knee room is tight, and the cabin is narrow.
Ultra-small size makes it easy to park. Easy-to-use infotainment system. All-wheel drive is available.
Missing some common driver-assist features. Disappointing fuel economy given its size. Base model lacks power.
The 2021 Ford EcoSport is an inexpensive SUV best suited for urban environs, but its fuel economy is unimpressive and rivals are better equipped.
What's New for2021
The former Black Appearance package (black-painted roof, black hood decal, and black spoiler) is now standard on the SES model. A power driver's seat is no longer standard on the SE. Some other equipment has been removed, including the illuminated visor vanity mirrors, the glove box light, and the windshield's acoustic lamination.
Trims and Pricing
The 2021 Ford EcoSport is offered in S, SE, SES, and Titanium trim levels. The SE is the most popular. And that's the one we'd recommend since the base S lacks a full-featured infotainment system. It's tough to justify the extra cost of the higher trims against better-equipped competitors.
With a base price of $21,640 (including a $1,245 destination fee), the EcoSport is affordable but sparsely equipped. Standard equipment includes Bluetooth, air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, power mirrors, power locks with remote, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and a basic radio with a 4.2-inch display.
The SE's ($25,205) additional equipment starts with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The SE also includes a power sunroof, heated seats, roof rails, rear parking sensors, and passive entry with push-button start.
We recommend adding the SE Convenience package ($995) to get blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, navigation, ambient lighting, a seven-speaker audio system, and a 110-volt power outlet. The 2.0-liter, all-wheel-drive powertrain, which we recommend adding, is also optional here for $1,595.
The Titanium ($28,140) upgrades to 17-inch wheels, a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, and leather-trimmed upholstery. It also adds a heated steering wheel, navigation, a power driver's seat, and rain-sensing wipers.
The SES ($29,400) is the only EcoSport trim that comes standard with the 2.0-liter engine and all-wheel drive. It also gets exclusive black exterior styling elements, such as a black roof, black 17-inch wheels, and black trim.
Engine and Performance
Front-wheel-drive versions of the EcoSport use a tiny 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine that makes 123 horsepower. Buyers who upgrade to all-wheel drive (which some competitors don't offer) get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 166 hp. Either one is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Our test vehicle had the 1.0-liter and front-wheel drive. Around town, this tiny engine seems adequate, but it runs out of breath at higher speeds. Although the EcoSport's six-speed automatic makes for less engine droning under acceleration than a continuously variable automatic that's common in small SUVs, it's still noisy.
The EcoSport's chassis tuning is largely agreeable. The ride is more settled than you might expect given the short wheelbase, and the steering weights up pleasantly once you get beyond parking-lot speeds. The SES model has a firmer suspension, but a Hyundai Kona or a Kia Soul would feel more responsive on a winding road.
Despite its diminutive size, the Ford EcoSport's fuel economy is disappointing, particularly on the highway. With the three-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates for the EcoSport are 27 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. The four-cylinder version with all-wheel drive is rated at 23/29 mpg city/highway.
Many larger, more powerful SUVs have better EPA ratings. The front-wheel-drive Toyota RAV4, for instance, gets as much as 28/35 mpg city/highway, with the AWD version just 1 mpg lower. The Ford Escape with FWD returns 28/34 mpg city/highway or 26/31 mpg city/highway with AWD. And hybrid versions of those compact SUVs are even more economical, with the RAV4 hybrid as high as 41/38 mpg city/highway and the Escape hybrid as good as 37/44 mpg city/highway.
Among other subcompact SUVs, the Nissan Kicks is considerably more fuel-efficient at 31/36 mpg city/highway, as is the Hyundai Venue at 30/33 mpg city/highway.
The EcoSport interior design is fairly plain, but its controls are straightforward and easy to use. The front seats are comfortable, with an elevated seating position relative to a hatchback. The rear seat is also comfortably up off the floor. But knee clearance is at a premium, particularly behind a tall driver. And the space really isn't wide enough to sit three across. Visibility is somewhat hindered by the smallish rear windows and by the wide front pillars that flare out at the bottom to meet the upswept rear edges of the hood. For this reason, we recommend springing for the blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert.
The cargo area is accessed via a side-hinged door rather than a liftgate. The rear cargo floor can be set in two different positions: level with the folded rear seatbacks and the cargo door opening or in a slightly lower position that allows for taller cargo. Total luggage volume behind the rear seatbacks is just under 21 cubic feet and 50 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded down, figures that are about average for the class.
Infotainment and Connectivity
All EcoSports, save for the base S model, have an 8-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. On the Titanium and SES, navigation is included, and it can be added to the SE. The system's home screen can show more than one function at once — audio info and phone along with the map, for instance. At the base of the screen, one can select main menu items. Below the screen, there are volume and tuning knobs plus a few more physical buttons for the audio system. All EcoSport models have a Wi-Fi hotspot, and all trims are compatible with FordPass Connect, which allows remote lock and unlocking and vehicle locating via Ford's smartphone app.
The 2021 Ford EcoSport has a four-star (out of five) safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has evaluated only the crashworthiness of the front seats and head restraints in a 2018 model; they were deemed "Good," the top rating.
The EcoSport is one of the few vehicles that does not offer forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking either standard or as an option, nor is lane-keeping assist available. It does have some other driver-assist features, such as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert (optional on the SE, standard on SES and Titanium, not available on the base S).
Ford EcoSport vs. theCompetition
The Ford EcoSport's ultra-small size could be a positive where on-street parking is tough to come by or for buyers with a tight garage. And some rivals (such as the Nissan Kicks, the Toyota C-HR, and the Hyundai Venue) do not offer all-wheel drive. But most competitors are roomier — particularly the Honda HR-V, the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, and the Kia Soul. Nearly all have more driver-assist features, and most get better fuel economy.
Ford EcoSport vs. Chevrolet Trailblazer
Ford EcoSport vs. Honda HR-V
Ford EcoSport vs. Hyundai Venue
Ford EcoSport vs. Kia Soul
Ford EcoSport vs. Nissan Kicks
Ford EcoSport vs. Toyota C-HR
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