2021 Ford Ecosport

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2021
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2020
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
September 20, 2020

Buying tip

The sweet spot is the Ecosport SE with all-wheel drive. Any derivation from there would better served in a different vehicle.

features & specs

S 4WD
S FWD
SE 4WD
MPG
23 city / 29 hwy
MPG
27 city / 29 hwy
MPG
23 city / 29 hwy
MSRP
$21,590
MSRP
$19,995
MSRP
$24,950

The 2021 Ford Ecosport small crossover forsakes its name and doesn’t offer much by way of driving excitement or efficiency.

What kind of crossover is the 2021 Ford Ecosport? What does it compare to?

As Ford’s smallest crossover, the 2021 Ecosport is overshadowed in more ways than one. Not only is it the smallest car in Ford’s lineup, but it’s also the least competitive among rivals such as the Hyundai Venue, Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V, and Toyota C-HR.

Is the 2021 Ford Ecosport a good crossover?

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Our 3.5 TCC Rating would indicate otherwise. That’s below average for a new car on sale, and it’s one of the lowest-rated vehicles for this year. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2021 Ford Ecosport?

Unfortunately, not enough. This year, the Ecosport adds an optional appearance package and drops the leather upholstery on top trims in favor of synthetic leather. Our long-standing gripes go unanswered this year, too: no automatic emergency braking at all, a spartan base model, and sub-standard interior materials.

How much does the 2021 Ford Ecosport cost?

With the Ecosport, Ford offers its usual roster of S, SE, SES, and Titanium trims. It starts at about $20,000 for a base version that’s not very well-equipped and runs up to more than $30,000 for a top-shelf version that doesn’t match rivals in features—or even the Ford Escape across the lot for nearly the same price.

The Ecosport is powered by a 123-horsepower turbo-3 and 6-speed automatic transmission when equipped with front-wheel drive. Upgrading to all-wheel drive subs in a 166-hp inline-4, but that power is zapped by a bloated curb weight. It’s not fun to drive, nor is it charming by small-car standards. Fuel economy isn’t as good as it should be either: up to 28 mpg combined, which isn’t as good as the bigger Escape that offers more power and more room.

The interior is a mishmash of materials and low-cost surfaces that’s compounded by budget upholstery and uncomfortable seat bottoms. The Ecosport’s 20.9 cubic feet of room behind the second row is good for small cars, but a high load floor and side-swinging rear gate aren’t ideal.

Federal crash-testers haven’t been kind in their ratings and the IIHS hasn’t rated it at all. Ford doesn’t offer automatic emergency braking on the Ecosport at all, and it’s one of few new cars on the road today that doesn’t offer the life-saving tech. Tsk.

The news doesn’t get much better inside: Base Ecosport S models hit a low price by offering lowly features including a puny 4.2-inch infotainment display, 16-inch wheels, thin cloth upholstery and, again, no active safety features.

The Ecosport SE is where we suggest buyers start and stop. It adds an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with smartphone software, upgraded cloth upholstery, and more available options. Opting up for an Ecosport SES or Titanium only begs the question: Why not buy an Escape instead?

Where is the Ford Ecosport made?

Ford assembles the Ecosport in Chennai, India.

3

2021 Ford Ecosport

Styling

We’re confused with the Ecosport, and it looks like it’s confused too.

Is the Ford Ecosport a good-looking car?

No. And it doesn’t help that it competes against crossovers that wear better budget duds than anything we’ve found at off-the-rack department stores either.

The Ecosport was old even when it was new. It’s a 3 for a scattered look that never comes together.

Fault doesn’t lie with the Ecosport’s tall proportions. We’ve seen better hatchbacks on stilts before, even across the Ford showroom in the Escape. Its short overhangs and narrow body are at odds with each other, and a truncated rear end looks like it was inelegantly taken out at its knees.

Inside, the Ecosport has a hodgepodge of materials and finishes, but all skew toward awkward. Ford’s plunked parts from other cars in the Ecosport without scaling down many of the details, which is a small-car sin. The Ecosport SES and Titanium offer some relief from cheap-feeling materials, but it’s not hard to see past the synthetic leathers and glossy plastics to realize that the Ecosport is a modest car built to a rather immodest price.

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3

2021 Ford Ecosport

Performance

Far from quick, the Ecosport’s better around town at city speeds.

Perky engines are overburdened by the Ecosport’s considerable curb weight. The acceleration is leisurely and so is the steering. It’s a 3 for performance.

Is the Ford Ecosport 4WD?

Ford offers all-wheel drive on the Ecosport, provided you opt for a bigger engine. All-wheel drive is available on S and SE trims, and standard on SES and Titanium models.

How fast is the Ford Ecosport?

Not as fast as it should be. Front-wheel-drive models are powered by a 123-hp 1.0-liter turbo-3 that’s teamed to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The engine is responsive, and competitors offer similar or less power, but the Ecosport’s base engine is saddled to a 3,000-pound curb weight that’s a veritable boat anchor. Acceleration up to 60 mph happens…eventually. There’s a Sport mode available but like close buttons on elevator doors, we’re not sure either one does much, if anything.

With all-wheel drive, Ford drops in a 166-hp inline-4. The running gear adds 300 pounds to the mini-‘ute’s mighty mass, so any power bump is negated by the extra weight.

The front-drive version is rated to lug up to 1,400 pounds, which is enough for a very small moving trailer. Models with all-wheel drive nudge that up to 2,000 pounds.

Unlike some small crossovers, the Ecosport doesn’t channel any hot-hatch theatrics in its small body. The steering feels numb and the ride comfort is only average. It’s relatively nimble around town but lacks any zip to be anything other than just serviceable—a far cry from fun.

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4

2021 Ford Ecosport

Comfort & Quality

Good interior room is somewhat spoiled on sub-par interior materials.

Small crossovers like the Ford Ecosport should be versatile runabouts, scooting from errand to errand and comfortably hauling people and their gear. The Ecosport offers cozy confines for two or more, but it falls down in practicality and quality compared to the crowd. It’s a 4 for comfort based on its good cargo capacity, but lackluster materials and cramped rear seats.

The front seats are thinly padded, and base models are shod in cloth that’s thinner than our favorite well-washed T-shirts.

The rear seats offer moderate leg room at 36.7 inches, and adults will fit in the rear after horse trading with front-seat riders. The doors are small, and the Ecosport won’t easily fit five unless they’re all friends—or more than friends.

Behind the second row, the Ecosport offers 20.9 cubic feet of room for cargo, which expands to 50 with the seats tumbled forward. The Ecosport’s load floor is especially high compared to its competitors, and a side-swinging tailgate could be an issue for cramped garages or tightly parked city streets.

Inside, the Ecosport’s built to a budget and doesn’t bother to hide any of it. The plastics are hard and cheap feeling, the controls and layout were designed by committee, and even the top Titanium trim skips leather this year in favor of synthetic upholstery that’s not convincing for its price. One bright note: The Ecosport is quiet on the road, compared to its class.

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2

2021 Ford Ecosport

Safety

The Ecosport has some crash-test blemishes and lacks active safety features.

How safe is the Ford Ecosport?

Rivals offer more standard safety features than the Ford Ecosport and, while crash-testing isn’t yet fully complete, the smallest Ford crossover falls way down on official scorecards.

Federal testers gave it a four-star overall score, including a relatively rare three-star score for rollover safety in front-drive models. The IIHS hasn’t yet rated the Ecosport. Automatic emergency braking isn’t found anywhere on the Ecosport’s timeline and rear vision is compromised in the small crossover. It’s a 2 for safety.

Blind-spot monitors are available or standard on some trims and help. But the Ecosport’s lack of safety features and low scores fall far from rivals from Honda or Toyota—or just about any other automaker.

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4

2021 Ford Ecosport

Features

Base versions are spartan, but the Ecosport SE offers more of the good stuff.

The 2021 Ecosport’s low entry price of around $20,000 may entice some buyers, but base models lack what other competitors offer as standard equipment. The Ecosport S includes 16-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, two USB ports, and a 4.2-inch display for infotainment. Active safety features aren’t on the menu for any trim and its 3-year/36,000-mile warranty is just average. It’s a 4 for features.

Which Ford Ecosport should I buy?

We recommend the next step up from base, the Ecosport SE. It’s equipped with an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto software, upgraded cloth upholstery, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, and satellite radio. It’s available with more options, including a sport appearance package that’s new this year, upgraded audio, and navigation.

From there, the Ecosport SES adds all-wheel drive, a bigger engine, 17-inch wheels, synthetic leather upholstery, blind-spot monitors, standard premium audio, and a sporty appearance package.

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Ford Ecosport?

The top Ecosport Titanium costs more than $30,000, but it’s hardly a deal. It offers B&O audio, 17-inch wheels, but synthetic leather upholstery instead of real hides, which is new for this year. For that much, we’d steer shoppers to the bigger, more efficient Escape SE Sport hybrid version that costs nearly as much and is more refined.

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5

2021 Ford Ecosport

Fuel Economy

Some vehicles, including the Ford Escape, are more efficient.

Is the Ford Ecosport good on gas?

The 2021 Ford Ecosport is OK on gas, but it should be better. The EPA rates the front-wheel-drive Ecosport at 27 mpg city, 29 highway, 28 combined. That’s a 5 here.

With all-wheel drive, the EPA rates the Ecosport at 23/29/25 mpg.

The bigger Escape manages better fuel economy from all its engines, and that’s before we’ve considered hybrid models that do much, much better.

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$19,995
MSRP based on S FWD
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3.5
Overall
Expert Rating
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Styling 3
Performance 3
Comfort & Quality 4
Safety 2
Features 4
Fuel Economy 5
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