Some SUVs are just a tad too large for the city. However, the 2021 Ford EcoSport is sized just right for urban environments. Good cargo space also helps make this compact crossover a practical commuter vehicle. Of course, a lot of drivers will appreciate the EcoSport’s affordability. While the new EcoSport deserves a look, the competition is incredibly stiff. Will this city-friendly SUV meet your expectations? This year, Ford has added a few more standard features to the EcoSport. A Cold weather package is also no longer available for the new 2021 Ford EcoSport.
New Ford Ecosport 2021
Although you can take a road trip in the 2021 Ford EcoSport, it’s an especially good vehicle for metropolitan areas. You will have no trouble maneuvering the EcoSport around crowded city streets. Parking this narrow crossover also doesn’t take a lot of effort. If you live in a snow-prone region, the optional AWD system will make your commute to work a lot more enjoyable. Some drivers will find the base three-cylinder engine to be a bit short on performance. To experience stronger acceleration, step up to the larger four-cylinder engine. It’s rated to produce 166 horsepower and 149 pound-feet of torque. During rush hour, you’ll appreciate the additional boost of performance. Merging onto the freeway and passing will be a lot easier. Along with the extra power comes a standard AWD system.
Cloth seats are available on the EcoSport S and SE trims. Ford’s “ActiveX” synthetic seating is available in the SES model, and perforated, leather-trimmed seats are only available in the EcoSport Titanium. That said, no matter which material you choose, the EcoSport’s seats only come in black or beige. Manual seating is found in the EcoSport S, but SE and higher trims get a 10-way, power-operated driver’s seat and a heated front row. Creature comforts like a leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel are found in the SES and Titanium.
Cargo capacity is greatest with the EcoSport’s second row folded — it’s a sizable 50 cubic feet — but drops to just under 21 cubic feet with all seats upright. The swinging rear hatch makes it simple to access the cargo area without knocking your noggin, but limits access from the driver’s side, or when parallel parked. The EcoSport interior is functional instead of fashionable, which we can appreciate on the cheaper models. Too bad the cabin quality is underwhelming on top trims that cost nearly $30,000. Meanwhile, there’s ample passenger space up front but not so much in back. Compared with the classy cabins of the Kona and the Kia Soul, the tiny Ford’s interior disappoints. The leather-wrapped steering wheel felt rubbery, and most of the plastic surfaces felt hard and hollow. The SES model dresses up things with exclusive leather-and-cloth seats as well as copper-colored trim pieces.
Despite its diminutive size, the EcoSport has competitive cargo space and storage. Most test results were average; the Ford proved itself a useful, albeit compact, travel companion with a few handy tricks. It held fewer carry-on suitcases than the Rogue Sport and the Honda HR-V but had higher capacity than the other similar competitors. The EcoSport has an assortment of interior storage spots, but none are very large. A sealable vent in the glovebox connects with the vehicle’s air conditioner to create a climate-controlled compartment.
The EcoSport line receives minor changes for 2021. An 8.0-inch touchscreen, up from last year’s 6.5 inches, is now included on the SE trim. FordPass Connect, standard on all trims, includes a Wi-Fi hotspot and app connectivity that allows an owner to unlock and lock the vehicle from a smartphone. A subscription service is required to use these features, although a one-year free trial for app connectivity is included.
Don’t be misled by the name: The Ford EcoSport 2021 is neither fuel efficient nor sporty compared with the best subcompact crossovers. It offers the tall seating position and the optional all-wheel drive that many buyers want, at an affordable price, but that’s also true of almost all of its competitors. And just like the smallest cars of yesteryear, it’s slow and the backseat is cramped. While the EcoSport is available with many of the same convenience features as more expensive vehicles, the low-rent interior and ho-hum driving experience reflect the price charged. If you want something more stylish with more polished road manners, check out the Hyundai Kona or Kia Soul. If space is your biggest concern, consider the Nissan Kicks.
Although the 2021 Ford EcoSport may not be the best performer in the class, it still has some clear strong points. Drivers looking to budget their money wisely will like the EcoSport’s attractive pricing. Premium features, such as Ford’s Sync 3 interface and Wi-Fi connectivity, help make the EcoSport a very rewarding commuter vehicle. On the downside, the EcoSport sacrifices some fuel efficiency. When equipped with the base three-cylinder, acceleration is especially weak. Furthermore, blind-spot monitoring is the only advanced driving aid available on the EcoSport. Check out the competition before making a final choice.
A lot of drivers will like the EcoSport’s contemporary styling. From the front, it looks like a more compact version of the Ford Escape. LED signature lighting comes standard on the upper trims. The SES and Titanium models are especially nice. A rear spoiler and blacked-out exterior treatments help give the EcoSport SES a very sporty appearance. Meanwhile, an extra amount of chrome accentuates the Titanium model’s upscale styling. Some of the available paint colors include Canyon Ridge, Blue Candy, and Ruby Red.
Those who believe the “Eco” in EcoSport stands for economical will be disappointed. Neither of the two available engines are inefficient per se; they just lag behind the competition in their EPA estimates and real-world highway fuel economy. Surprisingly, the four-cylinder version performed better on our real-world test than the three-cylinder. We observed 30 mpg with the four-cylinder and 28 with the three-cylinder. However, neither were as efficient as the Hyundai Kona or the Nissan Rogue Sport we tested.
Ford rates the base three-cylinder engine to produce 123 horsepower. A vehicle that weighs in excess of 3,000 pounds needs more muscle under the hood. When accelerating with other passengers inside, the 2021 Ford EcoSport will leave much to be desired. It’ll take you around 11 seconds to hit 60 mph. If you desire a peppier performance, choose the four-cylinder engine.
Whether it has the standard 123-hp turbocharged three-cylinder or the optional 166-hp four-cylinder, the EcoSport is the opposite of quick. Both engines share a dutiful six-speed automatic transmission and—surprisingly—can tow more than most rivals. Having driven these powertrains, we’ve confirmed that straight-line acceleration is not a strong point. Still, both engines felt peppy leaving stoplights and at city speeds. The Ford can tow up to 2000 pounds when equipped with the four-cylinder engine. Even the three-cylinder version can handle as much as 1400 pounds.
Despite its flawed dynamics, the EcoSport has redemptive qualities that even qualify as fun—at times. To be clear, it drives much better at slower speeds. The Ford felt athletic and punchy slicing through busy streets, but its vague steering and noisy ride diminished the experience. While its ride can’t isolate the cabin from rough surfaces, the softly sprung suspension on our Titanium test vehicle effectively cushioned occupants from the harshness. Too bad the spongy shocks and top-heavy demeanor led to unruly body motions. These effects were amplified at higher speeds. The brake pedal on our front-drive Titanium model never felt firm, but it had consistent feedback.
The 2021 Ford EcoSport is priced from $21,090. The EcoSport SE and Titanium will set buyers back $24,450 and $27,360, respectively. While it makes sense to see the Titanium as the top-level trim for the EcoSport, the SES, with its standard all-wheel-drive, actually has the highest base price of $28,475. All prices include a $1,095 destination charge.
- S: $21,580
- SE: $24,545
- Titanium: $27,360
- SES 4WD: $28,475
The spartan EcoSport S is a bare-bones stripper best left to rental fleets. Step up to the SE trim to gain heated front seats, a power driver’s seat, a sunroof, passive entry with push-button start, satellite radio, rear parking sensors, and a touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. All-wheel drive is a $1500 option that also trades the standard turbocharged three-cylinder for a four-cylinder engine. Both engines are painfully slow, so it’s only worth upgrading if you absolutely need the all-wheel drive.
A 1.0-liter turbocharged, in-line-3 remains as the base powerplant for the EcoSport, and is only available with front-wheel drive. Power output for the EcoBoost engine is rated at an acceptable 123 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque.
All-wheel-drive EcoSports are built with Ford’s 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine that puts out a peppier 166 hp and 149 lb.-ft. of torque. All 2021 EcoSport engines are bolted to a six-speed automatic transmission.
All 2021 EcoSports ride on a MacPherson strut front suspension and either a semi-independent rear suspension in the front-wheel-drive versions or a fully independent rear suspension in the all-wheel-drive models. The EcoSport SES is equipped with a “sport-tuned” suspension, which just means it’s ever-so-slightly stiffer than other models.
Owners of the front-wheel-drive EcoSports will have a small advantage over the four-wheel-drive models in urban driving. The EPA-estimated fuel economy for the front-wheel-drive models is 27 miles per gallon city and 28 mpg combined. Both models achieve an estimated 29 mpg highway, but the all-wheel-drive models receive an estimated 23 mpg city and 25 mpg combined.
An 8-inch touchscreen running Sync 3 is standard on SE, SES and Titanium models.
The EcoSport S is the only model to still carry the bare-bones, 4.2-inch multimedia display, while the SE, SES and Titanium are all equipped with an 8-inch touchscreen with Ford’s Sync 3 system.The S model also comes with a version of Sync with voice recognition, but the multimedia system only offers AM/FM radio and a six-speaker audio system.
In the SE, navigation is a $995 option that adds another speaker to the regular audiosystem, blind-spot monitoring and a 110-volt AC power outlet. Blind-spot monitoring is standard on the SES and Titanium models. While features like hill-start assist and parking sensors are available, the EcoSport can not be equipped with adaptive cruise control or automatic emergency braking.
Sync 3-equipped EcoSport SE and SES models come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a five-year prepaid SiriusXM subscription and a seven-speaker audio system. But the Titanium specification swaps that seven-speaker system with a Bang & Olufsen nine-speaker audio system with a subwoofer.
All EcoSports have the ability to connect to a 4G LTE signal and can link up to 10 devices to its Wi-Fi hotspot, which comes with a three-month or 3GB free trial as part of FordPass Connect technology. FordPass Connect also allows for remote starting — a $495 option on all EcoSports — locking and unlocking, vehicle location assistance and vehicle status monitoring.
The EcoSport is one of the smaller offerings in the subcompact segment.
The EcoSport received a four-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration out of a possible five stars. While the Ford lacks advanced driver assists such as automated emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, the features that are available align with most competitors. Key features include:
- Available blind-spot monitoring
- Available rear cross-traffic alert
- Available rear parking sensors
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
The EcoSport’s warranty coverage is strictly average; those who want the best protection available should consider either the Soul or the Kona.
- Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance