The Ford EcoSport five-passenger crossover has been making waves since 2003… in its native Brazil. One of Ford’s best sellers in that country, as well as Argentina, Venezuela, and Mexico, it often makes South American Best Of Lists. The EcoSport has also been very popular in India and Japan, and in 2018, this international fave finally hit the American automotive market. It’s not hard to see why the U.S. market loves a subcompact crossover; they combine the best of family car gas mileage with the extra storage and higher seats of an SUV while still being easy to maneuver around a crowded parking lot. The 2021 Ford EcoSport has fully settled into its North American groove and may just leave you wondering why you haven’t driven a Ford lately.
What’s in a Name, Anyway?
The 2021 Ford EcoSport comes in four trim levels – the S, SE, SES, and Titanium. Don’t be confused when browsing at your local dealership: while the Titanium is the premium model, the SES actually starts at a higher price. It also comes standard with a black roof, spoiler, and hood decal, among other details. When it comes to the smallest exterior details, the S has black handles, and the upper models’ door handles match their body color. The S and SES have black side mirrors, with the SE’s and Titanium’s are the body color. In addition, the Titanium model has silver roof rack side rails while the SE’s and SES’s are black. Power moonroofs are standard on the upper three models.
For the 2021 Ford EcoSport, the engine options are a 1.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged 4-cylinder and a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. The SES only comes with the 2.0-liter engine and in an all-wheel drive configuration. The main difference between the smaller turbo and the larger naturally aspirated engine is that the turbo has 123 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque at 1,500 RPM, while the traditional 2.0-liter has 166 horses and 149 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 RPM. Will you notice this difference in power and pickup in your everyday driving? Unless you are the most sensitive of drivers: probably not. But it is worth noting that the EcoSport offers more horsepower than most of the competition.
Perhaps of more importance, depending on how much city driving you do, is that the EPA-estimated gas mileage is 27 city/29 highway/28 combined for the smaller and 23 city/29 highway/25 combined for the larger option. The 2.0-liter also comes with Intelligent Four-Wheel Drive, which helps to control acceleration, wheel speed, and other metrics to better adapt to sketchy road conditions, like mud or bad weather. In addition, the 2.0-liter offers 600 pounds more towing capacity at 2,000 pounds to the 1.0-liter’s 1,400 pounds. However, both motors are considered good for Class 1 towing, which covers items like bike racks and kayaks, as well as the smallest of cargo trailers and campers.
Heated front seats are standard on all but the S trim, but the SES and Titanium trims have a 6-way power driver’s seat for added comfort. Both the Titanium and SES have standard ActiveX upholstery, which is a premium fabric with excellent durability and stain resistance. The Titanium model does have perforated seats, where the SES does not. Perforated seats, most often seen on luxury brands, are usually more comfortable whether the temperature is warm or cool and even help to absorb road sounds. However, both trims come with heated steering wheels.
Room is plentiful in the 2021 Ford EcoSport. The driver’s seat offers nearly 40″ of headroom and 43″ of legroom, which places it with other compact SUVs at the top end of this category. There are a couple of inches fewer in both directions in the second row, but nearly 38″ of legroom should also be acceptable for most of your passengers. If you fold away the second-row seats in the 2021 Ford EcoSport, you’ll get 50 cubic feet of cargo space. Even with the backseat in place, there are nearly 21 cubic feet, which equals the average baggage of the five people who can sit in the EcoSport and is more than most other subcompact SUVs. Also noteworthy: the EcoSport back gate opens to the side rather than from the top, making it easier when loading from the sidewalk.
There are also up to dozens of pockets, hooks, and under-floor storage spots inside this compact vehicle, providing places to put all your stuff. With all this interior space, the overall length of the EcoSport is still under 14 feet, the smallest of its class, and it has a turning radius of 35 feet – equal to the average passenger car and much smaller than any SUV, while still having the higher seating of an SUV. When it comes to enjoying your ride, the upper trim levels of the 2021 Ford EcoSport have ambient lighting. This low-level light enhances the front cupholder, door pockets, footwells, and door handles, and it comes in six colors (red, blue, purple, orange, aqua, white, and yellow-green).
When you’re looking to most appreciate the interior sound vs. the noises of the road, it’s worth noting that the SES comes standard with an extra speaker, a choice optional on the SE. The premium Titanium model comes standard with a Bang & Olufsen ten-speaker audio system. All 2021 EcoSports come with a 4G LTE hotspot allowing you to connect up to 10 devices from up to 50 feet outside your vehicle. There are also two fast-charging USB ports and a 12-volt power outlet, so you can keep all those connected devices easily charged.
Ford’s SYNC system lets you connect to your smartphone for streaming music, maps, and hands-free calls and comes standard with every trim. Besides a larger 8″ touchscreen that’s easier to read, the higher trims connect your phone with Ford’s SYNC 3, which has better voice recognition and additional capabilities, like using Waze for real-time traffic advice, finding and paying for parking with FordPass Park, and connecting with you smart home devices through Amazon Alexa. You can add voice-activated navigation to the SE, a feature that comes standard on the Titanium and SES.
When it comes to safety, all 2021 Ford EcoSports come with ten airbags, hill start assist, and Autolamp headlamps with automatic on/off. All but the S trim come with a Reverse Sensing System, and the top two models add a Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert as well as front rain-sensing wipers. LED signature lighting and fog lights are standard on all but the S trim.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the EcoSport a 4-star overall safety rating, which is comparable with many of its peers. If you are looking for a car for your new teenage driver, you may be interested to know that the EcoSport also comes with Ford MyKey technology. This package allows you to control seat belt use, speed, and audio volume, helping to ensure that those who borrow your car – especially those teen drivers – do so as safely as possible.
When you’re looking for a new small SUV, there are lots of options, but the Ford EcoSport outranks the rest based on scores from actual drivers and owners. The EcoSport has only been on the crowded U.S. subcompact crossover market for a few years, but it’s already making a splash. The EcoSport handles very well – while you have the height of an SUV, you also get the handling of a car, letting you remember why driving is so much fun, especially on curves. The Ford Motor Company has been innovating since the Model T, and the EcoSport proves they can keep growing and changing. The EcoSport has the storage and handling you’re looking for. Check it out today!