If you’re interested in a compact or subcompact crossover SUV, then you have quite a few options available to you. Looking at them all, seeing what they each have to offer, and figuring out which one is right for you can be a lot of work, especially with so many choices available. It often helps to narrow things down a bit and just compare a couple at a time, like the 2021 Chevy Trax vs 2021 Ford EcoSport, two of the more popular compact options out there.
Today, I’m going to help you cut through all the marketing and buzz words and look at what these two models really have to offer. I’ll go over their engines and drivetrains, the kind of space they provide for your passengers and cargo, and the features you’ll find inside in terms of both comfort and technology. Since I don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, I can’t give you a guaranteed answer that one is better for you, but I can point you in the right direction. And in the end, you might be surprised at what small crossover is really better for you.
Engines and Drivetrains
Let’s jump in with one of the most important aspects of any vehicle: the engine. In many ways, the engine sets the tone for everything else in an SUV – a powerful engine can make a lackluster interior matter a lot less since you’re busy enjoying the driving experience. The 2021 Chevy Trax has a single engine available, while Ford offers two engines on the 2021 EcoSport.
Chevy’s engine choice is pretty good, if not remarkable: it’s a 1.4L Turbo engine that delivers 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. That’s solid for such a small crossover model, and it makes for a very satisfying driving experience. The starting engine in the Ford EcoSport is a 1.0L EcoBoost engine that provides up to 123 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque, and, as you can see, it’s significantly less powerful than what Chevy has to offer. But the available engine for the EcoSport is a 2.0L I-4 that offers up to 166 hp and up to 149 lb-ft of torque.
That’s a bit more powerful than Chevy’s engine, but not by a huge margin. So if you only want the standard engine, then the Trax is the way to go – but if you pick a model with the upgraded engine, then the EcoSport does come out on top by a bit, with an additional fee attached. Both vehicles come with a 6-speed automatic transmission, and they have front-wheel drive standard with all-wheel drive available.
One of the best reasons to choose a compact or subcompact crossover is to get the functionality of an SUV but with excellent gas mileage. The Chevy Trax gets an estimated 26 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway. The Ford EcoSport, with its standard engine, gets an estimated 27 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway, and with its available engine, the EcoSport only gets an estimated 23 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway. As you can see, the Chevy Trax is a pretty solid winner here, especially when you compare it to the EcoSport’s available engine for city driving. On the highway, the Trax is superior to the EcoSport with either engine, and even a small difference can easily add up in the long run.
Space for Passengers
Both the 2021 Chevy Trax and 2021 Ford EcoSport are two-row crossover models with seating for up to five passengers inside them. In terms of the space they provide, they’re quite comparable. The Trax has 39.6 inches of front headroom and 38.8 inches of rear headroom, with almost 93 cu.ft. of total passenger volume. By comparison, the EcoSport offers about 39.6 inches of front headroom, 37.5 inches of rear headroom, and 91 cu.ft. of total passenger volume. They’re very similar, but the Trax does give you a bit more total space.
Cargo Space Inside
Since these are both compact models, you’re not going to see interior cargo space with them like a midsize or large model offers. That being said, the Chevy Trax has 18.7 cu.ft. of cargo space in the rear, with about 48.4 cu.ft. of total cargo volume behind the front seats. By comparison, the EcoSport offers about 20.9 cu.ft. of rear cargo volume and 50 cu.ft. of total cargo space behind the front row. It’s pretty close, though the EcoSport offers slightly more space.
Luxury and Tech Features
Both of these models have some great options and features inside, though it’s important to remember that this will depend largely on the trim level you choose. The Chevy Trax has two different trims to pick from -the LS and LT – while the Ford EcoSport has four trims – the S, SE, SES, and the Titanium. Since there’s a lot of variation here, let’s look at what you get in their starting trims.
Inside the Trax LS, you’ll find a 7-inch infotainment display, with a 6-speaker sound system and a 3-inch digital driver information display. Cloth seating is standard in the LS, with available cruise control and remote start. The Trax features single-zone climate control, with a steering wheel that includes mounted controls and numerous USB ports you can use.
By comparison, the EcoSport S features a 4.2-inch infotainment display with a 6-speaker sound system and manual air conditioning. It has front carpeted floor mats and 4-way manual front bucket seats, but there’s a clear lack of additional options. Higher trims have great features like a leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic temperature control, and an 8-inch infotainment display, but these aren’t even offered as options for the starting trim.
The prices for these two vehicles will very-much depend on the trim level you’re looking at and any additional options you might want. That being said, the 2021 Chevy Trax starts at $21,400, while the 2021 Ford EcoSport starts at $19,995. So the Trax starts a bit higher, but it also has a superior standard engine and some better features inside, like a larger infotainment display.
Once you start looking at higher trims, then things change dramatically. The Trax LT starts at $23,200, and for that price, you get a lot of great improvements like deluxe cloth/leatherette seating and remote start with remote keyless entry. While the EcoSport SE is similarly priced at $23,450, if you look at the Titanium trim, then it starts at $26,265, while the SES starts at $27,575. That’s a significant increase from where this subcompact crossover started.
One Last Thing to Consider
While car buying has a lot to do with preference, there are some clear indicators that one car may be better than another. One clear indicator is the subsection of desirable features into more expensive trims. While having options is great, sometimes it seems like there is no reason to have a whole bunch of trims that are only adding one or two features.
The Trax eliminates this gradual price hike in order to get the best the vehicle has to offer by narrowing down the vehicle selection to two trims and one engine. While the two engines and four trims of the EcoSport may seem amazing at first, what are you really getting as you go up the trims except for a higher price for almost the same capability and features? My suggestion? Head to your favorite Chevy dealer to see the Trax for yourself because it delivers things the EcoSport just can’t offer.