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The 2021 Ford EcoSport is a subcompact crossover that, like some others in its segment, has not quite found the right finesse to keep pace with the larger crossover SUVs. While the Ford EcoSport is more affordable than the larger Escape, it falls short of some industry standards. It does have good things going for it, such as all-wheel drive being available on any trim level and the user-friendly Sync 3 infotainment system. But there are not that many standard driver aids available, and the ride quality gets bumpy while traveling across almost any road surface. Is it worth the cost? We will let you decide after you read through this review of the 2021 Ford EcoSport.
What's New for 2021?
A few key changes have been made to the 2021 Ford EcoSport. The most obvious changes are the SES's and Titanium's new standard six-way power adjustable driver's seats. Also, the SE trim and every one above it now come with a standard cargo cover and a package tray. Aside from that, only a few design elements on the exterior of the vehicle have been updated for the model year. Everything else from 2020 carries over.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2021 Ford EcoSport – The Pros
1. A Lot of Cargo Space for a Subcompact SUV
The 2021 Ford EcoSport might be a subcompact SUV, but it makes use of what space it has in the cargo area. With 20.9 cubic feet available behind the rear seats, you can easily pack in some groceries or a few pieces of luggage. This number bests the Mazda CX-3 and equals the Jeep Renegade, two of its bigger contenders. If you fold the rear seats down, you get a full 50 cubes of cargo space, and there is a left-hinged tailgate that swings out for easy cargo loading when you're pulled up to a curb.
2. Available All-wheel-drive on Any Trim Level
Regardless of which trim level you decide to buy, you can swap the standard front-wheel drive (FWD) for all-wheel drive (AWD). AWD is a smart move when you live in a climate plagued by inclement weather and need that extra stability and traction control. Note that the sport-themed SES trim level has standard AWD.
3. Standard Smartphone App Integration
While a few automakers still lag behind on standardizing it, Ford has made smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto equipped across the EcoSport line-up. All you need to do is pair your smartphone up with the Sync 3 infotainment system in order to access your favorite apps. Using your phone's navigation app is simple, and you can use it to play your own selection of music.
4. The User-friendly Sync 3 Infotainment System
Speaking of Sync 3, we cannot neglect to mention that it is one of the easiest-to-use infotainment systems on the market right now. The menus are all clearly laid out, and you can use pinch to zoom on the touchscreen display. With Sync 3, you not only get to use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but Amazon Alexa as well. You can also get features like navigation, voice control, and a premium sound system. While the EcoSport has not yet been upgraded to the new Sync 4 (which rolled out in 2020), the Sync 3 should satisfy most EcoSport buyers this year.
5. The Automatic Climate Control System Heats Up Fast
Need your cabin to heat up or cool down quickly? The EcoSport's automatic climate control system can get that job done in a hurry. If you get the heated front seats, those also work to rapidly heat up. The temperature inside of the cabin will stay at the temp you set it at too, so you will not have to fuss with the controls while you are driving.
6. A Quiet Cabin
All in all, the EcoSport's cabin is well muted from noise. The engine can get a little whiny, but that is only when taken out onto the highway. Around town, it does not make much of a fuss. The cabin lets in barely any tire or wind noise. There is no need to crank the volume on your music just to be able to hear it or ask back seat passengers to speak up.
7. The Ease of Finding a Good Driving Position
Sliding into either front seat is easy due to the low ride height, and finding a commanding position in the driver's seat is simple as well. If you get the SES or Titanium, you can now enjoy having a driver's seat that is power adjustable. The tilting and telescoping steering column is adjustable enough so that drivers of any size can find the right spot for it.
8. The Optional Bang & Olufsen Sound System
Music aficionados will delight in the optional Bang & Olufsen premium sound system. It pumps out concert-like quality, allowing you to crank it without causing any distortion. Using its controls is easy to do, too.
9. WiFi Hot-spot Connectivity is Standard
4G LTE WiFi hot-spot connectivity became standard on the 2020 EcoSport, and that is a rarity in this segment. In most cases, this feature gets relegated to higher trim levels or is left as an option altogether. Its standard availability on the EcoSport really serves to boost the vehicle's value and shows just how tech-friendly Ford can be.
10. A Sporty Look on the SE and Above
While it might not be oriented for a sporty performance, the exteriors of the SE, SES, and Titanium trim levels have a chic, athletic demeanor. They get standard roof rails, fog lights, LED daytime running lights, and - on the SES - black exterior styling elements. The SE has body-colored accents, and the Titanium is adorned in chrome. You also get a sunroof on these trim levels, which makes for a nice bonus.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2021 Ford EcoSport – The Cons
1. Minimal Availability of Driver Aids
Aside from being able to opt for blind-spot monitoring starting on the SE's Convenience package, you do not get that many helpful driver aids. Or just many aids at all. Advanced driver aids are becoming the norm for even budget cars right now, so the fact that the EcoSport is almost entirely missing them is troublesome, to say the least. It definitely detracts from the vehicle's value.
2. A Subpar Fuel Economy
We all know that any size of an SUV isn't going to get you the same superb fuel economy you can get on a small sedan or hatchback. But let's be honest, some automakers do a decent job of making their subcompact SUVs fuel-savvy. Ford, unfortunately, has yet to master that on the EcoSport. The FWD version is EPA-rated for 28 mpg combined, but real-world driving tests show that this number is more between 25 and 26 mpg combined. And that really depends on how you drive. The AWD is EPA-rated for about 25 mpg combined, so expect that actual number to be even lower.
3. An Overall Poor Driving Performance
Driving is not the EcoSport's strong suit, and for the price (and for just being a vehicle in general), it should be better. However, the 3-cylinder engine is vastly under-powered, leading to a sluggish acceleration time of 11.4 second to get form 0 to 60 mph. Also, the transmission takes its time shifting between gears, which slows things down more. The handling feels secure enough going around turns, but the tires lack road grip. Steering feels insanely weak, and in order to come to a secure stop, you have to press down hard on the brake.
4. A Choppy Ride Quality On Most Road Surfaces
Ride quality is not what you should be getting on the EcoSport either. Its suspension struggles to smooth out even the most minor of road imperfections. Jitters will reverberate throughout the cabin. One sharp impact will send the EcoSport bouncing.
How it Stacks Up to the Competition:
2021 Ford EcoSport vs. 2021 Honda HR-V
The HR-V has been around a little longer than the EcoSport, and Honda has used that time to get things right. While its engine isn't exactly exciting, the HR-V does a lot better on fuel economy and has a more versatile cargo area. Its infotainment system is not quite as refined, but you get way more standard driver aids with the Honda Sensing suite.
2021 Ford EcoSport vs. 2021 Hyundai Kona
The 2021 Hyundai Kona has options. If you aren't interested in the regular gas-powered engine, there is an EV alternative. But the regular Kona's optional turbocharged engine provides a nice balance between power and fuel efficiency. It also has an engaging drive quality with spunky handling capabilities. And, for the cost, you get loaded up on all kinds of infotainment and safety features. The downside? You won't want to waste your money on the boring base engine.
The 2021 Ford EcoSport has some excellent pieces of technology equipped, but it is lacking in some key areas. The drive performance does not let the EcoSport compete well against rivals like the Kona or HR-V, and its dismal return on fuel will likely drive some buyers away. If Ford wants to compete in the subcompact SUV segment, they are going to need to step up their game for 2022.
• Why buy a 2020 Ford EcoSport? w/ pros vs cons