As cars like the Kia Telluride demonstrate, for a vehicle to be successful, it needs to do more than just tick boxes. That’s becoming more and more apparent as automakers drop passenger cars to focus on trucks and SUVs. To replace its entry-level, subcompact Fiesta, Ford introduced the EcoSport crossover. And unfortunately, in this very competitive segment, the Ford EcoSport simply lags behind.
Ford EcoSport specs
The subcompact Ford EcoSport rides on the old Fiesta platform and is perhaps the smallest subcompact crossover available. It’s actually even shorter than the Mazda CX-3. The EcoSport available in one of 4 trims: S, SE, Titanium, and SES. Base prices range from $19,995 for the S to $27,380 for the SES.
The base engine is a 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder, making 123 hp and 125 lb-ft, linked to a 6-speed automatic. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder is optional on all trims, and standard on the SES, developing 166 hp and 149 lb-ft. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available for 2.0-liter-equipped EcoSports.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available but are only standard on the $23,450 SE trim and above. The SE and higher trims can also get a cold-weather package, Autotrader reports, which adds a heated steering wheel and mirrors.
The S trim also doesn’t get the new 8” touchscreen, Car and Driver reports, or the rear parking sensors. In addition, the S can’t even option certain driver-assistance features, like rear cross-traffic alert. However, a WiFi hotspot is available on all trims, as are 60/40 folding rear seats.
What makes the Ford EcoSport a car to avoid?
To be fair, the Ford EcoSport does have some positives attributes.
Consumer Reports and CarComplaints report reliability is excellent. Motor Trend reports the EcoSport handles better than expected for such an inexpensive crossover. In addition, although the EcoSport is perhaps the smallest subcompact crossover on the market, it can also tow the most. With the 2.0-liter, it can tow up to 2000 lbs; with the 1.0-liter, that drops to 1400 lbs.
However, everywhere else, the Ford EcoSport leaves much to be desired. The biggest problem, Autotrader and MT explain, is that the EcoSport was dated even before it came out. Rather like the Ranger, the EcoSport arrived in the middle of a mid-life update. In addition, reports Top Gear, the EcoSport was originally intended for developing markets where ground clearance and low MSRP are extremely important. As such, Ford’s EcoSport is less refined in many ways compared to the competition.
Car and Driver found the ride noisy, and harsh on all but the Titanium and SES trims. And even then, the suspension was too soft, resulting in too much body roll. The EcoSport is also not particularly economical, or fast. The 2.0-liter is actually more fuel-efficient than the 1.0-liter, though neither matched their EPA estimates in Car and Driver’s testing.
0-60 times rarely translate IRL, but even the more-powerful 2.0-liter struggles to get the EcoSport up to highway speeds. And TFLTruck reports the AWD system is best-suited to snowy or icy roads, not actual off-roading.
In addition, although the Ford EcoSport’s interior is decent on lower trims, trims like the Titanium and SES struggle to justify their price premiums. Their interiors are nicer, but other subcompact crossovers’ interiors are still better.
CR recommends the Hyundai Kona, Nissan Rogue Sport, and Subaru Crosstrek for people interested in subcompact crossovers. For those interested in more space, the Rogue Sport and Honda HR-V can handle more cargo than the EcoSport.
Car and Driver reports both the Kona and Rogue Sport are more fuel-efficient than the Ford EcoSport. The Kona was also an MT SUV of the Year finalist, placing ahead of the EcoSport due to interior quality, stronger engines, and better handling. It’s also an IIHS Top Safety Pick, and Edmunds.com called it a ‘standout’ subcompact crossover.
The Kia Soul is also an excellent EcoSport alternative, Car and Driver reports. It’s not exactly a crossover, and it doesn’t offer AWD. But it has more power than the EcoSport while being more stylish and cheaper. It also scored higher in CR’s testing.
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