Crossover & Midsize

You Should Avoid the 2021 Ford EcoSport and Buy a Ford Escape Instead

Subcompact crossover SUVs are currently a popular option, and the 2021 Ford EcoSport is now on the market as a slightly more affordable version of the Ford Escape. Some reviewers, however, have questioned whether the $5,000 price drop really makes the EcoSport the more appealing choice. In fact, Kelley Blue Book asserts that the Escape is “a better vehicle in just about every way.”

So what exactly do you get with each of these SUVs — and why do some reviewers think the Escape is so much better?

What you should know about the 2021 Ford EcoSport

Buyers of the 2021 Ford EcoSport can choose between a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine or a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It comes with an intuitive infotainment system complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and its standard features include SYNC audio, cruise control, and power locks.

If you noted that those standard features are slightly underwhelming, you’re not wrong. Unfortunately, that’s not the only area where the EcoSport lags. With fuel economy estimates of 29 mpg on the highway and an unimpressive 23 mpg in the city, the EcoSport is not particularly eco-friendly — which is perhaps why Ford has needed to stress that its name is actually pronounced “echo sport.”

While this may seem like a minor detail, the counterintuitive pronunciation of EcoSport has actually caused some confusion throughout the years, spawning Reddit threads and news articles questioning the name. In fact, when the vehicle was unveiled in the U.S. in 2016, Ford marketing manager Mike O’Brien told Automotive News that Ford would “have to work really hard” on properly marketing the name to the public.

What will you get with the Ford Escape?

RELATED: Should I Buy a Ford Escape or Chevy Equinox?

The Ford Escape comes with a little less public drama and a lot more features; Ford completely revamped this vehicle for 2020. The Escape offers multiple powertrain options, ranging from a turbocharged 181-hp three-cylinder to a 250-hp four-cylinder engine. While the base S model’s infotainment system is somewhat lacking, all higher trim levels are well-connected and feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Its fuel economy is also decent – it gets 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.

Additionally, the Escape comes with a standard suite of driver-assist features called the Co-Pilot360. Included in this package are automated emergency braking, lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring. It is worth noting, however, that the 2020 Ford Escape has not yet been tested by the NHTSA, and therefore doesn’t have up-to-date safety ratings.

Why reviewers favor the Ford Escape

One of the factors that immediately makes the Ford Escape more appealing than the 2021 Ford EcoSport is its set of standard features. Kelley Blue Book notes that the EcoSport simply can’t compare to its competitors when it comes to driver-assist systems — so while it may have a lower price tag than the Escape, you’re sacrificing quite a bit.

Appearance is another area where the Escape has the edge. Consumer Reports describes the redesigned Escape as “curvier” and more comparable to a raised hatchback. It is less kind to the current model of the EcoSport, which it describes as “diminutive” with “goofy styling.” 

While the 2021 Ford EcoSport handles well on twisting roads, it does have a fairly noisy interior. It is also uncomfortable on rough pavement, and its thick A-pillars inhibit the driver’s view. Consumer Reports found that the Escape was also fun to drive on twisting roads; although similar to the EcoSport, the Escape has thick panels that create some blind spots.

While it’s not without its flaws, the Escape simply has more features, better fuel economy, and a sleeker appearance than the EcoSport. If you’re willing to spend the extra money, opt for the Escape — you’ll be glad you did.