Ford EcoSport 2018-2022: pros and cons, common problems

By Vlad Samarin, February 12, 2024
Ford EcoSport Ford EcoSport. Photo: Ford
The Ford EcoSport is a small crossover. It offers a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder turbo engine with front wheel-drive or 2.0-liter 4-cylinder naturally-aspirated (non-turbo) engine with all-wheel drive. The only transmission choice is a 6-speed automatic. What is unique, is that the EcoSport's tailgate doesn't swing up, but opens to the left. On the road, the EcoSport is nimble and maneuverable, but the ride is on the firm side. Let's start with pros and cons.

  • Compact size makes the EcoSport nimble and easy to maneuver or park.
  • The 1.0-liter engine delivers pretty good fuel economy.
  • The 2.0-liter engine is simple and generally reliable.
  • Available with all-wheel drive (with the 2.0-liter engine).
  • Nicely done interior with comfortable front seats and many features.
  • Easy to use infotainment system with smartphone integration.
  • Versatile cargo area with folding rear seats.
  • The EcoSport is competitively priced within its segment.

Cons:

  • Long-term reliability of a 1.0-liter turbo engine is questionable. If it fails, it will also be expensive to replace.
  • The interior materials lacks refinement found in some competitors in the class.
  • The EcoSport's ride is on the firm side making it less isolated to cracks and bumps on the road.
  • Road and wind noise are noticeable at higher speeds.
  • The 1.0-liter engine feels underpowered when passing on the highway.
  • Rear seat space is limited, lacking in legroom. It's more suitable for children.
  • No spare tire, although with the addition of an optional carrier, the spare tire can be mounted to the tailgate.
  • The trunk space is small with rear seats up.
2018-2022 Ford EcoSport common problems: Approximately 250,000 Ford EcoSports were sold in the U.S. and around 21,000 in Canada. No wonder that the overall number of complaints is relatively small. The majority of complaints at the NHTSA website are related to the engine: many owners mention a loss of oil pressure in the 1.0-liter engine often resulting in a complete engine failure. Other problems include exhaust leaks from a flex pipe, failing valve stems and tire pressure sensors, bad thermostat and coolant leaks, issues with door/tailgate locks.
The problem with the oil pump drive belt tensioner in the 1.0-liter engine is mentioned by many owners. If the tensioner fails, it can damage the oil pump belt, disabling the oil pump. A loss of engine oil pressure can result in engine damage or seizure. Ford issues the safety recall 23V-905 to address this problem in December, 2023, although as of the time we were writing this review, parts were not yet available. If you have or want to buy the Ford EcoSport with the 1.0-liter engine, check if this recall have been performed.

Timing Belt in the 1.0L engine: The maintenance schedule for the 2019 Ford EcoSport recommends replacing the timing belt in the 1.0-liter engine every 150,000 miles. The timing belt is also called a "wet belt" because it's built inside the engine and runs in engine oil.
In our view, especially given the issues with the oil pump belt, the timing belt need to be replaced much earlier. It's best to do it as a kit with guides and tensioners, the oil pump belt and related parts.

Summary: Compared to other compact SUVs, the Ford EcoSport is not a bad choice; even the Toyota C-HR and Honda HR-V are not perfect (i.e. CVT transmission issues). The 2.0-liter engine is much better than the 1.0-liter 3-cylinder turbo; we expect that the 1.0-liter engine will need more repairs at higher mileage. Some of these repairs, such as a leaking head gasket or a failed engine will be expensive. Currently, a used 1.0-liter engine is priced over $2,500. The 2.0-liter engine is simple and generally reliable.
The 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine has a timing belt, while the 2.0-liter engine has a timing chain.
If you are buying the Ford EcoSport with the 1.0L engine, an extended powertrain warranty with no limit per claim is a must.
Among competitors, we would highlight the Mazda CX-3, as it has a good engine and a conventional 6-speed automatic transmission.
Related Reviews:
Mazda CX-3 2016-2021
Buick Encore 2013-2023
Honda HR-V 2016-2022
Nissan Kicks 2018-2023
Toyota C-HR 2018-2022

What to look for when buying a used Ford EcoSport: Check the history records and verify that all the recalls have been completed. When checking the car, see if the driver's seat adjustments allow you to find a comfortable position. Check the rear visibility. When starting the car, watch out for rattles and other abnormal noises. Avoid the vehicle if the engine sounds too loud or if there a smoke from the exhaust that smells like a coolant or burning oil. During the test drive, watch out for any warning lights staying on. Watch out for rough shifts of the transmission - all shifting should be smooth. Read also: Signs of automatic transmission problems when test driving a used car. Have the vehicle inspected by an independent mechanic prior to signing the contract . The suspension, steering and AWD system components can only be inspected from underneath when the vehicle is lifted. Check out our guide: How to inspect a used car - illustrated guide.