Should You Take the 2021 Ford EcoSport Off Road?

The 2021 Ford EcoSport might be able to handle a pothole here or there, but it’s not well suited for the trail.
Written by Ethan Moser
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
The 2021
Ford EcoSport
fails to live up to its sporty name. Across the board, its ground clearance, torque, and drivetrain are unsuitable for off-road purposes.
When a truck or SUV can leave the highway and take to the trail, a whole world of possibilities opens up for the adventurous driver. That being said, it’s vital that your rugged-looking SUV can actually walk the walk when it comes to off-roading. 
But how can you be sure that your truck or SUV is trail-ready? 
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Read on—
, the
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, is here to break down the 2021 Ford EcoSport’s off-road rating. Learn about its key specs—from ground clearance and torque to drivetrain and tires—as well as some viable alternatives if the EcoSport doesn’t meet your off-roading needs. 

Can the 2021 Ford EcoSport go off road?

Technically, yes—but we wouldn’t recommend it. Despite its sporty design, the 2021 Ford EcoSport is unsuitable for anything more intense than a pothole-riddled city street or gravel road. 
But for an MSRP of only $20,395, we aren’t surprised that the Ford EcoSport isn’t better equipped to tackle off-road terrain. 
That cool 20 grand does, however, include a 123-horsepower, 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine as a standard feature—with the option to upgrade to a more powerful 160-horsepower I-4 engine. 
So, what exactly makes the EcoSport unfit for off-roading? Let’s take a closer look at some of the SUV’s key specs. 

Ground clearance

Perhaps one of the most important numbers to check out before taking to the trails is your vehicle’s ground clearance. When it comes to the 2021 Ford EcoSport, the SUV boasts a ground clearance of 7.8 inches—making it less than ideal for off-roading. 
As a general rule, you should only go off road in a vehicle with a ground clearance measurement between 8.8 and 10.8 inches. The EcoSport’s clearance is an inch shorter than the low end of that range, increasing the potential of damaging your car’s undercarriage should you go off road. 


The ideal off-road vehicle is going to be a powerful one, both in terms of horsepower and torque. However, when it comes to the latter, low-end torque is preferable. 
Low-end torque refers to high amounts of torque (pound-feet output) at a lower overall rpm. This is necessary while off-roading because power is always going to supersede speed. 
The 2021 Ford EcoSport’s standard 1.0L engine offers a maximum torque of 125 lb-ft @ 6,000 RPM, while the larger 2.0L engine creates 149 lb-ft @ 6,000 RPM. Regardless of the engine choice, the result is the same. The 2021 Ford EcoSport offers a low power output at a relatively high rpm—the opposite of good low-end torque. 


As a standard feature, the 2021 Ford EcoSport comes with a set of P205/60HR16 tires. If that means absolutely nothing to you, here’s a quick breakdown. 
The EcoSport’s tires are approximately 205 millimeters wide with an aspect ratio of 60%. A tire’s aspect ratio is a measurement of the height of its sidewall—the distance from the rim to the tread of the tire. In this case, that would be 60% of the total width, or 123 millimeters
The final piece of the EcoSport’s tire code, HR16, suggests that the tires are designed to be outfitted on a set of 16-inch wheels. While P205/60HR16 tires are all-weather tires, they are not
all-terrain tires
, making them less effective at handling off-road conditions. 


When it comes to off-roading, having all-wheel drive is a must. The standard drivetrain on a 2021 Ford EcoSport, however, is rear-wheel drive. That being said, when drivers upgrade to the EcoSport’s larger I-4 engine, they can also upgrade to all-wheel drive. 
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Off-roading is all about angles—specifically, the approach angle and departure angle. Here’s what each means: 
  • Approach angle: The maximum angle at which a vehicle can climb without interference 
  • Departure angle: The maximum angle at which a vehicle can descend without interference
The 2021 Ford EcoSport really shows its colors as a highway-oriented SUV with respect to its approach and departure angles of 25 and 35 degrees. Sure, that’s enough to handle a bumpy road or a hilly neighborhood, but it’s not going to stack up against serious rocky terrain. 

Off-road rating: In a Pinch

Using our super-technical DIRT classification system,
has determined the 2021 Ford EcoSport’s off-road rating. The DIRT system is broken down in the table below: 
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
Rough and Ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
We give the 2021 Ford EcoSport an I rating—In a Pinch. If equipped with the more powerful I-4 engine and all-wheel drive, the EcoSport should be able to tackle very mild off-road conditions.
However, it’s better suited for the highway when it comes to daily use. If you’re looking for an SUV that can do some serious rock-crawling, we’d suggest looking elsewhere. 

The best off-road alternatives to the 2021 Ford EcoSport

If the 2021 Ford EcoSport really isn’t cutting it when it comes to the off-road SUV of your dreams, here are some great alternative models that are more powerful, more eco-friendly, and give you more bang for your buck.
Best affordable alternative
While the Jeep Renegade Sport is slightly more expensive than the EcoSport, its off-road capabilities far exceed the Ford SUV for only $1,000 more.
Best eco-friendly alternative
The Outlander’s plug-in hybrid powertrain will not only help save you money at the pump, but it’ll also help save the environment!
Best alternative for serious off-roading
Standard all-wheel drive and 415 lb-ft of torque are just the beginning of the Bronco’s top-of-the-line off-road specs, but they’ll come at a price!
MORE:Cheap off-road trucks
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How to find affordable car insurance for off-road vehicles

While off-road vehicles can open up a world of possibilities, they can also open up the possibility of damaging your car in the process. As a result, off-road-capable vehicles tend to be more expensive—not only to purchase but also to insure. 
That being said, you can rest assured that you’re always getting the best deals on car insurance when you shop with
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