When looking for a subcompact crossover SUV, Ford and Chevy offer two great options in the segment. Both car manufacturers are known for their emphasis on safety features and modern tech for the whole family. This is, after all, the underpinnings of the modern family SUV, and no one knows this better than two of the biggest automakers in the country. So let’s take a look at the two offerings from these companies, as your search for a subcompact SUV is likely to come down to this: 2020 Ford EcoSport vs 2020 Chevy Trax.
With these two SUVs, you’ll find there are a lot of similarities and some notable differences. Depending on your lifestyle and your family’s needs, one might be the obvious choice over the other, so it’s important to pay close attention to the details in this segment. Both are fun cars to drive and offer excellent fuel efficiency. Both have room for five passengers and provide functional cargo space. Both have impressive safety features and many standard options. And both are reasonably priced for your budget. Let’s take a spin through the details and see which one should be at the top of your list.
Cargo and Passenger Space
One of the biggest concerns with buying in the subcompact segment can be the space. There are a lot of advantages to having a subcompact SUV, such as ease of parking and excellent gas mileage, but sometimes space can be an issue. But what if you were able to find a brand-new SUV that started under $22,000 and had sufficient space for your passengers and cargo? That’s the beauty of shopping in this segment—it is possible to have it all at a budget-friendly price.
The Trax is a larger vehicle than the EcoSport, but this does not always translate to more passenger space. In the EcoSport, you will find more room for your passengers. But it’s close. So let’s take a look at how these two vehicles utilize their interior space. The Trax and EcoSport have the same headroom for front-seat passengers, so that’s a wash. The EcoSport offers more legroom, however, for front-seat passengers by a couple of inches, and about an inch more for rear-seat passengers. The Trax, conversely, has a slight advantage in the headroom. Again, not by much, so these are both very similar vehicles in terms of interior space. But with the extra legroom, the EcoSport will certainly feel roomier than the Trax.
For cargo space, you want to make sure your SUV will have the space to accommodate your lifestyle and provide the utility your family demands from a vehicle. Both vehicles offer competitive cargo capacity in the segment, with the Ecosport carrying a slight advantage. For the Trax, you will find 18.7 cu.ft of space behind the second row of seats and 48.4 cu.ft. behind the first row. With the Ford EcoSport, you’ll find 20.9 cu.ft. behind the second row and 50 cu.ft. behind the first row. It’s also important to note that the EcoSport has a side-opening rear hatch, which eliminates the possibility of smacking your head on a low-opening liftgate when you are loading up your SUV.
Powertrain Options and Performance
The 2020 Ford EcoSport comes with two different power sources and offers both front- and all-wheel-drive options. Both engines return great fuel-efficiency ratings and offer you the chance to customize the vehicle to your lifestyle. For instance, if you occasionally need to tow, there is an available option that can tow up to 2,000 lb. That’s impressive for a subcompact SUV and a great option if you need the added utility.
A 1.0-liter turbocharged (EcoBoost) inline-3 is the standard engine for the EcoSport. This engine brings 123 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque while boasting 27/29 MPG. The combined fuel economy is 28 MPG. If you need a little more power and want to add all-wheel drive, there is also the option of a 2.0-liter inline-4 with 166 hp and 149 lb-ft of torque. This engine gets a respectable 23/29 MPG, and both engines are paired with a 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmission.
Unfortunately, there are no engine choices for the Chevy Trax. You’ll find the only option to be a 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 with 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive is optional. Fuel economy is relatively good for this engine, with 26/31 MPG (FWD) and 24/29 MPG (AWD).
While the Chevy Trax brings decent power and useful fuel economy, it’s nice to have the option of a more powerful engine. The Ford EcoSport is one of the few in the segment to feature a choice of engines. It’s also one of the most fun to drive. Small SUVs should be fun to drive, and Ford understands this better than anyone. The EcoSport features responsive steering, a tight turning radius, and fun driving manners, making it a joy to drive. The sport-tuned suspension and steering deliver a performance on par with the best-handling subcompacts on the market, such as the Mazda CX-3.
Tech and Safety for the Family
One of the most useful features for vehicles today is the onboard technology that entertains and keeps us safe on the road. Both SUVs have an abundance of this technology available with plenty of options for you to customize your experience. So let’s see what you can expect to find in these modern SUVs. There are advantages and disadvantages to both SUVs. The EcoSport features an 8-inch touchscreen, for example, while the Trax features a 7-inch touchscreen. Both feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and both offer a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.
The EcoSport comes with Ford’s Sync 3 system, which quickly connects with your hand-held devices and features Amazon Alexa and Waze navigation. The EcoSport’s infotainment includes FordPass Connect apps, and for the rear seats, there is a DVD entertainment system. This will be sure to keep your kids happy on long road trips, and the voice-activated navigation will ensure you arrive with no issues. The Trax counters Ford’s system with its own infotainment system, Sync 3, which also allows for smartphone integration and enables the use of apps, music, and text messaging (for up to seven phones).
Both subcompact SUVs feature a host of safety features. The EcoSport brings a Reverse Sensing System, rain-sensing wipers, heated mirrors and steering wheel, blind-spot warning, traction and stability control, and child seat anchors. You’ll also find a parental control system so you can keep track of your kids, and a rear-view camera to cover all of your blind spots. The Trax includes blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors, and forward-collision mitigation/lane-departure warning. Clearly, both manufacturers take safety seriously, and it shows in the multitude of safety options offered for the Trax and EcoSport.
While it is hard to declare a winner, it seems the 2020 Ford EcoSport has a slight edge in this competitive segment. With the choice of a more powerful engine, the EcoSport offers more overall versatility. Plus, it’s one of the best-handling subcompacts on the market, and a joy to drive. As Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett recently stated, Ford’s “passion for great vehicles is stronger than ever.”