Ford Ecosport Looks To Future
There are big doings at Ford these days, as the car company that’s as American as apple pie retools its lineup to match the evolving tastes of its customer base. In short, it’s out with the old (sedans and four-door hatches) and in with the … well, not exactly new. With the exception of the Mustang coupe, the Blue Oval’s stock-in-trade henceforth shall be trucks, sport-utes and crossovers, all platforms that have long proven highly popular with American buyers. Joining the party as a 2018 model, the all-new Ecosport is an object lesson in Ford’s new corporate plan. A four-door, five-passenger subcompact crossover designed with small (like, say, no more than four, tops) families and singles in mind, Ford’s newest arrival neatly splits the difference between cargo-friendly suburban errand runner and compact urban commuter. There are four trim levels offered — S, SE, SES and Titanium — with prices starting just shy of 20 grand. The S, SE and Titanium are powered by a 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder gas engine that’s rated at 123 horsepower and 125 foot-pounds of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard in these trims. All-wheel drive is reserved for SES models, which get a normally aspirated 2.0-liter inline-four (166 horses, 149 foot-pounds torque) under the hood. A six-speed automatic with button-operated manumatic mode is standard on all models. Base models are fairly well equipped for the coin, and include 16-inch alloy wheels, remote locking and unlocking, automatic headlights, a rearview camera, hill-start assist and more. Ford layers on creature comforts and additional tech as the trim levels rise, topping out with the Titanium, a sample of which was provided for a weeklong consideration. Prices here start at a reasonable $25,740, and include amenities such as leather upholstery, keyless entry and ignition, power moonroof, Bang & Olufsen premium audio, 110-volt power outlet, 17-inch alloy wheels, blind-spot monitoring system, color-matched body cladding, automatic wipers, auto-dimming rearview mirror and more. Our particular tester included a $395 charge for the ruby red paint job and a $995 delivery tab. A $2,750 manufacturer incentive brought the final asking price down to $24,380. That’s a number I suspect will suit the needs and checking accounts of many buyers and represents a fair amount of vehicle for the dollar. True to its calling, the Ecosport is indeed a little thing, measuring roughly a foot-and-a-half shorter than its big brother, the Escape, and sporting a snubbed-off profile that clearly expresses both brand identity and a playful personality. Clearly designed with the competition in mind (think Honda HR-V or Chevy Trax), it’s an attractive alternative to smaller wagons and hatchbacks. The interior is surprisingly roomy for front-seat occupants, who are greeted with an attractively designed dashboard and clearly marked and easy-to-operate readouts and gauges. The 8-inch Sync infotainment LCD touch-screen interface offers crisp and clear information easily readable even with sunglasses on. Bluetooth connectivity is standard, as are a pair of center-stack-located USB ports. The 60/40 split-folding back seats offer enough legroom for smaller kids but are a tight fit for adults. There’s 20.9 cubic feet of cargo room in back, accessible by a cleverly designed side-swinging rear gate; fold the second row and volume swells to 50 cubic feet, which should accommodate most hardware-store runs. As expected for such a small vehicle, handling is quite nimble with excellent steering response. Ride quality is on par with other vehicles in this Lilliputian segment; the suspension system soaks up pavement lumps nicely, and there’s the expected amount of wind noise and road roar. The turbo-three’s unambitious output makes for acceleration best described as leisurely. Sixty mph arrives in roughly 10 seconds and is accompanied by a fair amount of engine buzz. That being said, I suspect the Ecosport will prove quick enough for many buyers. Fuel economy is so-so, with an EPA-estimated 28 mpg in combined driving that’s only two to three mpg better than the larger Escape. 2018 Ford Ecosport Titanium FWD Vehicle type: Four-door, five-passenger subcompact crossover. Base/as-tested prices: $25,740/$24,380. Engine and transmission: 1.0-liter turbocharged gas three-cylinder (123 horsepower, 125 foot-pounds torque), six-speed automatic transmission with select-shift manumatic mode. EPA estimates: 27 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, 28 mpg combined. The good: Nimble handling and solid-feeling chassis; neatly splits the difference between cargo-friendly functionality and urban-friendly dimensions; cute-as-a-button exterior without the Fiat 500 funkiness; attractive and surprisingly roomy front-seat accommodations; lots of premium touches like leather upholstery and premium audio in the top trim level. The bad: Small back seats; would benefit from another 30 horsepower. Bottom line: A solid competitor against the likes of the Honda HR-V and Chevy Trax, and a good choice for small families and singles with cargo-hauling needs.