Another SUV from Ford
Ford announced some time ago that the future belongs to crossovers and SUV’s and it will downsize its sedan lineup, save Mustang.
So, it is no suprise that the blue oval brand introduced the EcoSport in the sub-compact category. A model originally developed for India and Latin America and a bit outdated (from 2012) is now on sale in North America.
Available in four trim lines ranging from the base S to the midrange SE and SEL, and topping out with the Titanium (our tester). The smallest Ford SUV offers either front-wheel drive or 4WD. FWD models are powered by the 1.0-litre EcoBoost used in the Fiesta. It delivers 123 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 167 lb-ft of torque at 6500 rpm. 4WD versions have a 2.0-litre four cylinder direct-injection gasoline engine, the same 2.0-litre GDI engine used in the base Focus.
Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic.
with models like the SEL getting paddle shifters, blacked out chrome, roof rails, 17-inch wheels and interior accents that match the exterior colour. With up to 30 storage pockets, bins or hooks, Ford expects to offer gthe versatility of an SUV also in mini-format.
For $2,500 you can upgrade to all-wheel-drive paired with a 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated four pushing out 166-hp and 149 lb-ft. Both engines have auto start/stop and are hooked up to a traditional six-speed automatic transmission. The sporty SES gets the AWD/2.0-litre combo as standard kit.
Our tester, in Titanium trim level with the 1.0-litre engine includes 17-inch alloys, rearview camera, auto headlamps, cruise control, hill-start assist, two smart-charging USB ports and Sync interface with a 8-inch screen, moonroof, heated front seats (6-way power driver’s), proximity key with push-button start, auto climate control, reverse sensing, roof rails and the excellent Sync 3 with 6.5 touchscreen — the latter bestowing upon the car Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Sirius XM, Applink, valet mode, HD radio, navigation, blind spot detection, 7-speaker audio, sport-tuned suspension and plus the Titanium package that includes leather, 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, 110-volt inverter, BLIS, rain sensing wipers, ambient lighting and Cold Weather Package (heated mirrors, heated steering wheel, wiper de-icer). The Cold Weather package is available on the SE and SES for $350.
The subcompact crossover segment is growing fast and Ford cannot afford to miss a competitive product against rivals like the Mazda CX-3, Chevy Trax, Buick Encore, Hyundai Kona, Honda HR-V and Jeep Renegade.
Our tester with FWD and the 1.0-litre EcoBoost three-cylinder can almost meet our expectations mainly thanks to its efficient range turbo. The six-speed auto is tuned to keep the engine spinning below 2,000 rpm on light-throttle loads, but it is quick to downshift when you give more push to the pedal.
At the end of our driving cycle, we reached an average comsumption of 9.4 liter, in a mixed mode of highway and city.
For having such a short wheelbase, the EcoSport has a commendably smooth ride, although on asphalt only. Less appealing from the outside with its somewhat aged design, The Ecosport is more attractive once you sit behind the steering wheel. Handling is firm, the steering is responsive and build quality implies more solidity than at first glance.
Outward visibility is a bit compromised due to thick A-pillars. In the rear, it is cramped and even two passengers will not feel in comfort for long rides.
Headroom isn’t too bad, though.
Probably the most annoying feature is the side-hinged “swing gate” with two stop points for access to 592 litres of cargo space behind the second row. There’s a clever tri-level load floor and a big recess molded into the gate. Folding down the second row opens it up to 1416 litres. This volume is still acceptable in the smallest SUV class.
The Ecosport is probably not the best and the cutest in its class. However, it makes business sense to offer an already existing model with minor adaptations to a new and rising market, instead of developing a new product in a class where profit margins are very thin.
Finally, Ford stands for trucks, SUV’s and crossover above anything else.
Article and photos by Varol McKars