The EcoSport will be priced aggressively and will soar out of showrooms on price point and style.
SIMCOE, ON – Unveiled on the auto show circuit late last year, the 2018 Ford EcoSport has technically been sold in many other markets around the world since 2011. Based on the subcompact Fiesta (reviewed here), the EcoSport is all new for Canadians and is Ford’s answer to the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V, and Chevrolet Trax. With more and more Canadians opting to forego their sedans and hatchbacks in favour of these little subcompact crossovers, it’s only fair for Ford to have a slice of the cake. We got a close first look during a media event in Simcoe, ON.
A handsome little thing, the new EcoSport (pronounced “echo sport” as to differentiate it from “EcoBoost”) features similar design cues to the Fiesta and Focus. The grille is unmistakably Ford, looking quite similar to the Edge (reviewed here) crossover. As with other subcompact crossovers, the overhangs are small and proportions, like the Fiesta, make the EcoSport look tall and narrow. The side-hinged tailgate is a cool touch, almost reminiscent of the original Toyota RAV4 or the FJ Cruiser.
There are two available powertrains on the EcoSport, though Ford isn’t revealing exact power numbers at this time. The more interesting choice is a 1.0L turbocharged inline three-cylinder EcoBoost, also seen in the Fiesta and Focus (reviewed here), and the other is a 2.0L inline four-cylinder, naturally aspirated. The EcoBoost I-3 makes 123 horsepower and 125 lb-ft. of torque in the other two cars, and the I-4 is at 160 and 146, respectively, so it’s presumed that numbers will be in this vicinity.
Four-cylinder models get all-wheel-drive as standard equipment, while I-3 models are front-drive. The all-wheel-drive system is a slip-and-grip system that Ford refers to as “intelligent”. There are no buttons or manual controls for the driver; the EcoSport automatically detects when all power needs to be sent to all four wheels and adjusts the system accordingly. Both models get a six-speed automatic transmission, and thankfully, the four-cylinder also gets direct injection.
The interior is, for the most part, standard issue Ford. An eight-inch floating touchscreen with SYNC 3 is the centerpiece, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for maximum connectivity. A premium 675-watt B&O PLAY sound system with ten speakers is standard on the top-trim Titanium model, and SYNC Connect uses a 4G modem to create a WiFi hotspot within the car. To ensure that passengers remain connected at all times, there are two fast-charging USB ports and an optional 110V outlet on the back of the center console. Fun colour schemes with contrasting colours are available on the EcoSport as well.
After getting into the EcoSport and getting a feel for overall space, the front seats are surprisingly generous for this segment. Even taller drivers will have no issues getting comfortable, and headroom thanks to the tall profile is a bonus. As with everything else the EcoSport competes with, the rear seats are for occasional use and/or smaller passengers. Subcompact crossovers are the perfect choice for either empty nesters or young couples/millennials with an urban lifestyle – those with growing families will need to shop one size larger.
Curiously, Ford’s opting to not sell the EcoSport in Canada until early 2018, which leads us to question why reveal it so early (late 2016) and why not wait until the full platform redesign for the global vehicle. By the time it arrives for sale, its rivals, which are already newer overall, will be up for refreshes, rendering the EcoSport a bit obsolete. The price point will be very important and, if Ford’s history is any indicator, the EcoSport will be priced aggressively and will soar out of showrooms on price point and style.