Review: Ford crosses over into the mini-SUV phase with tiny EcoSport


Enlarge / The Ford EcoSport out on the freeway.

The crossover and SUV market, being what it’s, has been sliced and diced into discrete chunks. There are the behemoths: true full-size SUVs just like the Chevy Suburban. There’s the luxurious market, the place the relevance of “utility” generally falls into query. Then there are the subcompacts, vehicles just like the Mini Cooper Countryman and the Honda HR-V—small crossovers with an SUV profile, an inexpensive quantity of cargo house, and a backseat that is not punishment for these over 5 toes tall. And then there’s the Ford EcoSport.

A wee SUV

New to the US market in 2018, Ford’s bite-size crossover sits under the Escape in Ford’s soon-to-be-sedan-less lineup, and it has a beautiful sticker value. The base mannequin, the EcoSport S, begins at $19,995 and provides a 1.0-liter turbocharged, direct-injected three-cylinder engine. The mannequin we examined, the SES, begins at $26,880. Engine measurement is doubled, with a 2.0L four-cylinder direct-injection Ti-VCT engine. That’s paired with a six-speed transmission and all-wheel drive (on the SES solely; the opposite three fashions are front-wheel drive). Safety-wise, the EcoSport has aspect air-curtain tech for each the back and front seats, roll stability management, and Ford’s SOS Post-Crash Alert System.

From the outside, the EcoSport seems the half, slicing a excessive profile. It has de rigueur black plastic trim operating alongside the underside of the doorways, a largish grille with the acquainted Ford oval, and roof rack rails. Instead of the usual liftgate, nevertheless, the EcoSport has a fifth door that swings open to the aspect. It’s not unattractive, however the physique and styling is not going to make anybody swoon. As one one that noticed me drive up in it commented, the EcoSport seems like a cousin to the Smart Fortwo with a again seat thrown in for good measure.

The inside is uninspiring however useful. The automotive we drove has black leather-trimmed seats with tan accents. The driver’s seat has mechanical controls for every part however lumbar help, whereas the passenger seat will get by with all guide controls. The instrument panel is analog with a small digital show within the center. It might be custom-made to indicate journey information or pace, however Ford additionally makes use of it as a way of sending you messages about what is going on on with the automotive, which you dismiss by hitting the OK button on the steering wheel. It’s form of helpful once you’re low on gasoline—each time I began the automotive with lower than 50 miles of vary, I received a message telling me what number of miles till empty.

I saw this every time I started the car once I got below 50 miles of range. You'll see these prompts each time you use the backup camera, too.
Enlarge / I noticed this each time I began the automotive as soon as I received under 50 miles of vary. You’ll see these prompts every time you utilize the backup digicam, too.

Eric Bangeman

The drawback comes once you’re doing extra mundane issues, like backing up. Each time I put the automotive into reverse, I’d get a immediate saying that the rear-view backup digicam was energetic, which I knew as a result of I may see the digicam view on the HD show.

Speaking of the show, it seems misplaced with the remainder of the inside. It’s positioned center-front on the sprint, and it is made out of a shiny black plastic that appears misplaced with the remainder of the matte finishes on the dashboard and the inside. It left me with the impression that Ford remembered on the final minute that the EcoSport was alleged to have a show and dropped one in there.

Sync itself is simply OK. The interface feels dated at this level, and there is vital lag when switching features and even radio stations. When altering stations, for example, the show usually would not replace for 5 to 10 seconds. It’s additionally a protracted attain from the motive force’s seat to the precise of the show, that means you will have to take your eyes off the highway if you wish to swap which radio presets you are biking by.

Android Auto and CarPlay are each supported, and a pair of USB ports within the middle console are for plugging in and charging your telephone.

Sight strains are good from the motive force’s seat. You have the standard SUV perch feeling when behind the wheel, even when your perch is decrease than most of the different SUVs on the highway. The seats are supportive sufficient, however the armrests are in an odd place on the door, each too excessive and too low for it to really feel pure when utilizing them for his or her meant goal. On the passenger aspect, the aspect of the middle console is angled in a means that cuts into your leg room. The again seat is unhealthy information for anybody who’s too outdated for a automotive seat. There was about Three inches of leg room behind me after I had the motive force’s seat in my most well-liked place.

Part of the rationale the backseat is so small is because of the quantity of cargo space. For a automotive that is solely 161 inches lengthy, you continue to get 20.9 cubic toes (592L) of cargo house and 50 cubic toes (1,416L) with the rear seat folded down.

Rough rider

My time with the EcoSport coincided with a visit to GingerMan Raceway close to South Haven, Michigan, for a monitor occasion sponsored by the Midwestern Automotive Media Association, so I received extra freeway time than I often get in a loaner. There’s not a lot in the way in which of acceleration within the EcoSport, because it takes near 10 seconds to make it from zero to 60mph. Driver-assist tech is unfortunately missing as effectively: there’s old-school cruise management and warning lights within the side-view mirrors… and nothing extra. That’s a disgrace, as a result of different vehicles within the EcoSport value vary—just like the $30,000 Subaru Crosstrek I reviewed within the spring—supply adaptive cruise management, collision warning, and lane-keep help.

On the opposite hand, freeway mileage topped the 29mpg marketed, as I received 30.7mpg on pure interstate driving. Overall, I averaged 27.9mpg for the week, only a hair over the 27mpg marketed for metropolis driving. In comparability with different vehicles in its class, it isn’t as compelling. The aforementioned Honda HR-V does 34mpg/28mpg, whereas the Crosstrek clocks in at 39mpg/29mpg, and each vehicles supply extra cargo house and more-powerful engines.

You’ll additionally really feel all the highway within the EcoSport. There’s a bit of I-196 in southeastern Michigan with pronounced seams within the concrete. If you’ve got ever pushed on such a highway, you will know what I’m speaking about—that regular, rhythmic “ba-dump” that you just really feel to a various diploma relying on the automotive you are in. With the EcoSport, I felt each seam, and it had me trying to see what number of miles I had left to my vacation spot. The EcoSport’s experience borders on disagreeable on poor pavement.

Handling is ample within the EcoSport. Even as small as it’s, there’s nonetheless the sense of SUV-ness when taking a good curve or a cloverleaf on-ramp.

Judging by the promoting, Ford has positioned the EcoSport as a mini-SUV for an city streetscape. I lived on the Chicago lakefront for half a decade and would have cherished parallel parking a 161-inch automotive in tight areas. But that swing-open tailgate is an odd alternative for a automotive that is in any other case optimized for tight squeezes.

Beyond measurement, nevertheless, it is simply not a really nice experience. You’ll really feel all the highway, all the time, and the 166hp engine feels underpowered in some settings. The entrance seats are snug to sit down in, however the again seat is basically not for folks over 4 toes tall.

At $20,000, the 3-cylinder EcoSport is priced competitively with the opposition—the bottom, 11-inch-longer Honda HR-V begins on the similar place, however at $26,000, it isn’t a really compelling purchase. Yes, you get a good quantity of cargo house and the SUV form-factor that’s all the fad within the US. At the top of the day, nevertheless, the EcoSport shouldn’t be terribly economical, and there is little about driving it that feels sporty. Unless you are a diehard Ford fan, keep away from this one.

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