The Ford EcoSport is a small four-door crossover sport utility vehicle that's actually an international vehicle. Though the version sent to the U.S. comes from India, the EcoSport also is manufactured Romania, Russia, China, Thailand, and Brazil.
That's why it looks odd to American eyes: tall, sort of squished front to back, and with a side-opening fifth door instead of the more familiar tailgate. A plus: it opens correctly for right-hand-drive countries, hinged at the left and opening from curbside on the right. Other small crossovers with side-opening doors (like early Honda CR-Vs) opened the opposite, requiring loaders to stand out in traffic.
The EcoSport is part of a proliferation of mini-sized crossovers that includes the Kia Soul, Hyundai Kona, Honda HR-V, Chevrolet Trax, Toyota CH-R, Nissan Kicks, and Mazda CX-3.
At just 13 feet 5 inches long, it is shorter than other small crossovers and even some hatchbacks like the Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Elantra. It is just a few inches longer than BMW's all-electric i3. Still, it manages 91 cubic feet of space for passengers and 21 cubic feet for cargo, which is equivalent to a midsize sedan.
However, on the EcoSport it is not allocated well. There's plenty of space and comfort up front, but the second row comes up short on knee room, which would force the driver and front passenger to move their seats forward simply to accommodate those in back.
Once you divvy up the space, rear-seat passengers get generous headroom to go with the short knee room. Outboard passengers, as usual, fare the best while the unfortunate in the center position must contend with cramped foot space and an uncomfortable cushion.
The basic S version, with a $19,995 price tag, comes with a 123-horsepower, 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine that delivers 125 lb.-ft. of torque through a six-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels. Our tested EcoSport was the SES model with all-wheel drive. Its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine makes 166 horsepower with 149 lb.-ft. of torque, also with a six-speed automatic transmission. On the SES, the automatic was enhanced by a manual-shift mode that included steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
That combination transforms the Eco-Sport into an entertaining urban runabout of a size that can dodge traffic and park easily almost anywhere. The main downside is lackluster fuel economy -- just 23/29/25 miles to the gallon on the EPA's city/highway/combined cycles.
With a $27,735 price tag, the SES comes well-equipped with rear cross-traffic alert, navigation, blind-spot warning, pushbutton starting, motorized sunroof, automatic climate control, leather-trimmed cloth upholstery, heated front seats, the paddles for manual shifting and 17-inch alloy wheels.
More important from the driver's standpoint is a stiffer suspension system for improved handling. The EcoSport SES handles curves without much lean and cruises steadily on freeways. Safety equipment does not include collision warning, automatic emergency braking, or lane-departure mitigation.
The tester's price tag placed it at the top end of the mini crossover class. Comparably equipped competitors sell for less, though the new all-wheel-drive Hyundai Kona Ultimate has a higher price tag of $29,775.
However, an all-wheel-drive Honda HR-V has a sticker price of $24,660. The new Nissan Kicks checks in at $22,205 and the Toyota CH-R sells for $24,060. And both the Kicks and CH-R have front-wheel drive.
Ford has announced that it will bail out of sedans, which means the demise of the subcompact Fiesta, compact Focus, and midsize Fusion. It will mostly concentrate on trucks -- no surprise because its F-Series pickups have been best-sellers for four decades.
Because of the current buyer infatuation with SUVs and crossovers of all sizes, shapes, and price classes, the EcoSport likely will continue to anchor the bottom of the Ford lineup, as the entry model below the Escape, Edge, Explorer, and Expedition.
Copyright © 2018 Motor Matters
|Base price||$26,740 (as tested: $27,735)|
|Curb weight||3,327 lbs.|
|Engine type||4-cylinder w/GDI|
|Epa mileage rating||23 mpg city, 25 mpg highway|
|Fuel capacity||13.6 gal.|
|Horsepower (net)||166 at 6500 rpm|
|Overall length||161.3 in.|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||149 at 4500 rpm|
|Vehicle type||5-passenger AWD small CUV|
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