You’re looking at one of the best surprises of the year in the car world.
Yep, this little fella here!
The new EcoSport is the entry-level SUV in the Ford range moving forward – and you might have seen one on the road without realizing it.
We definitely let out a few giggles on first sight but really came to like the machine after a few days on the road. Yes, tiny. But so current with tech and the drive experience is very perky in city traffic.
What we have here is the first true supermini sport-ute! That means you could almost park it like a Smart in most city parking spaces.
Perhaps not that small, this machine has a $20k base sticker and charm for days.
We have a full drive review with Exterior, Interior, Performance, and Pricing sections. Oh, and a fun drive video too!
Performance Drive Video
The EcoSport’s cute nose appearance is deeply similar to the larger Escape sibling. Except smaller and slightly sillier. The silly theme certainly applies to the short hood, tiny alloys and chopped overhangs on both ends. Think of this as a Fiesta Outback and you will have a good idea of the looks.
The appearance on the outside is as traditional as possible for such a tiny sport ute. Some nice details can be found up front with the Titanium trim package and its integrated LED DRL running up the inner edge of the projector headlamps. No HIDs or other LEDs to speak of, but still commendably modern and chic for its price.
Around back, the most notable elements are the swing-open rear door and the chrome door handle that is hidden in the chrome of one of the brake lamps. This has a button underneath: it is not a handle!! Your author tugged at it from many sides before realizing.
Overall, the design of the EcoSport is playful and goofy enough to make it a loveable alternative to cars like the Fiat 500.
You might notice the wheel/tire package… and not for the best reason. The EcoSport would look a lot cooler with bigger alloys.
The cabin of the EcoSport feels very modern on first sitting. The touchscreen is high-res and high off the low dash cowl – as are the seats and the rest of the package. No low floor here and still oodles of headroom and perceived space – even though the car is quite narrow.
Visibility is a core strength from the driver’s seat right away and later on the road. Panoramic moonroof and mod cons like charge ports galore. The resounding impression is of a tiny car that is loaded with big-car equipment.
Where to start? How about this handsome and functional touchscreen in the top of the dash. It works a treat and feels at least 3X as fast and responsive as the last Sync we recall. The youth-ready tech touches are all around, with great power port counts and good tech integration overall. Apple CarPlay worked flawlessly and the Bluetooth setup is a piece of cake too.
Materials might be a little tough and trucky for many of the dark cabin plastics, but it does feel incredibly well screwed-together. Built Ford Tough… in Brazil!
Lastly a note about the Bang & Olufson audio on this loaded Titanium model. We scoffed at this for two days before cranking the volume and appreciating it. There is deep thump to be had and no reverb or echo whatsoever. Impressive.
The EcoSport is pleasantly surprising on the road. The base models run Ford’s much-loved turbo triple but this top dog carries a 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated four making 160HP through a six-speed automatic. Totally conventional and without the hiccups of Ford’s DSG or the irritating nature of rival CVT transmissions in the Rogue Sport, for example.
You do need to lean deep into the throttle to scoot the EcoSport forward to pass other traffic, but the engine revs out smoothly and the shifts are all clean and well-judged. In corners, the EcoSport has a light-footed brilliance that makes it pretty fun to chuck around.
The “4WD” badge might be a bit of a stretch for this part-time AWD system that mostly routes ponies to the front axle. Even so, the handling balance is totally neutral with no understeer to report on the twisty handling loop. No real sense of the AWD system’s behavior at all, but the availability of AWD is a benefit for snowy climates and especially versus many FWD-only alternatives – especially in snowy climates.
This is where our test gets slightly tricky. The EcoSport we sampled was a preproduction model without official EPA mileage figures and with preliminary pricing.
The EcoSport is priced from $20k and rises to about $29,000 with every option like our Titanium tester. However, there is a $4000 launch discount incentive to make the price point close to $26k out-the-door.
These micro-utes make a terrific city and eco car alternative to traditional low-slung compact cars. The added height not only makes them comfier and more liveable inside. But it also makes them seem proud and even – dare I say it – somewhat cool and fashionable on the road. Where every Kia Rio, or indeed Ford Fiesta sedan, might make you grimace with embarrassment in traffic… these cute ‘utes are just goofy enough to be fun.
They do cost more to buy than traditional econoboxes and the fuel economy takes a fairly big ding as well. Resale should be much more solid, however, and the machines will be vastly more useful for outdoor adventures and apartment moves.
EcoSport might have seemed like a bad joke when it first arrived as the Escape’s kid brother. After some quality time behind the wheel, we’re thrilled to share that Ford has aced this new segment’s style, size and pricing requirements. Take one for a spin and you will find a very sophisticated and well-made product at the bottom of Ford’s SUV ladder.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.