The Ford EcoSport is a subcompact crossover that is new to North America, although it has actually been sold in some overseas markets like Brazil since 2003. The crossover is currently in its second generation, and the second-generation model is the first one available in North America. The small SUV got a significant refresh before coming here, giving the Ford EcoSport the updates it needs to compete in a burgeoning segment. Ford insists that it’s pronounced “Echo-Sport.” In the Ford lineup, the EcoSport sits below the Ford Escape as the smallest CUV offered by the brand.

As Ford moves away from sedans and hatchbacks, vehicles like the EcoSport are becoming more important in the American automaker’s lineup. With a higher driving position and available all-wheel drive, the EcoSport has proven very popular among people looking for a bit more utility from their vehicles, selling more than 54,000 units in the U.S. in its first year here. The EcoSport shares a platform with the Fiesta.

The Ford EcoSports sold in North American are built in Chennai, India.

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Ford EcoSport Specs

Ford Ecosport

Engine: 1.0L turbo 3-cylinder / 2.0L 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 123 / 166
Torque: 125 lb ft / 149 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with auto stop-start
Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive / all-wheel drive
Seating Capacity: 5
Cargo Capacity: 20.9 cu-ft seats up / 50 cu-ft seats down

Ford EcoSport Fuel Economy

Ford EcoSport

The Ford EcoSport with the tiny 1.0L EcoBoost three-cylinder is only available with front-wheel drive. Fuel economy for this model clocks in at 27 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 28 mpg combined.

The EcoSport with the upgraded 2.0L naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine is only available with all-wheel drive, and is a bit less fuel efficient than the base engine. This EcoSport is officially rated at 23 mog city, 29 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined.

To help put that into perspective, the Honda HR-V with front-wheel drive and a CVT, which is one of the EcoSport’s main competitors, is rated at 28 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined. AWD HR-V models get 27, 31 and 29 combined, meaning the Honda is more fuel efficient than the Ford.

Ford EcoSport Safety Rating

Ford Ecosport

The Ford EcoSport got an overall safety rating of 4 out of 5 stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for its crashworthiness. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not fully reviewed the Ford EcoSport yet but did give it a “Good” rating for its crashworthiness.

We don’t expect the Ford EcoSport to get a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the IIHS due to its lack of driver assistance and safety technology like emergency automatic braking and collision mitigation. Pretty much the only active safety equipment available is blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert.

Ford EcoSport Features

2019 Ford EcoSport Titanium

As mentioned before, the Ford EcoSport is lacking when it comes to active driver assistance and safety features. The only thing it gets is blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available with the upgraded infotainment system.

The Ford EcoSport S comes standard with a capless fuel filler, tiered cargo shelving in the trunk, blind spot mirrors, a 1.0L turbo engine with automatic stop/start, hill start assist, reverse camera, front-wheel drive, two quick-charging USB ports, automatic headlights, remote keyless entry, tire pressure monitoring and more. The base model does not come with a touchscreen, which is decidedly old-school.

2019 Ford EcoSport cargo area

Moving up to the EcoSport SE gets you fog lights, roof rails, reverse sensing system, LED daytime running lights, leather-wrapped steering wheel, sunroof, push-button start, windshield wiper de-icer, 6-way power driver seat, and heated front seats.

The Ford EcoSport Titanium adds 17-inch wheels, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, rain-sensing wipers, heated steering wheels, a Bang and Olufsen sound system with 10 speakers, 8-inch color touchscreen, SYNC3, navigation, voice recognition, leather-trimmed seats, and more.

2019 Ford EcoSport Titanium second row interior

The topline Ford EcoSport SES adds four-wheel drive, 2.0L engine, a sport-tuned suspension, auto dimming rear view mirror, wifi hotspot capability, and more.

Ford EcoSport

Ford EcoSport Pricing

The Ford EcoSport S is the base model and starts at $19,999 plus the $1,095 destination fee.

Up from there, the EcoSport SE costs $23,150, and the Titanium goes for $26,160. The topline EcoSport SES goes for $27,275.

To be completely honest, we do not think this pricing is very competitive. The Nissan Kicks starts at just $18,640 and comes with way more features, even at base level.

Ford EcoSport Competitors

The Ford EcoSport is a subcompact crossover that competes with the Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Chevrolet Trax, Toyota CH-R, Nissan Kicks, Mazda CX-3, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Subaru Crosstrek, Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500x.

Read More Hyundai Kona Review
Read More Nissan Kicks Review
Read More Mazda CX-3 Review
Read More Toyota C-HR Review

Future Ford EcoSport Plans

Ford really needs to give its EcoSport more features. We expect future models to be better equipped with driver assistance and safety technology so it can better compete with other vehicles in its segment. Nearly all competitors offer some kind of front collision warning and emergency automatic braking, and some even offer adaptive cruise control, so it’s important that the EcoSport gets these features in the future. Ford even offers a parking assistant that can help parallel or reverse park, and it would be great if the EcoSport had this too.

Ford EcoSport Review

By Jodi Lai

Ford EcoSport Review

The Ford EcoSport is simultaneously one of the first and one of the last subcompact crossovers to market.

Globally, the EcoSport (Ford insists it’s pronounced “Echo-Sport” even though it’s not “Echo-Boost”) has been around since 2003 and finally became available to North American consumers in 2018. The EcoSport is currently in its second generation and got a thorough refresh before arriving in North America.

It’s curious why Ford didn’t bring this little CUV to our shores sooner, as doing so could have helped it secure some market share before some very strong competitors got here. On the other hand, delaying its arrival here could have meant that Ford had a bit more time to make the global EcoSport exactly the small CUV North Americans wanted. And it was pretty close, but not quite there yet.

Honey, I Shrunk the Escape

There’s no way to ignore that this little CUV looks awkward from nearly every angle. Looking a bit like a comically shrunken caricature of the Ford Escape, none of that crossover’s handsomeness translated well onto this smaller format. The tall and yet stubby EcoSport could almost be called cute if it didn’t have the proportions of a jujube.

2018 Ford EcoSport Review-15

Despite its tiny size and strange proportions, the EcoSport has enough room, even in the back seat, as long as there aren’t taller-than-average people in the front. Taller backseat passengers might have to slouch a bit so their hair doesn’t touch the headliner, but it’s not torture to be back there.

ALSO SEE: Ford Escape Pros and Cons

In front, I found the driving and front passenger position very awkward and difficult to get comfortable in. The seats are too upright and I couldn’t configure them to feel just right. The kitchen chair-like position definitely made it feel like I was sitting on top of the car rather than in the car, which is more natural and comfortable.

The EcoSport holds 21 cubic feet (592 L) in the trunk and 50 cu-ft (1,416 L) with the rear seats folded flat. That’s less than the Honda HR-V and more than the Hyundai Kona. The bench also features seat cushions that flip up and backrests that fold down to make a flat load floor and more room for larger items. The trunk also has a removable shelf with three positions so you have multiple options for storing and hiding your stuff.

2018 Ford EcoSport Review- Hatch

Ford decided to keep the side-hinged hatch opening, even though the North American model doesn’t have the rear-mounted spare tire the global model does. This means there’s no way to open the hatch remotely — the only way to open it is via a small button hidden under the handle in the right tail light housing. Luckily, the door is engineered so a driver can’t fling it open and have it hit something inadvertently — a hydraulic setup ensures the door stays put and doesn’t act like a fridge door or bounce back and hit you. I also appreciate the capless fuel filler.

Interior Features

Inside, the EcoSport is livable, although it can feel a bit cheap in some places — there’s a lot of hard black plastic. The layout, however, makes sense and is intuitive and user-friendly. Ambient lighting makes it more interesting and there are some smart places to stow stuff like a shelf above the glovebox and a little pocket in the side of the passenger seat where you can stow a phone. One interior option livens things up — it has partial leather seats with orange cloth inserts and an attractive matte-finish orange trim.

2018 Ford EcoSport Review-31

One feature that is present here but often overlooked in competitor cars is fast-charging USB ports. The EcoSport comes standard with two fast charging ports up front, which is so necessary these days.

Connectivity is also important and the EcoSport has the subscription-based ability to act as a hotspot that can provide wifi for up to 10 devices. Three levels of infotainment are available: the base model one isn’t a touchscreen, but a 6.5-inch and a bigger 8-inch touchscreen is available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The SYNC system is user-friendly but can be laggy and unresponsive to user inputs at times.

2018 Ford EcoSport Review - Dashboard

In terms of driver assistance technology, there isn’t a whole lot going on. Blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert is optional and works well, but there’s no forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, or adaptive cruise control available. This is a shame because nearly every single one of its competitors offer better tech.

Driving Dynamics

Two engines are available for the EcoSport. The base engine is a tiny turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine with 123 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque and is available exclusively on the front-wheel-drive model. The upgraded unit is a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 167 hp and 149 pound-feet of torque that comes on all AWD models.

Neither engine is spectacular but does the job — both engines seem to feel strained often and struggle when trying to get up to highway speeds, pass a slower car, or even get up a small hill. This isn’t terribly unusual for this segment and the same things can be said about the Honda HR-V. It doesn’t help that the six-speed transmission can feel hesitant to change gears and sometimes does so in a clunky manner. Still, driving around town, both engines should be sufficient unless you live in a city that has a lot of hills. Luckily the steering has some weight to it and the EcoSport doesn’t wander too much on the highway. One other big bonus: the stop/start system is one of the best out there — it’s smooth and unobtrusive.

2018 Ford EcoSport Review-13

The EcoSport’s small size and standard reverse camera make it easy enough to park and the sightlines are pretty decent with little windows added where there would normally be a blind spot.

The Verdict: Ford EcoSport Review

The Ford EcoSport isn’t the best subcompact crossover in its class, but it’s comfortably average. Although it has some neat features and generally does everything you need it to do, it’s a little rough around the edges and is missing some key safety and driver assistance technology, which is a shame because Ford had so much time to perfect this formula, seeing as the EcoSport has actually been around for a long time. Still, the EcoSport packs in a lot of value and a lot of features that will be very handy during the daily commute or weekend adventures.

Detailed Specs

Engines / 1.0L turbo 3-cylinder / 2.0L 4-cylinder
Horsepower / 123 / 166
Torque / 125 lb ft / 149 lb-ft
Transmission / 6-speed automatic
Drivetrain / Front-wheel drive, optional AWD
Cargo Capacity / 20.9 cu-ft seats up / 50 cu-ft seats down

Our Final Verdict

The Ford EcoSport isn’t the best subcompact crossover in its segment, but it’s comfortably average. It combines clever storage solutions with a lively interior and an easy-to-drive package. It generally does everything you need it to but is lacking a few key safety features that many of its competitors offer, and because of this, its price is not very competitive.