2018 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 only now is it finally available to North American consumers. 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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 blindspot.

The Verdict: 2018 Ford EcoSport Review

The 2018 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.

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