Take the Ford Fiesta – a cute little hatch that served its purpose from 2010 – 2018. Now, take that small hatch, add a four-inch lift, take a few inches off the front, a few more off the back, add all-wheel drive and viola, we have the latest craze, a new sub-compact cute-ute, the Ford EcoSport.
Back in the day, sub-compacts had a different meaning. They were little cars for the everyday folk; they served as affordable commuters cars. Their only options included air conditioning and maybe a radio. Granted, that was about 20 years ago – when I was still a teenager and now we have crossovers the size some Beverly Hills tote bags. Can we even really call these sub-compacts, more like micro machines?
The Ford EcoSport is a bit of an odd situation – it’s received some negative press due to some shortcomings, but we’re optimistic here and in the end, we really couldn’t see what the fuss was all about. The biggest downfall to the EcoSport is its powertrain, a base 1.0-liter 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine that produces a measly 123-horsepower. This is an engine to skip since Ford offers an alternative – a 2.0-liter four-cylinder. However, there is a catch – it’s a $1595 option on the base $19,995 EcoSport S and it is only available with four-wheel drive. Towering up to our near top trimmed $25,880 Titanium, just one level below the sport oriented SES – the Titanium only asks for $1450 more for the 166-horsepower four-cylinder.
While this four-cylinder isn’t the most refine engine in its class, it certainly gets the job done without any hassle. Taking upwards to 10-seconds to sixty is a patience game, but one would find the crisp shifts from the six-speed automatic delightful. With such a small wheel base, the EcoBoost loves to be tossed around like a little rag doll in traffic situations. The steering carries a presence of solitude and structured responses – it carries a weightiness to its motions that feels confident to any interactions. It also rides as smooth as one would expect. Small ruts in the road are noticeable but not uncomfortable – the suspension works with what it has to help sort out any unwanted vibrations or harsh jolts.
Size really matters when it comes to sub-compact vehicles and the Ford EcoSport showcased another one of its bad hands – it’s smaller than it looks. While front seat space is more than adequate for any size member with plenty of spacious area to not feel claustrophobic – rear seats and cargo area fall short of a jokes punchline – not to say someone can’t fit back there, just not longer than half an hour. Then comes to its fuel tank – 13.6 gallons – it’s sized appropriately for the size of the crossover, but with all-wheel drive bleeding through its veins – it called for a fuel up every 250 miles. Even after averaging 26 mpg on the highway.
Despite its few little shortcomings, the EcoSport is a cute little brute. It carries similar attributes to its larger Escape with a stubby nose and flat behind. Even on the entry level EcoSport S there is a presence of personality with dark 16-inch steel wheels, fog lights, and black accents. Our Titanium on the other featured 17-inch alloys, projector beam headlights, an appropriate amount of chrome to keep it classy. We even liked how Ford incorporated the rear hatch handle into the taillights – very clever.
Inside our EcoSport Titanium, there was no shortage of comfort amenities with leather seats, automatic climate control and large touch screen infotainment system. Using the latest SYNC3 software, the touch screen carries a crystal clear high-def display and uber easy to use functionality including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
The EcoSport is one of the very few sub-compact crossovers to does not offer any safety features that most brands offer on the market. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic detection is standard on the Titanium; however, we will not find forward collision emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, or lane keep assist like one would find on the Toyota C-HR, Mazda CX-3 or Hyundai Kona.
With a final price of $28,325, the Ford EcoSport Titanium fits relativity in the middle of the market putting it about $1000 more than the spacious Honda HR-V and about $1000 cheaper than the Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring and more powerful Hyundai Kona Ultimate. So if you need something that makes snappy u-turns, fits into tight spaces and never have obligations to drive friends around, the Ford EcoSport isn’t a bad way to go.