By Bob Cowan
Using the F-word more than once and not “Ford”
This review has a happy ending but my first 5 minutes with the 2018 Ford EcoSport was the most annoying F-bomb filled 5 minutes I’ve ever spent with a new vehicle! How do you open the @#&**@!!**@#!! Lift gate???? There is no rear hatch button on the key fob, No button inside, no button above the licence plate – it is not in any place you would expect. Before I got into the manual which is ridiculous just to find out something so basic, I decided to go to YouTube where I found countless videos from people who encountered the same silly problem. The latch is cleverly integrated into the tail light lens! Of course! (see pics) It is also not a lift gate but a swing out rear door! How many times is that going to be a HUGE problem in a jammed parking lot! There is however storage spots molded into that gate and a hidden floor spaces for extra stuff. There is 1416 litres of cargo space when you fold down the rear seat.
Don’t worry; the EcoSport does redeem itself from that first impression. This is a great little crossover with lots of utility. The EcoSport is nothing new to the field – another small crossover that is part of Ford’s bigger shift away from conventional cars. The EcoSport is built in India which is the market it launched in along with South America back in 2012.
Now that it’s here it’s just as at home on Canadian roads. It’s a fun little thing to drive and extremely maneuverable. I was pleasantly surprised how smooth the ride was given its short wheelbase. My test unit was a FWD with the standard 1.0 litre Ecoboost turbocharged three cylinder engine. There are probably sewing machines with the same torque but it’s also surprisingly zippy enough with its six speed auto transmission. The base engine was getting a little noisy when pushed. There is an available 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated four cylinder that comes in a $2500,00 package that includes all wheel drive. It’s standard in the AWD sport version and provides 166-hp (an extra 43 hp) and 149 lb-ft of torque compared to the 3 cylinders 125 lb.
Fuel for Thought
The combined city/highway fuel economy of 8.5 (L/100km) I was getting with the EcoSport almost matched the published numbers (8.4) but those number are quite underwhelming for a car this small. The all wheel drive version is even thirstier with a combined rating of 9.3 L/100 km.
The EcoSport comes in a number of different trim levels starting with S at $20,985 through SE, SES and the top of the line Titanium at $27,040. My tester was an SE starting at $23,715.00 but included an added Convenience package with an 8 inch (base is 4.2 inches) navigation screen, AC power outlets, blind spot and cross traffic alert and Sync 3 connectivity with voice activation. The SE also gets a moonroof and heated seats with a 6 way power seat for the driver. As for the standard stuff – 16 inch alloy wheels, rear view camera, cruise control and USB ports.
Beauty is in the eye of the ‘key’holder
There’s lots of competition for most boring vehicle designs these days and Ford has proven capable of producing some of the world’s dullest looking cars (Ford Five Hundred the worst offender) but at least there was some effort put into the EcoSports design. We’re not shopping for flash here but utility and economy and the competition from the KIA Soul to the Honda HRV and Chevrolet Trax are not exactly head turners either. Inside the trim quality is what you get in this price range but it was comfy and the controls are nicely laid out.
In crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the U.S the EcoSport gets a 4 out of 5 star rating which is considered average. It scored a very low 3 in roll over testing. It should be noted that some of the EcoSport’s main competitors such as the Chevrolet Trax and Honda HR-V scored better with 5 stars.
While not a top safety pick which is an important consideration, the EcoSport delivers in other areas where it matters – great storage and room for five in a small car, decent performance and an affordable price. My only real gripe is that I hoped the mileage would be a bit better.
2018 Ford EcoSport FWD SE
Base price $23,715.00
As tested $28,639.00
Power train 1.0 LT. EcoBoost
Mileage: of 8.5 (L/100km) combined city/hwy.