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2018 Ford EcoSport Test Drive Review

If you haven’t seen or heard of the 2018 Ford EcoSport at this point, you must not watch any television (or you just skip the commercials). Ford launched an aggressive marketing campaign for its all-new subcompact crossover, and for good reason. This new crossover is incredibly late to a red hot segment that includes the Jeep Renegade, Chevrolet Trax and Mazda CX-3 as well as equally new rivals like the Nissan Kicks, Toyota C-HR and Hyundai Kona — not to mention versatile hatchbacks like the Kia Soul.

Despite being new to our shores, the EcoSport (pronounced echo-sport, according to Ford) actually dates back to 2003, and the current model was introduced for the 2013 model year. The 2018 Ford EcoSport gives Ford a solid lineup of crossovers and SUVs joining the Escape, Edge, Explorer and Expedition. Unlike these North American-made family vehicles, the EcoSport is imported from India.

As this segment remains one of the fastest growing (even luxury automakers are getting in on the action), Ford’s plan to bring the EcoSport to the U.S. makes perfect sense, but it faces some stiff competition. With that in mind, we spent a week in a 2018 Ford EcoSport Titanium 2.0 4WD to see how it stacks up.

2018 Ford EcoSport

2018 Ford EcoSport Exterior

The introduction of the 2018 Ford EcoSport here in the U.S. coincides with the first refresh of the second-gen EcoSport giving this baby Ford the look of a shrunk-down Ford Edge. The face of the EcoSport ties in much better with Ford’s current design language thanks to larger headlights and grille, and it is a handsome crossover from every angle. The rear view of this crossover reveals the EcoSport’s most unique feature, a side-hinged rear door with an electronic release hidden cleverly within the right side taillight. Sadly, unlike the Euro-spec EcoSport, U.S. buyers are not offered the option of a rear-mounted spare tire.

Even though the EcoSport is a subcompact vehicle, the overall design does a great job of hiding its small proportions. The only exception are the 17-inch wheels (an upgraded feature on this Titanium trim level) that look a size or two too small. As is the case with many of its rivals, the 2018 Ford EcoSport is available in a variety of bright color options including this tester’s Lightning Blue Metallic hue.

2018 Ford EcoSport

2018 Ford EcoSport Interior

While the 2018 Ford EcoSport doesn’t look its size from the outside, it definitely feels small on the inside. On paper, the EcoSport is a five-passenger vehicle, but despite being two inches longer than the subcompact Fiesta hatchback, it has less interior volume and tighter rear seat accommodations. This platform also shows its age with a lot of flat surfaces covered in hard plastics, and the Titanium’s leather seats won’t trick anyone into feeling like they’re riding in a Lincoln Navigator. Don’t worry, though, it’s not all doom and gloom with Ford’s smallest crossover.

You do get a lot of tech on the Titanium trim level including Ford’s SYNC 3 with voice-activated navigation and an eight-inch touch screen that offers swipe and pinch functions just like a smartphone. Harman’s B&O Play Premium Audio System is also included, and there are lots of charging capabilities for smartphones and mobile devices; there’s a three-prong power outlet at the back of the tiny center console and another power outlet positioned oddly in the hip area of the rear outboard seat. Despite its small footprint, the EcoSport can pack in a lot of cargo thanks to 20.9 cubic feet behind the second row and 50 cubic feet with the seats folded flat.

2018 Ford EcoSport

2018 Ford EcoSport Powertrain

The 2018 Ford EcoSport comes standard with a 123-hp 1.0-liter EcoBoost inline-three as the base engine, but buyers can opt for the 2.0-liter direct-injected Ti-VCT inline-four as a $1,450 option. That might seem like a steep price tag for an optional engine, but this bigger four-cylinder also adds in the Intelligent 4WD – a feature not offered on rivals the C-HR and Soul. Despite the increased power – 166 horsepower and 149 lb-ft of torque – and standard four-wheel drive, this bigger engine doesn’t require the usual sacrifice at the pump with EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 23 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway**; that’s the same highway fuel economy as the 1.0-liter engine but 4 less mpg in the city. Both engines mate to Ford’s smooth six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission.

We haven’t had the chance to sample the EcoSport with the base engine, but the 2.0-liter four-cylinder is a great fit for this 3,300-pound (as-tested) crossover. Acceleration is surprisingly peppy, while steering and braking are about what we’ve come to expect from a subcompact car these days; it’s not going to blow your mind, but it is far from numb and uninspiring. If you’re looking for something a little more engaging, the EcoSport’s SES trim level promises a sport-tuned suspension as well as a sportier-looking exterior with dark accents and smoke headlights. Surprisingly, the EcoSport – regardless of engine – still has the ability to tow up to 2,000 pounds.

2018 Ford EcoSport

2018 Ford EcoSport Safety

The 2018 Ford EcoSport has not yet been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but Ford crams a lot of safety into such a small package. There are 10 standard airbags including front occupant knee airbags and rear side-impact airbags – optional or simply not offered on some vehicles in this segment and price range. The EcoSport also comes with Ford MyKey and SOS Post-Crash Alert System, and about the only safety option you can’t get on the Titanium is the blind-spot monitor that is standard on the SES trim.

2018 Ford EcoSport

2018 Ford EcoSport Overall

With an obvious target of younger buyers and empty nesters, the 2018 Ford EcoSport hits the nail on the head with the latest technology, great efficiency and easy maneuverability. The low starting price of just $19,995* makes it an even choice for buyers looking for a small vehicle that is still practical and affordable, yet the EcoSport Titanium (starting at $25,880*) shows that this crossover still has some luxury potential. As you see it, the EcoSport Titanium 2.0 4WD used for this test drive review had an as-tested price of $28,325.

Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Ford dealership and test drive the 2018 Ford EcoSport today!

*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

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