Ford 2018 EcoSport, First Impressions

Ford continues shamelessly badging all its vehicles with the Eco brand, including an entirely new subcompact cross-over, the EcoSport. Yes, we had the same dull, “slowly blink your eyes at different times” reaction. Ford’s Eco-everything approach to building cars has us all slowly dozing off into a slumber, like when we sat in school, staring out the open window into the summer haze. Soothing. Oh, there goes an EcoSport, a boring pedestrian car. And off to sleep we go.

2018 EcoSport DriveZing

Why This, Now?

But we begrudgingly admit the EcoSport addresses a problem that’s often been swept under the proverbial rug at the blue oval: Compact car space in their economy lineup. The EcoSport is based on the subcompact Fiesta, a relatively popular supermini that made its introductions in European markets. There’s a problem with the Fiesta, though. It’s confused. Is it a sedan? Is it a boring hatch? A hot hatch? The answers to those questions are “yes”, and that’s not good.

The Fiesta ST is a great driver’s car that cuts corners like butter and offers plenty of GTI-battling zip. The Fiesta sedan is a good first car. But that regular hatch trim seems a little underwhelming, cramped for its profile, and dated. The EcoSport addresses all that with Ford’s first real “wee bitty SUV”. Ford’s been largely absent from the subcompact crossover game for too long, but is their ballot too late?

The EcoSport Fixes the Fiesta’s Failings

Nope. The EcoSport is a good crossover. It’s much more spacious than the Fiesta hatch, while keeping all the things that make the Fiestas good cars, too. Official specs are few, but the EcoSport looks like it’ll offer about 160” of length and 70” of width. It’ll stand about 64” tall. These dimensions are very similar to the Fiesta hatch (160” L x 68” W), but the EcoSport adds around 7” of height and 2” of width, and those small numbers make a world of difference.

EcoSport Front Fascia

From the front, the EcoSport looks like a Fiesta that enjoyed a growth spurt

The EcoSport is also less “pointy” and sloped, eschewing Ford’s take on economy sportiness with a proper SUV’s profile. The back sits tall and straight with a logical swing-out rear door. The roof (thankfully) doesn’t coalesce into an annoying, head-crunching rear seat area. Actual, grown adults who are not the size of toddlers can comfortably sit and converse without craning necks and elbowing each other in the ribs.

EcoSport Rear Seats

Unlike the Fiesta hatch, actual adults can enjoy sitting in the rear of the EcoSport.

No Surprise in 2017, A Logical Design

For those weekend projects, the rear seats fold down. You can finally shove fencing, dog kennels, or that new yoga swing in the back without having to leave your trunk open, tied up precariously with bungie cord while you traipse down the highway with your hazards on.

Performance and features are generally the same as the Fiesta Hatchback, too – all good things since consumers enjoy the Fiesta’s pep and comfort. Although Ford is mum about specific numbers and confirming things, the EcoSport is likely to have the same 1.0L I-3 and 2.0L I-4. That’ll mean the EcoSport gets around 120 to 160 horses.

EcoSport 2.0L AWD

The 2.0L EcoSport will have capable AWD with dynamic handling, making it a great casual off-roader

Other standard and available features include an LCD entertainment and info screen that ranges between 4” and 8”, a cooled glove box, SYNC 3, Apple CarPlay, Siri Eyefree, Android Auto, a fast-charging USB port for your gadgets, and numerous 12-volt and 110-volt ports for those tailgates and camping trips.

A Narrow Slice of a Crowded Market

So in the end, the EcoSport’s annoying branding actually makes sense – for Ford, at least. It’s a logical replacement for a hatchback that just doesn’t seem to fit well in Ford’s crowded and very homogenous lineup. Ford gets to use the excuse that the EcoSport’s their first real subcompact SUV.

Where it matters for you and us, the EcoSport offers crucial extra space and comfort the Fiesta lacks while keeping its formula for popularity. Perhaps the Fiesta’s numerous trims will be shelved once the EcoSport rolls out in 2018. We hope so. Considering the flood of compact SUVs available today, the EcoSport needs all the justification it can get. This is certainly one of those, “okay, but this is the last one” things. We like what we see, but we will soon tire of all the crossover-this, compact-that. And of course, Eco-everything is reaching its limit.