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Ford EcoSport: Mini-sized crossover offers entry-level price

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Ford introduces the all-new 2018 EcoSport to Americans who want smallish convenience and SUV capability. Equipped with the award-winning 1.0-liter 3-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost or 2.0-L 4-cylinder, the EcoSport has both power and good driving manners.

With its squat shape and side-opening fifth door (instead of tailgate), the EcoSport immediately distinguishes itself as something different in a crossover sea of sameness. Part of a mini-sized crossovers explosion in popularity, the EcoSport comes in at just 13 feet 5 inches long, shorter than other small crossovers and even some hatchbacks.

Cabin Spaces

The EcoSport cabin space is generous up front and stingy for those behind the first row. The only way to help out is for the driver and front passenger to move their seats forward to accommodate those in back. I suppose that’s part of enjoying the efficiency of a mini crossover, but understand there will be tradeoffs.

Once you divvy up the space, rear-seat passengers get generous headroom to go with the short knee room. Outboard passengers, as usual, fare the best while the unfortunate in the center position must contend with cramped foot space and an uncomfortable cushion.

EcoSport
Variants

The basic S version, with a $19,995 price tag, comes with a 123-horsepower, 1.0-L three-cylinder engine that delivers 125 lb.-ft. of torque through a 6-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels. My EcoSport tester was the SES model with all-wheel drive. Its 2.0-L 4-cylinder engine delivers 166 horsepower with 149 lb.-ft. of torque, also with a 6-speed automatic transmission. On the SES, the automatic was enhanced by a manual-shift mode that included steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

With that combo, the Eco-Sport is turned more into an urban mini car that makes its living dodging traffic and easily parking wherever it desires.

If there is a downside to all of this it is surprisingly average fuel economy at just 23/29/25 miles to the gallon on the EPA’s city/highway/combined cycles.

Equipment Plentiful

With a $27,735 price tag, the SES comes well-equipped with rear cross-traffic alert, navigation, blind-spot warning, pushbutton starting, motorized sunroof, automatic climate control, leather-trimmed cloth upholstery, heated front seats, the paddles for manual shifting and 17-inch alloy wheels.

More important from the driver’s standpoint is a stiffer suspension system for improved handling. The EcoSport SES handles curves without much lean and cruises steadily on freeways. Safety equipment does not include collision warning, automatic emergency braking, or lane-departure mitigation.

The tester’s price tag placed it at the top end of the mini crossover class. Comparably equipped competitors sell for less, though the new all-wheel-drive Hyundai Kona Ultimate has a higher price tag of $29,775.

No Sedans

With the recent announcement that Ford will get out of sedans, which means the demise of the subcompact Fiesta, compact Focus, and midsize Fusion, the EcoSport will have to help fill the gap.

With the popularity of SUVs and crossovers of all sizes, shapes, and price classes, the EcoSport likely will continue to anchor the bottom of the Ford lineup, as the entry model below the Escape, Edge, Explorer, and Expedition.

This auto review was researched and written by SteinPro Content Services and provided to the Sun-Times for publication