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FORD EcoSport: Subcompact crossover emphasizes space, price

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Ford indicates that their new “EcoSport is a subcompact SUV that allows customers to hack their lives to enable them to do things they could never do before and fit more into their day.” While I’m not so sure about the “fit more” part, if you’re considering a subcompact crossover like a 2018 Ford EcoSport Titanium, “economy” is probably a better word.

When shopping for a subcompact crossover you’re seeking a compact price, a compact size and expecting a small number of amenities – not all of these hold true for EcoSport.

A quick walk around the vehicle reveals a slightly “humpback” look. The wheels are 17-inchers, but EcoSport’s shape makes them look tiny. The nose has familiar Ford styling cues, including active grille shutters, it looks good coming at you, and the roof rack appears functional enough to help increase utility.

Power

The engine is a 1.0-liter EcoBoost turbo I-3 with 125 lb.-ft. of torque and an auto start/stop for the engine to save fuel. The engine size, horsepower and torque numbers relegate EcoSport to the lower tier of subcompact crossovers. This small engine is torquey, but it has to yank a 3,100-pound vehicle around.

My tester, (all) EcoSports come with a 6-speed automatic that is geared for fuel economy. It does feature select shift and it does feature select shift, but it only makes modest changes. My tester also featured tow hooks and trailer prep package that Ford indicates make it capable of towing up to 2,000 pounds.

Inside

Pop inside the EcoSport and you’ll note a subcompact interior. Yes, there are belts for five, but only four adults can fit. Up front, you’re seated on thin and not particularly wide leather covered seat. The interior is mainly comprised of hard, plastic panels and trim. There are also some oasis areas of soft, padded surfaces and carpeting.

Amenities

Having ‘less’ doesn’t apply to my Titanium version EcoSport. My tester came with a lot of standard/premium amenities. Chiefly, Ford’s Sync 3, which has finally become a top-tier multimedia interface. It features an easy-to-use layout, good graphics, and a fast-response 8.0-inch touchscreen. Additional tech is present with a 4G LTE modem with Wi-Fi hotspot allowing you to connect up to 10 devices from 50 feet away. Also included are two fast-charge USB ports and a 12-volt power outlet.

Hauling

When you need to haul stuff, Ford’s tape measure indicates 20.9 cubic feet of space with the split rear seats up, and 50 cubic feet with them almost down. A three-level cargo floor is a helpful touch, but it would have been even better if the cargo area wasn’t reduced by the wheel wells and the corresponding narrow space between them.

Driving

My tester came with driving/safety aids including AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control. Acceleration is available but have an acceleration zone plan if you’re going to haul a full load of passengers and/or tow something. Driving with just myself in the vehicle and without a load, I was able to wring some modest acceleration, but the transmission has gawky gearing that leaves a huge gap between second and third gears.

Competing

Where the EcoSport shines is in the tech department. The revised infotainment system with 8-inch touchscreen, Navi, audio, embedded 4G LTE modem, availability of Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and charge ports pack a decent amount of tech in a subcompact package. 

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