From biggest to smallest: Expedition, Explorer, Edge, Escape and, finally, EcoSport. There have been rumors that Ford may exit the mass-market sedan game altogether (but we find this doubtful) and specialize in only high-margin vehicles. So, what are you going to sell to someone who likes their Fiesta? How about the EcoSport? The diminutive SUV seems small on the outside but is relatively spacious for the passengers on the inside. The high roofline tricks you into thinking you are piloting something bigger. Parked next to my wife’s Escape, I could see a distinct difference from the outside, but the passenger compartment isn’t significantly smaller. But there isn’t much space in the cargo area. You’ll be able to put some groceries back there and that’s about it. Or flip the rear seats down if you are hauling a lot of cargo. Speaking of hauling, the Lilliputian SUV can tow 2,000 pounds. No, it ain’t an F-150, but that is a few motorcycles or a couple of jet skis. There is no other little SUV in the class that can tow that kind of weight. It gives me confidence in the Ford powertrain lasting a long time for regular driving without a hitch.
There are two choices for power: the fit-in-a-knapsack 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder engine, or the more commonplace 2.0 direct-injection inline 4. My tester was the 2.0 I-4, but I have tried the 1.0 turbo in the Fiesta and it is a strong mill for the size. The EcoSport can be fitted with four-wheel drive. With its ability to tow, that makes it the ultimate city adventure mobile. Fuel economy with the bigger engine and four-wheel drive comes in around 25 MPG. Pretty good but nothing to brag about.
Now for the feature that had me confounded. Walking around to the rear of the car, I kept looking for the button to open the tailgate to access the cargo hold. But there is no button. Then I looked for one on the key fob. Finally the dashboard. The last resort was doing a jig underneath the exhaust system in case there was a way to access the trunk via motion sensing. But none of that worked. I had to resort to the manual, where I learned about a button hidden in the taillight housing on the passenger side of the vehicle. The reason is the tailgate swings open outward rather than lifts into the air. If you get an EcoSport, most people will not know how to access your trunk. One of my first aftermarket upgrades would be to add an access button above the license plate frame. This would help keep my friends from being confounded. Plus, the beauty of a barn-door trunk is the ability to store a spare tire on the rear of the vehicle, just like the last generation RAV-4. I would look into retrofitting a spare tire on the trunk, as the EcoSport has in other markets. As it sits now, you are just left with a mobility kit.
The interior is dressed up a bit with some splashy orange-colored bits that give an anodized aluminum appearance. Everything is right where you would want it, including Ford’s excellent 8-inch SYNC system placed front and center. Ford did a great job integrating the large screen with a floating appearance onto the dashboard, and it feels rock solid. Alpine Electronics offers a new aftermarket system dubbed the Halo 9 that mimics this Ford installation technique. It sure can upgrade the infotainment comforts of an older ride. If you have an older ride and are not ready for a brand-new one just yet, check it out.
A B&O audio system is available in the EcoSport, but my tester had the mundane one. It sounded OK for standard Ford audio, but you can easily achieve better with outboard processing, amplification and speakers. If you opt for the SYNC system, retaining the head unit makes a lot of sense.
So, Ford’s EcoSport is a diminutive SUV you can park anywhere and have 4WD. The closest competitor is the Chevy Trax, and the Ford product seems a little nicer overall. For urbanites who need to tow something on the weekends, it is the perfect vehicle. Park small and tow big!