An interesting little run-about crossover that needs to do more to be competitive
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
Pricing: 2019 Ford Ecosport
Base price (Titanium trim): $31,349
Options: $390 Blue Candy paint; $250 external door lock keypad; $520 remote starter
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $34,399
I thought I’d get the pricing out of the way early, because I believe it’s part of the Ecosport’s problem. While it’s not a bad vehicle, buyers will likely want the top trim Titanium like the one I reviewed, and at nearly $35,000 it has to compete with some pretty stellar offerings from other manufacturers.
Whenever I see an Ecosport (it’s not very often and I don’t think they’re selling very well around here), I’m shocked at how small they are. It’s really small. I don’t mind the styling. It’s cute but it’s bold and the proportions work well in my mind.
My tester’s 17″ rims (shod with 205/50-sized tires) looked really great.
Inside the Ecosport is a combination of hard black plastics and a dash made out of a strangely-textured soft material. It does not feel upscale in any sort of way. There is a small padded spot where you might put your arm/elbow on the door panel.
The black leather-trimmed seats are heated (as is the steering wheel) – I didn’t find them particularly comfortable. Only the driver’s seat is power-adjustable.
The SYNC 3 touchscreen juts out of the dash – it handles all the phone, navigation and media functions (the B&O sound system is decent, but not great) and vehicle settings. Below it is the automatic climate control and below that are 2 USB plugs and a 12V plug. You’ll find a small sunroof overhead.
The low roof means it’s easy to whack your head when you get into the back seats. The space is certainly small but, at 5’10”, I did have enough room to sit behind my own driving position – I had a tiny bit of knee and head-room to spare, but it was tight. This surprised me because my knees were pushed into the front seat in the last one I reviewed. The middle seating position would be tiny for anyone, and even my kids were not thrilled about having to sit there.
The middle seatback folds down to become an armrest with some cupholders and rear passengers get a 110V household plug for charging devices – that’s more than you get in many other entry-level vehicles. The right rear passenger also gets a 12V plug next to their seat.
Another interesting touch is the storage on the back of the front seats. Both rear passengers get the standard map pocket, or whatever you’d put in there nowadays – likely not a map! – but the right rear passenger also gets two additional seatback pockets – one extra upper one that goes the whole width of the front as well as a nifty little pocket on the side of the front seat too. I like that kind of thoughtfulness.
If you’re transporting little ones, there are two sets of LATCH anchors in the back.
The centre console has some open storage spaces for your stuff and there’s a very deep bin under the small armrest lid – so you can put some stuff in there.
The small trunk (592L) has a strange side-opening hinge and it makes this a less-accessible-feeling trunk than a typical overhead hatchback/liftgate. Although the trunk is not very big, it is usable and its flexibility is helped by the adjustable trunk floor that allows for varying floor heights.
The rear seats can get out of the way for additional space, but it’s not a fun process. You need to move the rear seat cushions out of the way in order to fold the rear seatbacks down and then you need to use the higher trunk floor position to make a flat load floor.
Under the Hood
Here is a decidedly old-tech 2L inline-4, paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel drive system. Ford rates this combination at 10.2/8 L/100 km (city/hwy). We averaged 9.9 L/100 km which is not great.
I can’t say a lot of great things about this powertrain. It is definitely gutless – and the more you step on it, the more gutless it feels. It just makes a lot of racket, but you won’t ever be able to coax any kind of rewarding acceleration out of it. In addition, this vehicle’s transmission programming was horrible. Unlike the one I drove last year, this one was super lurchy and it was almost impossible to make a smooth start in this vehicle.
I enjoyed the Ecosport’s handling around town which, even with a bit of body lean, was perfectly fine. Unfortunately the ride is loud and a bit harsh. The firmness (and resulting occasional harshness) is just something you don’t get in many other vehicles in this class. There’s a lack of refinement there that can’t be ignored.
Much of the vehicle’s road noise is definitely tire-related, as the Ecosport often felt very loud. But then, over some smoother surfaces and even at highway speeds, it was quite quiet – road and wind noise combined felt almost negligible and it was very impressive.
A final nitpick – every time the auto start/stop system fired back up while at a standstill like at an intersection, there would be a big lurch and it was very intrusive. Not a very smooth system.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was middling. While she liked the size in terms of driveability and being able to park, there wasn’t much more she enjoyed about it.
The size of the Ecosport is certainly its strength. It’s a very compact crossover that has enough room for four and reasonable cargo capacity. There’s enough tech and driver assistance/safety equipment to be competitive, but the overall package reeks of entry-level from the quality of the materials to the fit and finish.
I was a bit surprised when I reviewed last year’s top-of-the-line SES-trim Ecosport and saw the price. I’m even more surprised at this year’s new Titanium trim that takes things up a few thousand dollars. While much of this vehicle could be considered a compelling package, it’s not enough for me to recommend at nearly $35,000. You’ve got a lot of options at this price, most of which feel (and are) more modern and more upscale.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Ford Canada.
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