2018 Ford EcoSport SES: Fun and Versatile, But Is the Price Worth It? [Review]

That price can end up near $30,000 - a bit pricey for a subcompact

OVERVIEW

Ford’s newest entry into the subcompact crossover arena comes in the form of the 2018 Ford EcoSport. It has been on sale in other global markets since 2003, with its most recent facelift happening a few years ago. It’s proportions will appear as cute to some, and perhaps to others. It does, though, widen Ford’s range of SUVs across the entire market, from the massive Expedition on down.

The diminutive EcoSport is available in four progressive levels of trim. There’s the base S, followed by the SE, the sporty SES, and the flagship Titanium model.

SPORTY STYLING

Visually, the 2018 Ford EcoSport has an exterior form that is like of many of its competitors. One might readily liken it to a Ford Escape with its shrunken footprint. The nose is rounded with the hood rising to a very sharply raked windshield. Front and rear overhangs are short, while the wheel wells are pronounced over the17-inch alloy wheels. In profile, the a sharp character line runs from the front wheel well to the tail lamps on each side.

The rear of the EcoSport displays a low, wide stance even though the roof appears to be very tall when viewed from the side. Perhaps it looks a bit top heavy. Rather than sporting a lift gate, the 2018 Ford EcoSport uses a side-hinged rear door that opens to the left for the U.S market.

The 2018 Ford EcoSport provides basic feature content, but is lacking in some safety related technology. It does have traction control with Roll Stability Control and ABS, a backup camera and rear parking sensors as standard fare. However, it lacks some important features such as automated emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are available as options.

COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE

Gen Z drivers not only want but expect in-vehicle Wi-Fi, multiple charging ports and smartphone app-compatible entertainment systems. Entering the cabin, the 2018 Ford EcoSport is available with those and other features. You get Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. Higher trim levels come with an 8.0-inch capacitive touchscreen infotainment system. The EcoSport is also available with a B&O Play premium audio system and SiriusXM satellite radio on higher trim levels.

Ford EcoSport delivers 50 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front row. That’s nearly double the 25.4 cubic feet of a Fiesta hatchback. With the seats in place it offers 20.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row. However, back seat space behind tall front seat occupants is extremely limited, given the car’s size. The back seat is also on the narrow side.

2018 Ford EcoSport SES review
Ford offers the 2018 Ford EcoSport in four trim levels, including the sporty SES and the more luxurious Titanium. [Photo: Ford]

PERFORMANCE

The 2018 Ford EcoSport comes with two engine choices. The standard engine is a 1.0-liter EcoBoost inline three-cylinder that produces a modest 123 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque. The other option is a larger 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that delivers 166 horsepower and 149 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. It is capable of towing up to 2,000 pounds, when properly equipped.

Both powerplants route their energy to the drive wheels through a 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmission. The SES trim comes with steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters. Drive configurations consist of either FWD or Intelligent 4WD for roughly an extra $1,500.

The 2018 Ford EcoSport could actually be a little more economical. EPA estimates of 23 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway put it in the lower end of its class. It could also be a little sportier. The engine is certainly capable, but the vehicle’s total mass is on the hefty side. That explains the 0-60 mph time of 9.8 seconds. Despite that, the EcoSport is both practical and versatile. It is also actually fun to drive, as the handling characteristics such as steering input are readily responsive.

The ride quality is generally comfortable, except on really rough pavement. Although it’s a four-wheel drive car, it’s not made for rock crawling, but for simpler off-road jaunts. The eco-friendly tires are not particularly sticky, so don’t plan on any autocross excursions either.

U.S. sales of subcompact SUVs among 18- to 24-year-olds are projected to surpass sales of subcompact cars as early as next year.

TFLCAR’S TAKE

The 2018 Ford EcoSport SES appeals particularly to the 18-24 set, as a viable option for a first car. However, I wouldn’t rule out its potential popularity with empty nesters either. True, it’s a little expensive considering its feature content level. That said, it’s a fun-looking, quirky little crossover that carries some charm among its peers.

My test 2018 Ford EcoSport SES is powered by the larger 2.0-liter engine. The exterior was finished is Canyon Ridge Metallic – a shade of Bronze. The interior came with cloth-patterned seats with Canyon Ridge striping to match the dash and console trim accents. The EcoSport range starts at $20,990, while the SES comes out to $27,875 after factoring in the Destination and Delivery charge. Since this will be Ford’s entry-level product soon, that’s a dear price to pay over the current, much less expensive Fiesta. Fortunately, Ford does offer some incentives on the 2018 Ford EcoSport.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Ford EcoSport (SES trim tested)

On Sale: Now
Base MSRP: $19,995
Price as Tested:
$27,875
Engine: 2.0-liter Ti-VCT I-4
Drivetrain (Layout): Transversely mounted front engine, all-wheel drive
Horsepower: 166 hp @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 149 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed SelectShift automatic w/ paddle shifters
Suspension: Front: Independent MacPherson-strut type with stabilizer bar, twin-tube hydraulic gas-pressurized shocks

Rear: Fully independent multilink with stabilizer bar, progressive-rate springs, mono-tube hydraulic gas-pressurized shocks

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front)
Tires: Bridgestone Ecopia EP 422Plus P205/50 R17 93H
Fuel capacity: 13.6 gallons
Fuel economy (EPA): 23 City / 29 Highway / 25 Combined mpg

Dimensions:

Wheelbase: 99.2 inches
Length: 161.3 inches
Width: 81.0 inches (incl. mirrors)
Height: 65.1 inches
Turning Circle: 35.1 feet
Curb Weight: 3,327 pounds

 

Arv Voss
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring journalist and member and past officer of several noted automotive journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.