Unveiled for the first time in the US last week, the 2018 Ford EcoSport subcompact crossover will swoop in and plug an important gap in the automaker’s US lineup, and although it’s been around in essentially the same form since 2014 in Europe (and even longer in some other markets), most Americans are likely still unacquainted with what the Ford EcoSport offers. Even those who are familiar with the Euro-market version of the vehicle ought to know that some important changes will affect the North American version of the crossover utility vehicle.
So, with the hope of getting you a bit more familiar with the US-bound Ford EcoSport, here is a list of five things we rather like about the CUV:
1. It’s Tiny
Yes, the Ford EcoSport’s diminutive size could just as easily be counted as a negative, but we’re choosing to see the good. The Fiesta-based CUV ought to be far easier to place on the road than its large contemporaries, and no chore in tight urban settings, while offering plenty of storage capacity and comfortable seating for five. It is, in essence, the best of both worlds: the practicality of a crossover, with the maneuverability and navigability of a car.
2. It Offers Four-Wheel Drive
Four-wheel drive offers plenty of obvious benefits over front-wheel drive, and Ford’s “Intelligent 4WD” system will be available on the new US-market Ford EcoSport. The system monitors all four wheels for slip every 16 milliseconds, sending torque to the rear wheels only when warranted by road conditions, and keeping the crossover FWD for better fuel efficiency most of the time. Intelligent 4WD comes standard with the available 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.
3. It Has A Swing-Style Tailgate Rather Than A Lifting One
Swing-gate-style tailgates have rather fallen out of favor, with lifting tailgates becoming the norm. While the lifting tailgate certainly has its benefits – allowing access to the cargo area from either side of the vehicle; perhaps having a smaller chance of colliding with obstacles behind the vehicle; etc. – low-hanging plumbing, electrical conduits, and even ceilings in garages can be bothersome. With its short length, the Ford EcoSport’s swinging tailgate isn’t often going to be in danger of sticking out too far, and it certainly won’t be in danger of banging into any objects overhead.
Plus, while failure of the lift struts on most tailgates means you’ll be propping open that heavy door by hand, swing-style tailgates don’t have that problem. And they’re kind of chic.
4. It’s Cute
Sure, aesthetics are subjective, but we think the Ford EcoSport is sort of an adorable, eager-looking little thing – like the Nissan Juke, only less polarizing.
5. The Interior Is On Point
Let’s manage our expectations a tad; the 2018 Ford EcoSport will be a low-price offering when it goes on-sale next year, so naturally, truly cushy interior materials are rather beyond its price point (at least at the bottom end of the model hierarchy). That said, the layout and appearance of the crossover’s interior is just right, with plenty enough legroom and headroom up front, and a clean, intuitive console with the SYNC 3 touchscreen well within reach (and sight) of the driver. Cargo space is somewhat limited, but the 60/40-split folding rear seats will help to accommodate larger items as needed.
A Subcompact Crossover Poised For Success
The US-spec 2018 Ford EcoSport is a much-needed product for the automaker, and while it’s a bit of a late entrant to the subcompact CUV segment, it seems to have all the core competencies that could help propel it to success. Admittedly, we find ourselves pining for the European-market manual transmission and 1.5-liter diesel, but we’re likely in the minority in that regard.