First Look: Ford’s All-New 2018 EcoSport Compact SUV

Ford Prepares Two New Offerings For The SUV Arena For 2018, including the all-new 2018 EcoSport

The Ford Motor Company seemingly dominates the SUV market in Canada, and there position will only get stronger with the introduction of  two new models for 2018.

At the top of the pecking order resides the company’s largest offering, the Expedition, which is getting its first complete overhaul since its introduction 20 years ago. At the other end of the spectrum is a new player for the Canadian market, the EcoSport, a subcompact SUV that has been making a name for itself for over a decade in other world markets.

Drive impressions will have to wait, as the two examples Ford representatives had on hand were early prototypes, but I did have the opportunity to crawl around the cabins and explore the various nooks and crannies of both vehicles.   

2018 Ford EcoSport Overview

The EcoSport will arrive this fall as a revised variant of the second generation of the capable little people mover. The fact that we catch the current iteration in mid-cycle means that it will be well sorted out and free of the hiccups that often come along for the ride with all-new models.

The Ford EcoSport is a world car produced in India, and it has been added to the Ford Canada arsenal to compete against similar offerings recently introduced by the brand’s competitors, including the Nissan Qashqai, Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V, Toyota c-HR, Kia Niro, Chevrolet Trax, and Jeep Renegade.  This crowded segment is quickly becoming one of the most prominent battlegrounds  in the Canadian automotive landscape.

The target audience will include active milennials, urban couples and empty nesters who seek a vehicle that can perform multi-roles for a low cost but be large enough for comfort and small enough to be city friendly.  As a result, the EcoSport has been designed in a manner to maximize interior space and comfort, versatility, connectivity, and efficiency.    

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Power and Performance

The majority of Canadian buyers are expected to order the EcoSport fitted with Ford’s intelligent four-wheel-drive (4WD) system, but there will be front-wheel-drive offerings as well. Like most of its corporate siblings, the EcoSport will be offered in four trims – S, SE, SES, and Titanium – which permit buyers to select a model with the level of equipment and comfort features that best suits both their needs and their wallets. Pricing as yet to be released.   

Motivation for front-wheel-drive models will come from a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost engine, while four-wheel-drive offerings will feature a 2.0-litre direct-injection four-cylinder engine.  Both engines are mated to  a six-speed automatic transmission, and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are available as an option.  Horsepower  and torque numbers as well as fuel consumption numbers have yet to be released.

The vehicle’s small size will prove a plus in the city, while its wide track and low center of gravity shall help enhance its handling. The EcoSport will come equipped with roll stability control and electric power-assisted steering.

Ford’ s intelligent 4WD will actively monitor the vehicle’s speed, wheel  and accelerator positions so that it can engage four-wheel-drive automatically as needed when it senses slippage, otherwise the vehicle will operate as a front-wheel-drive unit.

Interior impressions

The design of the interior allows for sufficient space for four adults and weekend luggage, but legroom may be an issue in the rear seating area for taller folks.  The rear seats are a 60/40 design and fold flat to allow for larger amounts of cargo to be carried, and there are plenty of storage bins and cubbies spread throughout the vehicle.

Cargo space

The rear cargo area is accessed using a swing gate rather than a hatch design which looks novel, but in reality leads to some restrictions with regards to usage.  While you won’t bump your head, you may miss the rain protection offered by an upswing design, and say good bye to leaving the gate open to transport longer items. 

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Technology

Ford is all about technology, and the EcoSport has plenty of it incorporated into the design. The most prominent  being a “floating” infotainment screen.  This high visibility screen is situated atop the dashboard and will be available in two sizes – 6.5-inch and 8-inch – as an upgrade over the more traditionally mounted  4 inch, non-floating version that comes standard on the base model.

EcoSport buyers can order Ford’s innovative SYNC 3 system which offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility plus AppLink. This technology allows easy smartphone-to-vehicle interaction with maps, text messaging, music and more, using simple voice commands or the LCD touch screen.  Other available connectivity features include a pair of smart-charging USB ports , a  110V/150W AC power outlet , SYNC Connect (4G embedded modem) powered by FordPass which allows drivers to start, lock, unlock and locate their vehicle.

The daily commute can be a chore, so the base AM/FM/CD  audio system can be enhanced by adding SiriusXM satellite radio capabilities as an option, but true audiophiles can order the B&O (Bang and Olufsen) Play audio system which replaces the standard 7-speaker audio system with a high-performance set-up that incorporates 10 speakers and an impressive 675-watts of power.

2018 Ford EcoSport Release Date and Pricing

The 2018 EcoSport you see here is a pre-production model not yet for sale. Expect the new EcoSport to arrive this fall as a revised variant of the second generation, along with official pricing earlier on. We’ll share more as soon as we receive info.

Takeaway

Although the EcoSport and Expedition have been designed for very different clientele, I suspect that both of these vehicles will prove popular in the SUV-friendly North American market and help the Ford Motor Company continue to grow a vehicle segment that they are largely responsible for creating in the first place.

Learn more – 2018 Ford EcoSport

2018 EcoSport Gallery:

Russell Purcell is an award-winning automotive journalist and photographer based in Vancouver, B.C. His passion for automobiles was sparked at the tender age of six, when a family friend gave the wide-eyed first grader a ride to school in a track prepared Porsche 911 RSR. He continues to fan the flames by building an impressive library of automotive related books as well as a vast collection of interesting automobilia and motoring artefacts. Russell is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, and is active on Twitter as RoadTestRuss.