First things first. There is a right way and a wrong way to pronounce the name of Ford’s newest subcompact SUV. It’s not EcoSport like EcoBoost, which is what Ford calls its lineup with fuel-efficient engines. No, it’s EcoSport, as in echo.
[ECHOES] Its base engine is an underpowered one liter turbo-charged three cylinder. We bought the up level two-liter, four-cylinder. But even with its 166 horsepower, this engine was neither Eco nor Sport. The transmission isn’t well-tuned, either. You often have to press down on the gas pedal for a long time to get it to downshift. And even then, you’re greeted with a lot of loud engine revs for your trouble. Despite being slow, it’s kind of fun to drive. With its quick steering and its limited body roll, the EcoSport feels like you’re driving a sportier car, rather than this narrow and upright SUV. And even though it isn’t designed for off-roading, the EcoSport can handle the occasional muddy trail, and it can tow up to 2000 pounds.
There’s not a lot of space in the cabin of the EcoSport, but you probably could have guessed that yourself. But what would you expect from a subcompact SUV? The front seats are comfortable, but some quirks make for an odd driving position. For instance, you have to sit up quite high, but it’s still difficult to see any of the sloping hood, the center armrest isn’t level with the one on the door, and a power adjustment seems to only raise the rear of the seat. It can make you feel like you’re about to be catapulted out of the chair.
Make sure to sit in the EcoSport a bit before you buy one. And check out the visibility while you’re there, too. The front pillars are thick, and the back window is small. Rear passengers will find a flat seat, and it’ll force them to have good posture. As you might expect, taller people will find it tight back here, with limited head, knee, and foot room. The optional SYNC 3 infotainment system gets you a vivid and responsive touch screen with built-in Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. Out back, the EcoSport’s unique cargo door swings out, rather than up, like on most other SUVs. This design can make it difficult to open the rear if there’s something behind you.
The cargo room overall isn’t too big, but things are helped by the adjustable cargo floor and the 60/40 split folding rear seats. Unfortunately, the EcoSport let us down big time in the advanced safety department. Features like automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning aren’t available at all. Even commonplace gear, like blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert require going to the mid trim or above. In total, our EcoSport SES trim with a cold weather package cost us $28,130. For more on subcompact SUVs, check out consumerreports.org.