By on January 6, 2018

2018 Ford EcoSport - Image: Ford

To put it mildly, the TTAC crew has been less than enthusiastic about the 2018 Ford EcoSport ever since Ford Motor Company announced the overseas subcompact crossover would come to America, filling a gap at the bottom of Ford’s utility lineup. Having not driven one, we’ll hold off on any assumptions about the model’s abilities or quality.

But it’s interesting to note, as EcoSports arrive on dealer lots across the U.S., that Ford’s giving the model a helping hand right out of the gate.

Retailing for $19,995 (minus a $995 delivery fee) in base, front-wheel drive S trim, the EcoSport can be had for less when you factor in $2,750 in customer cash. As CNET first noted yesterday, the incentive is available across the model line — S, SE, Titanium, and top-flight SES — but only for lease customers. There’s also $500 offered to cash buyers.

Is Dearborn nervous about the EcoSport’s reception, or is this just the cost of doing business in the increasingly crowded crossover market? Certainly, the EcoSport faces stiff competition, even though the subcompact class isn’t where the hottest rivalries (or profits) lie.

2018 Ford Ecosport S - Image: Ford

Facing off against the EcoSport are the Toyota C-HR, which saw its best sales month to date in December, the top-selling Honda HR-V (which posted a 16.5 percent year-over-year sales drop last month), the slow-selling Mazda CX-3 (which reached a 2017 monthly high in December), and the second-best-selling Chevrolet Trax. Also joining the fray is the new-for-2018 Hyundai Kona and the upcoming Nissan Kicks. While subcompact volume pales in comparison to the compact class, few automakers seem willing to leave the segment for rivals to plunder.

The EcoSport arrives with the smallest engine available in a mainstream, non-hybrid vehicle — a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder. Powering the front wheels only, it generates 123 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission on offer, and customers can upgrade to all-wheel drive and a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter (167 hp, 149 lb-ft) for an extra $1,500.

Four-wheel traction and the 2.0-liter comes standard on the SES model, which retails for $27,735 after delivery. At that price point, of course, your options aren’t just relegated to subcompacts.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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61 Comments on “Ford EcoSport Hits Dealers With Big Lease Incentives in Tow...”


  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    I don’t understand. Why not just price it lower for the regular customer rather than incentivize it for fleet buyers? 20K seems a bit high to begin with.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Can anyone really justify buying this relic when you can probably get a midsize sedan for the same money?

    • 0 avatar
      Andrew Justus

      Why buy a Fusion, when for the same, or more, money you could get a tall Fiesta?

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Because women love to sit up high, and this is the cheapest way to sit up high behind a Ford badge. And it is still likely more practical than a sedan with an awkward trunk and difficult to get into back seat.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          I’ve talked to a bunch of women who drive CUVs. They love them for all sorts of reasons; even ones as silly as thinking they’re V6s when they’re 4 cylinders. At the end of the day, most of them think their CUVs are far cooler than hatchbacks and wagons that might accomplish their missions. It’s pretty hard to convince anyone that the Ecosport is in any way cool. Might as well drive a Golf.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Now, just last week I was taking a commenter to task for claiming a compact CUV had less utility and cargo space than a midsize sedan, but once you get down to the size of an EcoSport vs midsize, I’m inclined to agree. In the case of carrying both people and luggage, the Fusion would likely fit more bags and still seat people more comfortably.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      The market is obviously there. With the exception of the Accord and the fleet-heavy Camry, the midsize sedan segment is in steep decline. As you read above, sales of all but perhaps the Mazda entry are rising pretty nicely in this segment.

      So, why shouldn’t automakers fill the demand that’s obviously there? These vehicles aren’t designed for enthusiasts, clearly, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t successful.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Ask your wife/daughter/mom, or any other woman you know.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    Isn’t the 1.0 the three cylinder? The worst engine since the Vega’s. The auto has had a horrible history for reliability, and even when it’s working, it shifts poorly. If it shares any DNA with the Fiesta, it should be avoided like the plague.

    • 0 avatar
      jeanbaptiste

      Is the 1.0 3 cylinder bad? I looked at some reviews a few years back and people were generally happy with the power delivery. I’d be curious to hear if they have had problems with it.

      • 0 avatar
        scott25

        This doesn’t have the Powershift DCT from the Fiesta or Focus, it has a normal automatic, so it’s reliability remains to be seen. Same as the engine since not enough people bought 3 cylinder Fiestas here to make much of a survey group.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          Yeah, I don’t think the DCT is AWD capable, I’m betting this is the same 6 speed that is used in Escape, Fusion, etc. The one that should be in Fiesta and Focus.

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      GM made some crappy 4 cylinder engines in the 80’s. Doesn’t mean all other 4 cylinder engines are crap.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I’ve heard good things about the 1.0-liter. That said, I’m sure the rest of the car is horrid.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        I own a 1.0 Fiesta. Don’t have enough miles on it to say anything definitive about reliability, but there is certainly nothing wrong with the engine in that application, at least with the 5 speed. Good power for the class and excellent fuel economy (40+ mpg is pretty easy).

        Obviously that could all change with the automatic transmission and hundreds of extra pounds in the Ecosport.

    • 0 avatar

      “The worst engine since the Vega’s.”

      How about that: media.ford.com/content/fordmedia/fna/us/en/news/2017/06/21/ford-1-0-liter-ecoboost-wins-international-engine-of-the-year-fo.html

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        For Christmas a customer gave me a collection of Car and Drivers and Road & Tracks spanning 1965-1981. Don’t for a second think that critical acclaim when new is any insurance against buying a historical turkey, and that includes the Vega. I’ve seen Fords as recent as 2013 models with mechanical issues that aren’t worth repairing unless you’ve got a Ford district rep fighting in your corner, and most people don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Lots of assumptions, not much truth. Early teething issues aside (a faulty coolant hose that has been replaced with an updated design), the 1.0L EcoBoost is not a bad engine.

      ToddAtlas can say what he wants to, the engine has been out for years now and is in hundreds of thousands of cars across the globe (its used in lots of Ford cars outside of our North American spec Fiesta), and the horror stories are few and far between, with most being early build units with the defective hose causing rapid coolant loss and thereby ruining the engine due to overheating.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but more than just the Vega engine and the 1L EcoBoost will self-destruct if overheated enough.

      Aside from the DCT, the Fiesta and Focus are not unreliable, trouble-prone cars. And as others mentioned, this isn’t going to use the DCT.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        The 2012 and 2013 Focuses I’ve sent to the recyclers were DCTs. What percentage of them aren’t? I haven’t seen any 1.0 Ecoboost issues, but I’ve also seen precisely zero 1.0 Ecoboost powered cars. I have seen plenty of Fiestas that have fallen apart at a rate that would shock a former Versa owner, but they were all four cylinder cars.

        The funny thing is that the trucks that keep the lights on at Ford are among the absolute worst vehicles that we work on. GM built decent trucks even when their cars needed a day of dealer prep to be remotely presentable. Ford somehow sells more junk than anyone else sells any other vehicle in the country. I get it that the IRS protects the UAW with Section 179 deductions, but I can’t believe that there are so many people who don’t learn a thing from Triton engines, or brakes lines that rust through in moderate climates, or lack of parts support of models sold by the million, or faulty brake calipers, or all the diesel disasters, or tetanus risks from rocker panels that rust in places where nothing other than Ford brake lines do, or…whatever. It will be a big part of my day tomorrow whether I think about it right now or not.

        • 0 avatar
          conundrum

          WTH has the UAW got to do with poor quality and/or underspecced parts that Ford engineering and management specify or policies that limit availability of spare parts? That’s some wild tangent to go off on if we are supposed to believe Ford’s “bad” quality is traceable to the UAW.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            The UAW is only responsible in that resources allocated to their contracts aren’t allocated to product and support. That wasn’t the point of my reference to Section 179 of the IRS code, which is written to create sustained demand for the only vehicles UAW manufacturers make a profit on. Close the loophole for luxury trucks, and full-sized pickups would have the same prospects as Buick Electra 225s and Dodge Polaras.

        • 0 avatar
          conundrum

          So having read the comments and deciding that perhaps people who’d never even seen this thing or driven it are in true TTAC fashion opining on the Ecosport like experts, I read some reviews from the UK and Australia. In both these countries, the new model is already out.

          That the EcoSport is rubbish seems to be the general view, only a bit better than the really poor original model, and considering advertising dollars and the need for them, the universal condemnation is impressive. The ratings have gone from two star to three on average and that given grudgingly. The thing is based on the Fiesta, but doesn’t have the suspension or finesse in handling, rides badly, and the 3 cylinder turbo takes 12.7 sec to 62 mph. Slow. That’s before the automatic. So, another mini-wheezer from the House that Ford built. Suitable for retired rural postmistresses with a touch of butch flair to handle 10 inch snowdrifts. Will sell millions. For those who salivate at the stink of diesel, that one has 221 lb-ft to punt the little brute around and overstress the fittings.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Ford probably sees this as a critical model it’ll need to snare younger buyers, since they’re not buying compacts anymore. This, the lease incentives. Makes sense.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I agree.

      And younger buyers tend to delay the purchase of a car (any car) until they absolutely have to.

      The focus for them seems to be more on owning the latest and the greatest smart phone because that person’s entire life revolves around that phone.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Let’s hope the made-for-India build quality doesn’t turn them off Fords for life.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    When you’re late to the party, it takes some effort to make a beach head into the market. Thus the incentive. A lease incentive makes sense to attract a younger customer and try to lock them into future FoMoCo purchases.

    The Ford website gallery for the EcoSport shows a pretty decent looking vehicle. Seems more on par with the Buick Enclave than the HR-V or Trax. The photo of the back seat shows the potential appeal of this vs. a Fiesta or Focus.

    One trend I wonder about with all of the CUVs is the shrinking size of the window behind the C-pillar. They are very small on vehicles like the Equinox or Escape, but ridiculously small on this and the Enclave. What’s the point?!

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    This looks like the answer to the question of why most vehicles have such large diameter wheels today.

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    I wonder if the back seats will accommodate people over 4 feet tall when the front seats are occupied buy 6 foot adults. If not it will be as useless as the fiesta and focus.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Hmmm now that the coffee has taken effect I realize I managed to confuse lease with fleet buyers. Blush.
    But still, why only lease customers?

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    $27,735 seems a tad steep for that vehicle. You’d be better off buying a base Wrangler and adding aftermarket a/c. You’d have a better 4X4 with greater residual value.

  • avatar
    VW4motion

    Crash test ratings will be interesting on this vehicle.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Encore by Ford. Part of the Ford family of fine..uhh..vehicles! (It used to be “cars!” How passé! :-O )

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    The existence of this class of car, plus the incentives on them out of the gate, plus the fact that incentive is for the lease customer–aka the monthly payment customer–are proof positive that cars overall are just WAY too expensive, and the carmakers are acknowledging that.

    And the problem may not be the cost of the cars. The problem may be the horrible lack of buying power of the middle class. Wages have gone down over the last 20 years, and the ability to buy things that were just a given 40-50 years ago is similarly down.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      You’re right, payments definitely drive lease purchases, but I’d say technology does as well.

      Buyers these days – particularly younger ones – want all the latest toys in their cars. Leasing guarantees that in a couple of years, you’ll be able to trade into something newer, versus being locked into a five-year loan that you’ll end up WAY upside down on if you trade any time before the term’s up.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Have you compared the cost of cars then adjusting for inflation?

      For 1982 models, the base price of the Ford Escort 3-door was $5,518, equivalent to $13,997. The 2018 Ford Fiesta starts at $14,115, and do I even need to mention how much equipment it has vs the Escort? Just safety features like front and side airbags, stability control, crumple zones, on and on. Since we don’t get the 3 door Fiesta, you also have another pair of doors. The Fiesta standard engine has A LOT more power than the Escort could have dreamed of, and guess which one drives about 10,000x better even excluding power.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        Yeah, I do keep up with that. Overall, I would say that car prices today are in line with car prices of, say, 40 years ago.

        That’s why I said, specifically, that the problem might not be the prices of the cars themselves. The problem might be the buying power of current wages, which has been going down for years.

        Add to that the competition in the marketplace for other things for those wages to buy–things that didn’t exist 40 years ago, like cell phones and service–and there you are.

        I mean, I hear these stories about people paying $500, $600/month for cell phones for the whole family–and I’m aghast. WTF? Do the math on that backwards. That $500/month today is $123 40 years ago. That was a house payment for many households back in 1977. Now add in the $200/month for cable. And people accept these things because “well, of course you’re going to have these expenses”. They simply don’t think.

        Things like that drive REAL household buying power down. Yes, people can choose not to have those expenses–but too many of them don’t even know they can put up an antenna and get OTA TV at zero cost. Technical and financial ignorance is rampant, and the world is full of blind “I want, therefore I will get” attitudes.

        So they can’t afford the same car they would have easily been able to afford 40 years ago. Hence these tiny/tinny tall cars with their lease incentives right out of the gate. At least the “tall” part makes Joe Sixpack think he’s getting a “real” vehicle, just like those SUVs his entire new development neighborhood is full of.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        On the other hand, in the 80s/90s, a 22-year old grocery clerk could walk into a Ford/Chevy/Eagle dealership and walk out with a sporty 2-door turbocharged coupe. That same 22-year old grocery clerk today is taking the bus to work and spending more than 50% of their take home pay on rent. They can aspire to a high-mileage Accord one day though.

        I was just reading an article today about professionals in the Bay area making $50K+ a year who can’t afford more than a room in someone else’s house. I know that area is an outlier, but it’s crazy out there, how much buying power is taken up by living expenses.

  • avatar
    twincamry

    Fun fact. This car has a 1,400 LBS tow rating with the 1.0 EcoBoost and 2,000 LBS with the 2.0.

    Source: https://www.ford.com/suvs-crossovers/ecosport/models/s/

    One more great way to support The Great American Anti-Towing Conspiracy.
    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2008/02/the-great-american-anti-towing-conspiracy/

  • avatar
    stingray65

    I’ve never understood how finance works for car makers. When I was an MBA student we were taught that a new product should not be developed and marketed unless it offered at a projected ROI that at a bare minimum exceeded the cost of capital + desired profit margin. ROI was based on what was left over after starting out with the projected price and working your way backwards to subtract distribution channel margins, cost of goods sold, and overhead cost allocations. So I assume the EcoSport finance guy did his ROI calculations based on the $20 to $27K sticker price and worked his way backwards, and the fact that the car is being offered would suggest the vehicle offered a satisfactory ROI, but despite being in a reasonably strong segment and market, and before the car is even sold, they are already offering substantial discounts that likely put that ROI in jeopardy. Do they just expect F-150 profits to bail them out every time they have to put cash on the hood of one of their less profitable vehicles?

    • 0 avatar
      gmichaelj

      “I’ve never understood how finance works for car makers.”

      I’ve been looking at this website for several years now, and I haven’t seen anyone (author or commenter) who has ever offered any deep insights into car makers’ financial decisions.

      So, Immagunna spitball that Ford has a target return on investment (ROI) for this vehicle (produced in Europe/India and elsewhere(?)) that is lower than it would be for a “new to the market offering”. This vehicle fills a hole in their model lineup in the US.

      So, a break-even (at whatever that rate may be – I see an estimated Ford WACC of 5%, which seems ridiculously low) on the car might be acceptable. Given that development costs have (perhaps) mostly been covered when the car first came out overseas.

      Also, I am surprised to see all the hate for this vehicle in the comments – aren’t all the vehicles in this class rather crappy?

      WACC – https://www.stock-analysis-on.net/NYSE/Company/Ford-Motor-Co/DCF/Present-Value-of-FCFF

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Too lazy to look up the prices, but WTF is the co$t of, say, a Honda HR-V? That’s the weight class in which this vehicle punches! And it ain’t much at which to sneeze!

        Three cylinders?! Might be OK in a vehicle sized like that of this site’s last Chief Editor, but only just! A few more hundred pounds and a few more Cds of drag, zzzzzzzzzzzz! (That HR-V might come into its own with the 1.5T! The CR-V with that engine is better than the previous K20, but it’s nothing extraordinary!)

      • 0 avatar

        “Also, I am surprised to see all the hate for this vehicle in the comments”

        TTAC comment section reminds me hate sessions from “1984”. No matter what is discussed there always will hatred from certain commentariat like DW depending on make/model. I find it rather entertaining. Everyone loves to have some hate.

        • 0 avatar
          Wheatridger

          You’re absolutely right– and I hate you for that. ; >

          I think the proper metaphor for TTAC, at this phase, is that it’s a skeet-shooting club.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          Its fun to hate popular things and complain that unpopular things aren’t popular. Except when they become popular, then they’re hated. Rinse, repeat.

          Everybody hated people buying truck-like Explorer and Cherokee because YOU DONT NEED ALL THAT CAPABILITY TO TAKE YOUR KIDS TO SOCCER PRACTICE AND IT DRIVES LIKE A TRUCK. Now, they’re replaced with vehicles that drive more like cars and aren’t really off-road capable, but that’s wrong because WHY BUY A UTILITY WITH NO OFFROAD CHOPS? ITS POINTLESS!

    • 0 avatar
      anomaly149

      @stingray65: the MSRP of $20-27k already includes the assumption that there will be substantial markdown on the vehicle. (probably to the tune of $2k towards end of life) The vehicles are designed for profitability around transaction prices, and MSRPs are placed for marketing standpoints. They might not make a good ROI on the $20k base model with every incentive stacked (might even be negative!), but you can bet you’ll have a real hard time finding more than one on a dealer lot at any given time. That shiny one with moonroofs and power everything? Oh yeah.

      Plus, you gotta remember that a CUV can be less than a thousand dollars more expensive to the OEM than the related car. So an Escape optioned identically to a Focus might only cost 900$ more to the OEM, for example, while the customer pays how much? $5k more? $6k? The whole space = luxury = cost thing is one of the greatest (for the automakers) misconceptions out there.

      Finally, I doubt most folks really realize what options cost. A power liftgate is like 70$ cost to implement. A moonroof is maybe like a hundred and fifty tops. The OEMs get to charge a substantial markup, because customers are willing to pay that markup for content.

    • 0 avatar
      JDG1980

      “So I assume the EcoSport finance guy did his ROI calculations based on the $20 to $27K sticker price and worked his way backwards…”

      Why would you assume that? Almost no one ever pays MSRP for a new car. Ford knows this, and sets MSRP with it already in mind.

  • avatar
    bd2

    This rash and cost-cutting move may end up biting Ford.

    H/K had a subcompact CUV developed for the BRIC markets, but despite the urgent need for such a model in the NA/EU markets, decided against bringing it over and instead, developed another subcompact CUV better suited for the NA/EU markets

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    This CUV came to market and more people will be happy to take it home than readers here at TTAC would predict. Interior is nicer than Trax, the exterior looks pretty decent and pricing is competitive with it’s rivals. Tailgate will send a few buyers elsewhere. No spare tire, few care anymore.

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    My guess is for the money one would be vastly better off with a KIA Soul. Likely considerably better reliability too.

  • avatar
    Dartdude

    I sat in one these at the LA auto show. The interior was major low rent. I expected the the msrp about ten grand. At least that was all I thought it was worth.

  • avatar
    gtem

    The swing-out rear tailgate and general appearance makes me fondly recall the Diahatsu Terios that I rented in CR (I really wish Ford left the spare on the back too), but I think the similarities end there. The Terios was a brilliantly engineered/packaged little 4×4 with a true full-time 4wd system with a solid rear axle, and a simple and proven 1.5L 4 pot backed up with a 5spd manual. This Ford…. not so much. Although the use cases are obviously vastly different as well. I’m sure a Terios would be a miserable tin can to drive on US highways.

  • avatar
    The Ryan

    This looks like they put an Escape in the crusher and had a change of heart a quarter of the way through…

  • avatar
    TMA1

    It’s amazing that the people who brought us the OneFord concept thought that what America needed was the Fiesta, but decided to produce this vehicle only for the third world. Talk about missing the mark!

  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    “Wanna buy a POS Brazilian built Fiesta on stilts? We killed the B-Max for this!”

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