By on January 16, 2019

2018 Ford EcoSport

2018 Ford EcoSport SES

2.0-liter four-cylinder (166 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm; 149 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm)

Six-speed automatic, four-wheel drive

23 city / 29 highway / 25 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

10.2 city, 8.0 highway, 9.3 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $26,470 (U.S) / $27,899 (Canada)

As Tested: $28,075 (U.S.) / $30,189 (Canada)

Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States and $1,890 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

Ford’s 2018 introduction of the EcoSport is one of the most cynical attempts to quickly capture sales in a suddenly hot category in the long history of automakers trying to do just that..

Challenged to quickly find a way into the fast-growing subcompact crossover class, Ford simply moved the EcoSport – already available in other markets – to the North American market. While that move looks logical on paper, it ignores the reality that the product just isn’t very good.

At first glance, the EcoSport looks like a shrunken Escape, and that’s one of the better things about this small ‘ute – its styling is actually attractive, at least on the outside. I’ve been a fan of the current Escape’s looks since launch, and one could do worse than shortening it up.

The inside isn’t too bad, either, despite the tacked-on infotainment screen. My SES-trim tester was even spiced up with some orange accents.

Looks are one thing, though. Start actually touching the materials, and you’ll notice how cheap they are. Cheap even by the standards of a low-cost class. A few pieces felt a bit loosely put together. Expectations may be low in this class, but not that low. Oh, and wait until you see the sticker price.

Space also felt tight, at least in the rear – passengers complained of a lack of legroom.

2018 Ford EcoSport

On road, the EcoSport initially surprised – it offered good throttle response when accelerating from a dead stop. Try merging, however, and the lack of higher-rev oomph from the 2.0-liter four-cylinder (166 horsepower, 149 lb-ft of torque) makes itself known. Passing and merging aren’t a strong suit, and that’s being kind. It feels like you can make coffee in the time it takes to get up to speed, even though peak torque is available in the mid-range.

The four-banger underhood matches to a six-speed automatic transmission and has to motivate a vehicle with standard “intelligent” four-wheel drive – a vehicle that weighs 3,300 pounds. The 4WD system monitors conditions at each wheel and can adjust torque allotment to each wheel as necessary when traction loss is detected.

I’ll give Ford credit for dialing in some decent steering feel, and the EcoSport generally handled competently. Body roll became an issue in even the gentlest curves, however – even passengers noticed and complained.

At least the ride was compliant enough to forestall most complaints.

2018 Ford EcoSport

Despite the lack of oomph and the body roll, the EcoSport at least offered up more personality than the last Chevy Trax I drove – it’s not the worst subcompact SUV when it comes to driving experience. But it’s way down on the list.

Other issues cropped up. I was confounded by the tailgate that swings out rather than up on an SUV marketed to city dwellers, because a swing-out tailgate complicates loading and unloading cargo when street parked in tight urban quarters. It’s an odd choice that reminds us that the EcoSport was brought here from overseas markets on the quick.

Ford offers the EcoSport in four trims: S, SE, Titanium, and top-trim SES. Ford doesn’t skimp on content for the SES trim, which includes the 300A option group package. Navigation, satellite radio, blind-spot information system, push-button start, MyKey, Sync, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a backup camera, power driver’s seat, tilt/telescope steering wheel, fog lamps, capless fuel filler, moonroof, two USB ports, paddle shifters, and a sport suspension were all standard. So were 17-inch wheels. An optional Cold Weather package added a heated steering wheel, rubber floor mats, heated sideview mirrors, and a windshield-wiper de-icer.

Fuel economy is listed at 23 mpg city/29 mpg highway/25 mpg combined.

The MSRP on my tester was $26,740, with the Cold Weather package adding $340. However, incentives shaved off $2,750, making it $24,330 Add back in the $995 destination and the price finalizes at $25,325.

That pricing undercuts a similarly equipped Jeep Renegade Limited, as well as a Honda HR-V EX-L Navi. It’s also cheaper than the top-trim Trax. But take away the incentives and the pricing equation changes. Now the EcoSport costs more than an HR-V and lines up within one month’s payment or so less than the Jeep. It’s still cheaper than a Trax, though, with or without allowances (at least based on the allowances I saw on consumer sites and the EcoSport’s price sheet, which could regional and/or temporary, and so on).

So, it has value going for it, which is nice. Except that value is highly dependent on incentives.

2018 Ford EcoSport

That’s the thing – on paper, the EcoSport doesn’t sound like a bad choice. It’s cheaper than three key competitors and better than one of them, it has attractive styling inside and out, and you can option out nicely while keeping the sticker low.

Problem is, it doesn’t offer the driving experience of the Renegade or HR-V, the material quality feels compromised, rear-seat room is cramped, the swing-out cargo door hampers utility, the body rolls too much even in gentle cornering, and acceleration is lacking except from a dead stop.

The EcoSport just feels rushed to market. It presents a decent value case at first blush, but the dollar stretch to an HR-V or a Renegade isn’t that much. Ford could’ve done better than this, but with the crossover market so hot, the Blue Oval automaker decided it was better off selling a crossover not meant for this market, and the compromise shows.

There are some redeeming qualities here, but not enough to sign on the dotted line. “At least it’s not a Trax” is not good enough.

[Images: 2019 © Tim Healey/TTAC]

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82 Comments on “2018 Ford EcoSport Review – Value Doesn’t Excuse the Rush...”


  • avatar
    carguy

    Too small, too slow, too thirsty and way too expensive.

  • avatar
    mjg82

    “its styling is actually attractive, at least on the outside.”

    …Really? That bulbous front end sits as awkwardly on it’s front wheels as a Chevy Uplander.

    Wait 6 months and watch how many rental units have the ugly chrome tailgate handle ripped off by people who don’t know how to open the door.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    A picture of the rear ‘swing out” door would have been appreciated.

    • 0 avatar
      teddyc73

      You’re on the internet…look it up!

      • 0 avatar
        Dingleberrypiez_Returns

        “You’re on the internet…look it up!”

        What a cop out. TTAC’s reviews have been on a downward trend for a while. It pains me to say this, but they could at least take a cue from Jalopnik and compliment their milquetoast reviews with high quality photographs… or at least something better than the four photos here, which look like they were shot on an iPhone 5 with some of the worst shadow conditions possible.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    All this could be forgiven with more motor (200 hp say) or real off road chops.

    • 0 avatar
      SirRaoulDuke

      The writer speaks of incentives…well right now you can get a leftover 2018 Renegade Trailhawk for $22k all day long, and it is the only one in this segment with any real off road chops.

  • avatar
    redapple

    And the TRAX is worse?
    Whoa !!!

    • 0 avatar
      cpthaddock

      If I’d been writing this review, I could have recycled at least 80% of the content from a review the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka (= Chevrolet Trax relative). Differences? Tim and I differ on the looks and I found the handling of the Mokka to be it’s only bright spot, even if it was rarely tested by significant velocity.

      The Mokka (from experience) and Ecosport (Tim’s experience) remind me of little more than modern day versions of the ’88 to ’93 Pontiac LeMans and the ’93 to ’97 Ford Asspire.

      • 0 avatar
        darex

        Funny you should mention the Pontiac (KIA) LeMans! I cited that car, to my younger coworkers just today, as the worst and cheapest quality car I had ever driven, only to be “WORSTED” by the Ecosport. Yes, it’s THAT bad!

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Except the LeMans and Aspire were actually DIRT cheap in their day. This is not. This thing costs base GTI money, never mind base Golf money, and you would have to be a complete moron to buy one over a Golf. Heck, if you really need jacked up and AWD, a Golf ALLTRACK is cheaper than this little turd.

        Luckily for Ford, the US is filled with complete morons.

  • avatar
    gtem

    These things make sense bouncing down a poorly paved or graded road at low speed (assuming reasonable steel wheels and fatter sidewall). Where they don’t make sense is on American highways. We had a rental Hyundai Creta in Siberia and it did rather well, and had all the same flaws as this EcoSport, but with less power (1.6L I4). Cushy ride that ate up bad pavement, did fine on the two lane 90kph limit “highway” from Novosibirsk to Biysk, and even did fine with a load of driver+4 passengers on the twisty roads in the foothills of the Altai mountain region. It’s a matter of perspective: the Creta was a good fit there, but I would never, ever buy on in the US.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      “These things make sense bouncing down a poorly paved or graded road at low speed ”

      In other words perfect for the roads in municipalities where public employee pay and pension costs have eaten up the road maintenance budget.

      I can think of many places in the US like that.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I’ve seen exactly 1 of these on the road in crossover crazy KC. Unfortunately , it looks worse in real life.I mean clown car ugly. I know it’s just a placeholder , but I feel sorry for the Latin Americans having to buy/drive these for years.

  • avatar
    jatz

    So how’s it selling?

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    By a mile, the worst entry in the segment. Cannot believe someone could drive this back-to-back with HRV, Crosstrek, Rogue Sport, Renegade, etc. and say “Yep, this is the one I want.”

  • avatar
    gasser

    Carsalesbase says that Ford sold over 54K of these in 2018. Pretty impressive. I’m sure the dealers are happy. For me, I don’t see the advantage of this over a Honda HR-V, or moving up one class in size. Importing this vehicle was a quick answer to getting a presence in this category, but certainly not a “best in class” effort. However, having moved 54K of these in 2018, perhaps the additional develpment costs and a significant lag in getting to the market, weren’t worth it and the bean counters were correct. Ford certainly needs a product that makes a profit.

  • avatar
    DedBull

    One thing that jumped out to me was the 4 lug wheels.

    The swing out tailgate is different, but probably doesn’t require a whole lot more room than a similar sized vertical gate. Doesn’t Jeep get away with it as the tire carrier on the Wrangler?

  • avatar
    teddyc73

    A company finds a way to quickly bring a product to market to take advantage of a popular segment…who would have thought!? That opening paragraph as to be the dumbest thing I have read today.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      But the reality is that Ford, no small conglomerate with world-wide resources, decided to bring a full POS instead of developing something more suitable for our market and expectation. It’s not like the Buick hasn’t been out for 5 years successfully, and the HR-V for 3. This is Ford being lazy and phoning it in.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Ford’s customers are special. The product is irrelevant.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    >>paddle shifters

    I’ll take “things that will only be used once” for $800

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    The swing-out tailgate is because, in other markets, the EcoSport’s tailgate includes a spare tire. For another example of this, see the Lexus GX (which shares a body and frame with the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado).

    I drove one of these and didn’t think the materials were that bad. The Trax was, yes, worse in every metric. I do think both are overpriced. Despite not particularly liking Nissan products, my pick would probably be the Rogue Sport.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    JohnTaurus is going to seethe at this review.

    But it’s nice to see an honest assessment. Ford has lost their way and this is another example of that. The reviews from day one have been harsh on this POS but it’s well deserved. Power sucks, quality sucks, fuel economy sucks, and it’s costs a ton.

    It’s incrediable Ford finds 5,500 suckers to buy one of these every month.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      No mystery at all – just pulled up a local search on Autotrader. The thing’s been on the market for seven or eight months, and there’s already 16 available in my area used. The majority are ex-rentals.

      Give it a few months and you’ll see even more.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    I look at this thing, and I don’t see $25-28k, and I don’t see why it weighs 3300 lbs., and I don’t see why it only gets 29 mpg hwy. But because the sh!tbox compact CUV class is red hot, Ford will sell every one it can build. Caveat emptor.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    Wow, I thought the Kia Soul and then the Buick Encore had the ultimate clown car look. Now this…..it keeps getting worse.

    • 0 avatar
      CobraJet

      The Buick dealer in my city has hundreds of Encores in stock in every color. He advertises them at $15,950. Most likely he has some stripped models at that price.

      A manager at that dealer told me they are the largest volume seller of Encores in the US. I see them all over town.

      A lady at work has one that is finished really nice on the inside. I doubt she got it at that low
      price.

      I agree the body shape looks awkward and out of proportion some how.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      The Soul is a cute little box. This thing is a blob.

      Normally I hate the oversized wheel craze but this EcoSport needs bigger wheels. The proportions make it look like it only has 13″ wheels. The review doesn’t mention it but they actually 16 or 17″ (depending on trim).

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “the price finalizes at $25,325”

    Dayymmmmnnn.

    ““At least it’s not a Trax” is not good enough.”

    I’m still waiting for the Trax/Ecosport head to head review.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    “The EcoSport just feels rushed to market.”

    Come, come sir. It’s been on the go since 2003. They’ve had 15 years. The Second Gen, known by Europeans as Gen 1 because that’s when it first came out for them in 2013, was refreshed at the time of the move to Romanian production for them. Rumour has it the US version from India is also uppraded to a certain extent.

    If after a good five years of Ford producing this general body style, you find it just feeling rushed to market, a nice way of saying underdeveloped, the fault is entirely Ford’s, and obviously mere words cannot fully describe its rubbiosh-ity.

    Folks trapped by their loan not coming through for an Escape, but enough for this “fine vehicle” recommended by the “nice” salesmen buy them. What they can’t flog to the crosseyed, they unload on rental companies cheap. Ekosport is the antithesis of aspiration – it’s the sentence to bread and water for years to come. It’s painfully awful in all respects. The worst. Europeans certainly think so, but then the Trax is a decontented Korean version of the origjnal Opel Mokka and not available in Europe.

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    If this is attractive, what’s left to be UNattractive?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Ahahahahahahahahaha.

    MY18 Ford EcoSpurt 4WD I4 SES

    BASE MMR
    $16,050

    Avg Odo (mi)
    15,125

    Avg Cond
    4.6

    Typical Range
    $15,550 -$16,550

    MY18 Ford EcoSpurt 4WD I4 Titanium

    BASE MMR
    $16,300

    Avg Odo (mi)
    15,053

    Avg Cond
    4.7

    Typical Range
    $15,750 -$16,850

    MY18 Ford EcoSpurt 4WD I4 SE

    BASE MMR
    $18,150

    Avg Odo (mi)
    10,091

    Avg Cond
    4.7

    Typical Range
    $17,250 -$19,100

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      And this is for a vehicle that just hit the market maybe eight months ago.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Precisely, hence my maniacal laugh. The block typically punishes half-assed stuff like this and here we are. Juxtapose this with what I purchased new for 17,5 a 20K model, which was worth 15,5 in extra clean condition. This thing is like many Hyundai/Kias in it will *bury* people. I’d love to be a fly on the wall in about a year and a half when these POS’s start to come in on trade.

        I’m sorry Bob but we can only give you 15 for your EcoSpurt but you still owe 20… (seriously though Hyundais do this kind of thing too, 20K new Elantras trade for 10 in like two MYs).

  • avatar
    bd2

    The EcoSport was developed for BRIC countries, but Ford decided to do things on the cheap and just offer it here instead of developing a separate model.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    I guess could say the styling is an achievement … because it seems Ford may have finally hit the elusive 2:1 ratio. I am referring, of course, to the ratio of cowl height to tire height. Only Little Tikes does it better.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    At one point I thought I’d like this thing because it was so weird looking. I thought it could be fun to drive in an ironic sort of way, but if anything it’s even more repellent than the first time I laid eyes on it on person. I would still drive a Juke were it offered for sale and had I a need for the vehicle class.

    I had a bog standard 14 Escape S and I would take that over a loaded EcoSport any day of the week. It was FWD, bit even the mileage on that was 32 on the freeway, if I recall correctly.

    If I were looking for a subcompact crossover for any reason, I’d seriously consider the Renegade or CX-3 strictly because the proportions work for me. Alas, I’m not so the point is moot.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Best thing in this class is the Kona. Unfortunately, given how lame this class is, that’s faint praise. At least if you option up the Kona correctly with the 1.6T, it’s (somewhat) entertaining to drive. But then you’re looking at $28,000 or so, which puts it in Tucson territory.

    I don’t think any of the vehicles in this class make a lick of sense, but I’m on record with this car making the least sense of all.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      The Soul makes a ton of sense, but the only people who put it in this class are journalists.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Agreed, the Soul’s a great car, but it’s FWD only, so it is kind of a different beast.

        I used to pooh-pooh people for wanting AWD, and then a funny thing happened – I bought a car with it (Audi A3) and damned it I don’t find myself really liking it.

  • avatar
    darex

    We have a middling trim Ecosport at work (what were they thinking!?).

    Like the article says, it’s SHOCKINGLY cheap, like early Daewoo cheap! It already rattles, and squeaks, with less than 1500 miles on it [nobody likes driving it, so it hardly has any miles on it]. The mandated back-up camera on our trim-level is very small. It has active guidance lines. Unfortunately, they have ZERO to do with the actual width of the car, so if you make the mistake of trusting them, as you can in any other car, then you’re in for a surprise, as you hit a vertical object, you had convinced yourself you’d easily miss.

    My advice, RUN FAR AWAY from this horrible piece of crap, and buy ANYTHING ELSE, and you’ll be glad you did! It’s that horrible!

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Ford loves putting those tiny 4″ x 3″ camera screens in its base models. I think they’re specifically designed to embarrass buyers into spending more on a higher trim with Sync3.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Why no mention of the Nissan Kicks? It’s out there, and better than this thing. But I have to say, I’ve only ever seen one Kicks.

  • avatar
    jatz

    Most all y’all just don’t appreciate the new supremacy of roof and ride height with something easily garageable.

    Gtem gets it.

  • avatar
    pdog_phatpat

    BREAKING NEWS everybody! In case you havent read it here for 500th time or elsewhere for the same amount, the stop gap Ecosport isnt very good. In fact, it sucks! Man, thank GOD you guys reminded us or we might have forgotten. Whewwwww, I know I’m safe in my next purchase now!

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      It’s costs no more money to just do it right. Yet Ford can seemingly never learn that lesson

      Don’t defend this. It’s pathetic. There is no reason Ford needed to rush this to the market. Or, rush it but make changes to make it more of a quality vehicle. Better materials, redesign the dash, change lights to LED, swap in an engine with a turbo, etc. Small simple things would have gone a long way to make this a decent entry. But, like history (and the future with the recent vehicle introductions) have shown us, Ford is only interested in giving about 50% effort. They’re like the new Toyota. Bland vehicles and rather than innovating they are resting on their laurels.

      • 0 avatar
        pdog_phatpat

        I’m not defending anything. I was making a sarcastic remark. Ford rushed this to fill a hole. If its crappy well, dont buy it. It appears plenty are. Your opinion here isnt any more weighted than mine is. You have your experience, I have mine. I have never driven an Ecosport, but I’ve never owned a vehicle this new either. I might find it a great vehicle, who knows. It certainly is too small for me. Your “future and with recent introductions” comment however, is just flat out wrong. But hey, you keep on with your rhetoric filled agenda and I’ll keep on with mine.

  • avatar
    scott25

    I agree the Trax might just edge it for being the worst in a terrible class. The Ecosport wins on city drivability, interior, “personality”, the Trax wins on highway driving, exterior styling (barely), and price. Since these are mean to to be city vehicles the Ecosport wins. Driving one on the highway though was terrifying and it’s second only to the CLA as the most depressing vehicle to look at on sale today.

    The Trax’s main problem is that the Encore exists. It’s a far better execution of the same basic vehicle in every way for basically the same price.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    It’s bad when a new Mitsubishi looks like a great deal compared to this.

  • avatar
    fshock

    I don’t find anything particularly egregious about the Ecosport other than the price. At 28k this thing is a turd compared to the Renegade. Hopefully they make a boatload of cash to finance some R&D.

  • avatar

    This is a dung cart from Hackett and friends. POS!

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Interesting that in every case current Trax owners in LT and higher trim levels seem to really like their vehicles enough so that mom has been eye balling them the past few months to replace her old Impala. They are everywhere and many of her friends have them. No Ecosport owners to speak of to compare to but it seems like comparing the two is liking comparing vanilla with chocolate or black vs white. My local dealer has a few 2018 Ecosport S base trims for 18499 and has some 2018 Trax LT’s with more equipment for 19499 so I would say the real transaction pricing is very close.


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