Just ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show, amidst stretched metaphors about small things with big presence, Ford lifted the cover on its newest product for the North American market – the EcoSport.
The EcoSport will be the newest, and smallest, addition to Ford’s expansive crossover lineup. Smaller than the Ford Escape, the EcoSport is based on the same platform currently utilized by the subcompact Fiesta.
Ford, like nearly every other automaker lately, has been doubling down on a trend toward small crossovers. And buyers can’t seem to get enough of them.
Year-to-date 2016, Canadian shoppers have bought nearly as many subcompact crossovers as they have subcompact cars (46,333 vs 49,418 as of September 30). While the subcompact car segment is now well fleshed out, some manufacturers – like Ford – have yet to enter that small crossover segment.
The EcoSport, while entirely new for Canada and the United States, is a model that’s been around in other global markets since 2003. Ford has moved 1.7 million of them in the past 13 years, and expects the segment to double in sales by 2020.
Positioned as a 2018 model-year vehicle, the Ford EcoSport will feature two powertrains, either front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive, and a standard six-speed automatic transmission. A turbocharged 1.0 litre three-cylinder engine is standard and only available with FWD. AWD will be an option in combination with the more powerful 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine.
The EcoSport will also be available in four trim choices: base S, a well equipped SE, SES featuring a “refined rugged” look, and Titanium for a “premium refined” look. SES trimmed models feature a number styling choices like blacked out grilles, and two-toned interiors furthering that bolder, refined rugged look Ford seems eager to promote for the EcoSport.
Cabin technology and functionality seem to be the true highlight of the EcoSport. Ford’s vastly improved SYNC 3 system along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will be available scoring the new EcoSport a big win on the connectivity front.
We’ll also see the application of Ford’s recent partnership with B&O Play in the new crossover. A 10-speaker B&O Play system capable of pumping out 675 watts will be an option, furthering Ford’s small-big metaphor.
Two fast-charging USB ports, and two 12-volt outlets come standard while a proper 110-volt power outlet will be available in the compact crossover. Throughout the cabin, Ford’s positioned up to 30 storage pockets, bins and hooks aiming to give customers as many options as possible for putting away your stuff.
Fold-away rear seats allow for a flat floor for moving larger items, making it the first time we’ve seen this feature in a vehicle of this size.
At its unveil in Los Angeles’ famous Hollywood and Highland neighbourhood, the EcoSport also marked a world’s first: the first Snapchat unveil of a new automotive product. Partnering with musician, and self-proclaimed ‘King of Snapchat’, DJ Khaled, Ford built their EcoSport unveil around livestreaming to the social media platform. Also on stage was Ryan Seacrest of American Idol fame, and rapper Fat Joe who gave the select audience a performance.
The upcoming EcoSport will be built at Ford’s Chennai factory in India. This marks the first time an Indian-built Ford product will sell in North America. While we’re more than a year away from 2018 Ford EcoSports hitting showroom floors, we speculate pricing to start at around the $20k mark.
In a market where consumers are fast coming to expect taller ride heights and AWD capability, the EcoSport seems well positioned with a focus on technology and utility. Coupled with a marked push to create brand hype among young buyers, it is entirely plausible that Ford’s upcoming compact crossover will reach the lofty goals Ford has for it.