New Ford EcoSport: Subcompact crossover U.S. bound
Offering a look at what’s heading here in early 2018, Ford unveiled a redrafted version of its smallest crossover SUV, the EcoSport at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Available in global markets since 2003, this upgraded Gen III model will be the first version sold in America -- although the automaker has not yet confirmed whether it will be introduced here as a 2018 or 2019 model. However, it sets the pattern for EcoSport models that will appear in other parts of the world. Based on Ford’s latest global B-car platform that also underpins the Fiesta, the EcoSport is aimed at young, active-lifestyle buyers as well as free-spirited empty nesters. It blends contemporary styling with a host of upscale features and connected technology.
While keeping the basic platform, shape and 98.0-inch wheelbase of the current model, the recast EcoSport gains a host of U.S. specific enhancements and a bolder and more contemporary fascia and lamp treatments. It will be available in S, SE, SES and Titanium trim grades. While the leather-lined Titanium will be the plushest variant, with standard equipment that include a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, AWD and unique interior/exterior styling cues, Ford expects the SES to be the volume model. Ford plans to offer plenty of options across the entire EcoSport lineup, including a choice of 10 exterior colors and seven interior ambient lighting configurations.
Motivation for this new Ford will come from two sources, both backed by conventional 6-speed automatic transmissions, including the SES that comes with shifter paddles. Front-drive EcoSports will have a 1.0-liter/3-cylinder EcoBoost engine while those fitted with Ford’s intelligent 4WD all-wheel drive will pack a direct-injected 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. Ford was not ready to offer output specs on either engine.
Inside, the EcoSport’s 5-passenger cabin features front buckets matched with a foldaway 60/40 split rear seat that offers decent head and leg room for a pair of average-size adults and can handle three in a pinch. While no capacity figures were provided, the EcoSport has a multi-position cargo floor and a large, swing-away rear gate that provides easy access to large load space.
On the connectivity front, the new EcoSport offers Ford’s latest Sync3 infotainment system with enhanced voice recognition. Activated via a high-mounted “floating” 8.0-inch high-res smartphone-style touchscreen that supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, it includes Sync Connect with FordPass to let owners use their phone to check on the status of various vehicle systems. All EcoSports come with dual USB charging ports and a 12V powerpoint up front plus a second 12V plug in the rear area as well as an optional 110V AC rear outlet.
Audiophiles should find a good deal to like about the EcoSport’s available Bang &Olufsen Play audio system. Designed by Harman and standard-issue on Titanium models, this Ford-exclusive setup boasts 10-speakers and 675 watts of power. The EcoSport also offers HD Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
Ford promises to provide more details about the new EcoSport in the coming months. Expect its sticker price to rival competitors like the Chevrolet Trax, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-3, Nissan Juke and the new Toyota C-HR. The EcoSport is Ford’s best-selling small SUV outside of the U.S. While extending that primacy to America will be a Herculean effort, Ford appears committed to shooting for number one status here as well.
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