By Derek Price
The Ford EcoSport feels like a vehicle designed by a big-name tech company.
Its features list is virtually a NASDAQ ticker tape. It can come with Apple CarPlay for people with iPhones, Android Auto for people with Google-powered smartphones, along with Waze, Alexa and other popular apps. They’re all available in this compact crossover vehicle that seemingly is designed as much for connecting to your smartphone as it is for driving you from Point A to Point B.
In fact, the first time I drove an EcoSport I struggled to understand its appeal within the metrics of my old-style brain. In terms of horsepower, handling and cabin materials, it felt mediocre, not something that stands out within its hotly competitive, fast-growing class of competitors.
Even its gas mileage of 27 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway isn’t that impressive for its compact size.
After driving it for a week, though, I came to a realization: this vehicle isn’t designed for people like me. It’s built for a new generation of buyers who care less about those old-fashioned metrics and more about whether they can get Waze to work on the 8-inch touchscreen.
Granted, even a 37-year-old pseudo-geezer like me can appreciate the glorious beauty of Waze’s intelligent navigation and “police reported ahead” warnings that help you avoid tickets through the car’s screen and sound system. I also like knowing you can use the powerful Amazon Alexa services while on the road to do your shopping, control smart devices at home and much more.
Both those services are connected through Ford’s SYNC 3 AppLink, which lets you control a short list of compatible smartphone apps through the vehicle’s touchscreen instead of your phone itself. AccuWeather, iHeartRadio, Pandora and more are compatible with it.
SYNC Connect with FordPass adds more capability, including the ability to start, unlock and find your vehicle remotely using a smartphone app.
Power in most trim levels comes from a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine that makes 123 horsepower. The SES trim comes with all-wheel drive and is powered by a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 166-horse engine.
Aside from the tech features, the EcoSport’s main selling point is its market positioning in the hottest part of the car world. It’s sized and priced like a compact car, making it easy for maneuvering in urban areas and affordable for young buyers.
Unlike compact sedans or hatchbacks, though, it’s styled more like an SUV or truck. It has an upright stance, good visibility and impressive cargo capacity when the back seats are folded flat, all reasons this class of vehicle is so trendy in 2018.
Pricing starts at $19,995 for the base S trim and ranges up to $26,880 for the more powerful and sporty SES.
At A Glance
What was tested?
2018 Ford EcoSport Titanium ($25,880). Options: White platinum paint ($595). Price as tested (including $995 destination charge): $27,470
Wheelbase: 99.2 in.
Length: 161.3 in.
Width: 81 in.
Height: 65.1 in.
Engine: 1.0-liter three cylinder (123 hp, 125 ft-lbs)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 27 city, 29 highway
Why buy it?
At a time when smartphone connectivity is more important than ever, the EcoSport offers an impressive feature set and stylish crossover look at an affordable price.