23Ford EcoSport is a small SUV based on the Ford Fiesta, but with a taller body, added ground clearance and a trendy shape. The latter is a pleasant feature in this class of small SUVs, that sets it aside from the somewhat bland bodies of larger SUVs and 4WDs.
Adding to the 4WD look the EcoSport has its spare wheel boldly mounted on the rear door. Boot volume is larger because the spare isn’t taking space in the floor.
Poor design means the rear door is hinged to open to the side – the wrong side for right-hand-drive Australia. So you have to walk out onto the road when parked at the kerb. Not clever Mr Ford – though doubt it keeps manufacturing costs down.
Interestingly, there are traces of the Australian-designed and built Ford Territory in the shape of the wraparound rear window styling.
Bold styling continues inside the cabin, with clever shapes for the centre console area and the binnacle of the instrument panel.
There’s a glovebox that can hold six cans of drink, a drawer under the front passenger seat, a large centre box and useful door pockets, as well as numerous other little nooks and crannies.
December 2017 saw a major revision to the EcoSport. Pretty well everything forward of the windscreen looks different, with a sculpted bonnet featuring a central ‘power’ bulge, a large trapezoidal grille and angular headlights and foglight surrounds. EcoSport’s rear bumper and taillight designs have also received the sculpted look.
Unlike many so-called SUVs that are really just tall hatchbacks, the Ford has 209 mm of ground clearance, putting it close to the 210 mm that 4WD drivers consider to be a minimum for real off-road use.
Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system is standard across the range. It provides voice-activated sat-nav on the upper models of the range Trend and Titanium.
Smartphone can be connected via Bluetooth or USB, with full Apple CarPlay, Siri voice commands and Android Auto compatibility part of the system.
A 6.5-inch screen is used on the entry-level Ambiente, a full-colour display is a full 8.0-inch multi-use touchscreen is fitted on the Trend and Titanium models
Handling is competent and there’s nice chassis balance and reasonably good feel through the steering. Ride comfort is pretty good. Even badly potholed dirt tracks are generally handled with ease. Well done the European designers.
Two petrol engines are offered: a brilliant little 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost turbo-petrol and a somewhat aged 1.5-litre four-cylinder. Peak torque in the runs all the way from 1400 rpm to 4500 rpm, so most drivers will have the engine at its maximum grunt almost all of the time.
The EcoBoost 1.0 engine is only mated to a five-speed manual gearbox so hasn’t had the success it deserves in auto-loving Oz. The 1.5-litre is offered with a five-speed manual or six-speed double-clutch auto. See the What To Look For section of this report for info on the auto.
Ford EcoSport is sold in Ford’s usual range of models: Ambiente, Trend and Titanium.
Access to mechanical components for servicing and minor repairs isn’t over difficult. Call on professionals for anything safety related.
Servicing costs are about average for the class and there are is no shortage of Ford dealers Australia wide. With plenty of them in country areas, even remote ones.
There’s a fair spread of insurance premiums prices. Shop around – but be sure you do an accurate comparison.
As it’s now in its eighth decade the EcoSport is likely to be near the end of its life. If this turns out to be the case keep an eye out for runout special deals as the littles Ford SUV hasn’t been selling all that well in recent times.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Contact a Ford dealer or the company’s head office to see if any work has been done on the EcoSport you’re considering.
Powershift automatics have had quite a few problems. Shuddering is usually the first sign, but some may fail to move the car at all.
Manual gearboxes appear to be trouble free, but make sure all changes are light and quiet. Try some fast downchanges from third to second as this manoeuvre is the most likely to deteriorate first.
Be sure the engine starts within a couple of seconds even when completely cold. Look over the interior, particularly in the rear seats and boot as these are the most likely to be damaged by uncaring use.
Check for signs of previous body repairs by sighting along the panels and looking for ripples. Also look for tiny specs of paint on glass, badges and other unpainted areas.
Exxpect to pay from $6000 to $9000 for a 2013 Ford EcoSport Titanium; $7000 to $11,000 for a 2014 Trend; $8000 to $12,000 for a 2015 Titanium or a 2016 Ambiente; $10,000 to $16,000 for a 2016 Shadow or a 2017 Titanium; $13,000 to $19,000 for a 2018 Titanium; and $15,000 to $22,000 for a 2018 Titanium.
CAR BUYING TIP
Small SUVs, indeed SUVs of any size, are seldom taken off-road. But have a look underneath for damage, particularly at the front.
RECALLS: To browse recalls on all vehicles go to the ACCC at: www.productsafety.gov.au/products/transport/cars/