I visited Mac Haik’s Southway Ford a few days ago; I was part of an influencer meet organized by Live From The Southside media group. There, local influencers gathered to see and test drive new Ford products from a local dealership.
The day before had been spent driving from Dallas to San Antonio, a drive that ended with drinks over good company. My mind felt burnt out as I parked on the dealership’s parking lot at 12:30. The sun was at full charge, beaming down blinding sunlight over the land of the Blue Oval. A row of 2019 Ford Bullitt Mustangs caught my attention as I walked toward the showroom, enough Bullitts to fill a revolver, each one dressed with a big red tag signaling an SOS to buy them now. I took a moment to memorize this sight, while thinking about old photos of new 1966 GT350 Mustangs parked in front of no-longer-existing Ford dealerships.
Not being in the mood to swap hashtags with influencers, I focused my attention toward the vehicle I wanted to test drive – the 2019 Ford EcoSport. I wanted to see Ford’s blue jellybean for myself and see what it had to offer compared to other small compact CUV’s.
THE FIRST IMPRESSION: I asked the sales rep if I could drive the EcoSport in the most popular trim they sold. Soon I was walking around a Lightning Blue 2019 Ford EcoSport SE. First impression: the EcoSport is endearing – this is what European Ford buyers drive. The EcoSport’s standard engine is a 1.0 liter 3-cylinder turbocharged engine that produces 125hp horsepower. This is an engine that can sit on a sheet of paper. This baby EcoBoost engine is tiny and brilliant! It has won the International Engine of the Year, in the Best Engine Under 1.0-liter category, multiple times since debuting in 2012.
The seats are ebony cloth and feel forgiving as I step inside. Small CUV’s always feel like I’m sitting on a stool with a steering wheel in front of me. And that’s the whole point of a CUV – taller rooflines make it easier for people to step in and out of vehicles. The EcoSport SE looks well equipped, with an 8-inch LCD touch screen and an array of buttons (including heated seats) placed around the climate control switches. A real handbrake makes me smile. The steering wheel and dashboard are plastic and feel dry to the touch.
On the road, the EcoSport manages to get up to speed quite well. You would never suspect the engine was this small, as it performs like a traditional four-cylinder. The 1.0 EcoBoost works efficiently to squeeze every horsepower and pound of torque as frugally as possible. The handling is what you’d expect. It turns when you tell it to turn, and if you take a sharp turn you will get rollover-anxiety. Overall, the 2019 Ford EcoSport is a compact crossover that doesn’t feel small, and can seat four people comfortably while averaging 28 mph.
THE DISCONNECT (1): First of all, I don’t understand why Ford named it the EcoSport. The name EcoSport sounds like a drive mode on a Ford Mustang. History has shown how difficult it can be to find the right name for a vehicle, but surely there was a better option than EcoSport. My pet peeve comes from Ford saying that it’s an EcoSport powered by EcoBoost. It’s repetitive, and makes the subcompact crossover sound more like an appliance that has been removed from all ideology of car ownership.
THE DISCONNECT (2): Also, why would someone would buy/lease a Ford EcoSport instead of a Ford Escape? The Escape is bigger, offers most of the same equipment packages and the prices between the two models overlap. I went to Ford.com and built my own EcoSport SE and Escape SE and the difference in price was less than two thousand dollars. So, why buy anything smaller than a Ford Escape? The EcoSport’s trunk space is as small as its engine. The rear door opens sideways rather than up like a traditional hatchback. The tailgate is misleading. The huge door is a trick like putting a mirror behind a buffet table to make you think it’s longer than it actually is. Granted, the rear seats do fold down, but true trunk space is a couple of inches wider than my cowboy hat.
Prices for the 2019 Ford EcoSport starts at $19k and can climb into the low 30’s with the Titanium and SES models. There is nothing wrong with Ford’s EcoSport. It is a charming little vehicle and I love the engine, but I can’t imagine someone paying over $30 Large for one of these, when Ford offers so many other vehicles in that price range with more performance, space, capability, and status.