2018 Ford EcoSport First Drive: Downsizing Driving

– Cleveland, Ohio

Ford has taken full advantage of the now three-decades-long SUV boom. Its lineup includes the compact Escape, midsize Edge, three-row Explorer, and big-enough-to-tow-a-boat Expedition (plus the Flex, whatever that thing is). Yet there’s always room for one more when it comes to SUVs, and since anything bigger than the Expedition would classify as construction equipment, the brand has gone smaller, adding the subcompact EcoSport to its SUV family. This interesting class of small, inexpensive, high-riding runabouts is already packed with competitors, but never count Ford out when it comes to SUVs.

2018 Ford EcoSport: First Drive

Truth be told, the EcoSport isn’t really an all-new vehicle; it’s been sold in South America since 2003, and it reached China, India, and other global markets when it was redesigned in 2012. That’s when this generation of the EcoSport came into being. Ford debuted a significant update for the second-generation model at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show, where an American-market version that would go on sale in 2018 was announced. And here it is.

Despite its diminutive size, the EcoSport looks for all the world like a real SUV. Its hexagonal-ish grille, large headlights, and faux skid plate are familiar Ford styling cues, and the 7.8 inches of ground clearance is a 1.5 inches more than a Chevy Trax can muster and half an inch higher than a Honda HR-V.

The cargo area, as well, is large enough to earn the U in SUV. While it may look compromised by the EcoSport’s short r...