Good For: Progressive little Ford. At first glance, the little EcoSport looked humble and unassuming amongst all the choices in the Hertz lot. But then I spotted the Titanium AWD trim badges, and was pursuaded to try it. The tall profile does a great job maximizing utility from the same platform that underpins subcompacts like the Fiesta and Mazda 2. The narrow cabin and small footprint will never let you forget that you are driving a small car, which is good if you are looking for that kind of manuverability in the city. The rear seats look deceptively microscopic at first but the car's tall profile allows them to be quite usable for adults. Once I figured out the rear door swings out, not up, I discovered how surprisingly roomy the low-floor cargo area is too. I plugged my iPhone into one of the two USB ports to charge it, and found out how easy the CarPlay integration is, instantly having my music and navigation instructions up and running on the touch screen. The Bang Olufsen audio sounded great.
Compromises: The "Eco" part of the model seems to keep to Ford's preference to name cars starting with the letter E. But there doesn't seem to be any real economy for the consumer. It is not really an entry-level car, and price points at each trim level are comparable to competing cars, but not particularly competitive. At least the AWD option package is only around $1500, and includes an engine upgrade. Even with auto start-stop, fuel economy reflects that of an SUV, not an economy car. Similarly, the "Sport" part of the name references an SUV, rather than any idea that a tall heavy car with aggressive traction control can be called a sports car.
Overall reaction - None: The EcoSport sports all the latest elements of a modern car, but there is nothing particularly exciting about it for the driver. Subcompact crossovers have been part of global lineups for a while now. When the market progressed towards tall compacts in the United States, Ford just brought in the global model already in production. The EcoSport is the first car manufactured in India to be imported into the United States. The true meaning of EcoSport is not found in the driving experience, but is rather showing how globalization enables car companies to introduce new models into markets with superior economics, speed, and agility.