When I concluded my retrospective on the first generation Escape last month I noted Ford’s current absence in the expanding mid-size pickup and subcompact crossovers segments. For 2018 Ford will have filled one of those holes, and like the Escape it will be arriving years after the competition, although this time its late introduction only applies to the United States.
The Escape successfully grew into its own by adopting the styling of the extremely popular Explorer. This time around Ford is largely using the same playbook, with the refreshed EcoSport borrowing design themes currently used on the Escape, Edge, and Transit.
As demonstrated by this humorous ad, Ford did the same thing for the first generation EcoSport, which debuted in 2003. I’d say it looks quite a bit like the third generation Explorer.
While the Ecosport is popular in South America and India, its caught some flak from European auto critics for its lack of on-road refinement. I imagine Ford has rectified this problem with the refresh.
What Ford couldn’t do was engineer a vertically opening tailgate with the current design, which was built for a mounted spare. I suspect Dearborn just wanted to get the EcoSport here as fast as possible and some compromises had to be made for that to happen. Will this turn away customers? I could understand if car shoppers decided to go elsewhere after realizing this setup couldn’t work for them. Then again, the Rav4 got away with a similar configuration until its current generation, so maybe it won’t have much of an impact.
Upon its introduction, the Escape was available with a class leading V6 engine, which put out 201 horsepower. These days Ford is more concerned with amenities, and likely the consumer is as well, so the class leading features now reside inside the cabin. The optional Sync 3 system is displayed on an 8 inch touchscreen which Ford claims is best in class. There is also an available B&O Play sound system with a total of 675 watts going through 10 speakers, including a subwoofer. According to my research that wattage figure is also best in class, as the BeatsAudio system in the Renegade “only” puts out 503 watts.
I just hope this is the first and last use of the “floating screen” motif in a Ford.