The 2018 Ford EcoSport is on sale in Australia this week, sporting refreshed styling, a new interior, an improved value equation with much more available equipment and hopefully according to Ford, more appeal to small SUV buyers. Pricing has remained static at $22,790 plus on-road costs, though upper models cost more due to more standard equipment.
The revised EcoSport follows the confirmation of the Endura name for Ford’s new large SUV, and forms part of the brand’s efforts to increase the appeal of all their models sold in Australia. Following the EcoSport will be a model year refresh for the Escape mid-size SUV, the Everest large SUV and Mondeo mid-sizer.
“The Ford EcoSport brings a new, smart look to Ford’s expanding SUV line-up, but importantly allows Australians – who we know love SUVs – a compact vehicle that offers a raised seating position, interior space and overall flexibility,” said Ford President and CEO, Graeme Whickman.
“That’s why we’ve seen SUVs overtake passenger car sales in 2017, and we’ve responded to this with a broader range for Australians to choose from, with a new Escape, more Everest models and the confirmation that we will launch the all-new Endura in 2018.”
First launched in Australia in 2013, the EcoSport was actually one of the first in a new breed of small SUVs on the market. Ford had high hopes for its small SUV, but the arrival of rivals Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V showed the EcoSport up in both ability and sales impact. For 2018 however, the EcoSport has undergone a significant mid-life update – much more thorough than most – in order to appeal to a wider audience, including for the first time, the North American market.
Counting the discontinuation of the manual transmission that accounted for a small percentage of sales, pricing continues from the same point as before – $22,790 plus on-road costs for the entry-level Ambiente. The former 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine has been replaced by a new three-cylinder unit of the same displacement with 90kW of power and 150Nm of torque – 8kW and 10Nm more than before. Ford lists fuel consumption at 6.9L/100km for this engine.
The turbocharged three-cylinder EcoBoost 1.0-litre unit with 92kW/170Nm continues as before, though Ford is quick to point out that both engines now come with a six-speed torque converter automatic – the PowerShift dual-clutch automatic has been discontinued. The EcoBoost engine uses 6.7L/100km on a combined cycle. All Australian EcoSport models remain front-wheel drive, despite a 2.0-litre petrol/all-wheel drive option being available in North America.
The biggest news with the 2018 Ford EcoSport is the car’s revised styling and new interior, which positions it stylistically more in line with the car’s bigger brother Escape. A new front end with a new bonnet makes the car look thoroughly more modern than before, with a new trapezoidal grille that features on all Ford SUVs. The headlights in particular are much more angled than before, giving the car a more aggressive look – they’re also more high-tech, with HID bulbs and LED daytime running lights on the Titanium, though unfortunately not on any other model.
One criticism of the old car – its side-mounted boot with a spare tyre sitting on the outside – has not been addressed, though Ford says that within six months the tyre will be replaced with a inflation kit and the boot will feature the number plate housing of overseas market EcoSport models. This does mean that the EcoSport will be unavailable with a spare tyre, however, and the side-hinged boot will remain.
The interior of the 2018 Ford EcoSport also receives a new layout to bring it right up to date. Being one the latest worldwide Ford products, it receives the tablet-style layout from the new Fiesta, with a 6.5-inch (Ambiente) or 8.0-inch (Trend and Titanium) touchscreen sitting proudly atop the dashboard. The materials have received a higher-quality finish – something very needed in the old model – and even the rear seats have received a new folding mechanism that allows them to fold flat for the first time. The boot itself hasn’t grown, though it is now available with a dual-level design on all models.
The 2018 Ford EcoSport lineup continues as before – the entry-level Ambiente, mid-level Trend and high-end Titanium are still offered. All models are better equipped than before, however some features such as autonomous emergency braking – available on the Focus since 2012 – remain unavailable.
The entry-level $22,790 plus on-road costs EcoSport Ambiente arrives with seven airbags, 16-inch steel wheels, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Ford’s SYNC3 operating system and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, DAB+ digital radio, cruise control and a reversing camera with rear parking sensors.
Step up to the $24,490 EcoSport Trend, and you earn the EcoBoost engine, as well as black roof rails, 16-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a rear centre armrest with cupholders, a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen with inbuilt satellite navigation and live traffic updates and a seven-speaker sound system.
The $28,990 plus on-road costs EcoSport Titanium is then equipped with larger 17-inch alloy wheels, a chrome-finished front grille, HID headlights, automatic headlights and wipers, electric-folding mirrors with puddle lamps, silver roof rails, a power sunroof, leather seat trim, keyless entry and start, climate control, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, a centre console armrest, front parking sensors and the EcoSport’s only active safety equipment: blind-spot monitoring and rear traffic alert.
2018 Ford EcoSport pricing (plus on-road costs):
Ambiente 1.5-litre petrol automatic: $22,790
Trend 1.0-litre turbo petrol automatic: $24,990
Titanium 1.0-litre turbo petrol automatic: $28,990
The Ford EcoSport’s 1,234 sales for 2017 thus far are well below what its main rivals sell per month. So far in 2017, the Mitsubishi ASX has sold 17,275 and the Mazda CX-3 just behind on 16,204 – even the tight-supplied Toyota C-HR has sold 5,618. Ford will be counting on the update of this car to bring in the customers – especially when the Ranger ute accounts for 54 percent of the brand’s local sales and the Mustang sports car (which starts north of $50,000) is Ford’s second-best selling car here. Rolling updates to the Mondeo, Escape, Everest and this EcoSport update are hoped to help sales – thus far in 2017, Ford’s 72,525 sales are down by 3.0 percent.
Stay tuned to Chasing Cars for news and reviews regarding the 2018 Ford EcoSport. Watch our video review of the Ford Escape here.