Ford EcoSport Trend 2018 review

How does Ford's small SUV stack up?

Nedahl Stelio
Family reviewer

23 Feb 2018 • 17 min read

You’ve got a $25k budget for a new car. Is it possible to get an SUV? Ford says yes, with its EcoSport five-seater. A small SUV in competition with the likes of a Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V and Nissan Qashqai, the EcoSport is a nifty car that will get you around town on a hatchback budget. 

In Australia we love our SUVs as a family car, so how does the EcoSport measure up? This week I drove the Trend variant, which is smack bang in the middle of the range. Let’s see how it fared. 

What does it look like?

I’m tackling this first as the EcoSport design has positives and negatives. From the outside it’s pretty fun. I feel like I’m in a retro Coca-Cola commercial with a bunch of pony-tailed friends bouncing in the back seat.

The EcoSport's design from the outside it’s pretty fun. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The EcoSport's design from the outside it’s pretty fun. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

Especially if you get it in a shiny colour like the red or the blue. It’s all about the spare tyre on the back of the car. Full props to Ford for actually supplying a full-sized spare, and not cutting into boot space for fitting it in there. But it does make things feel retro, and it sure makes that boot door heavy.

Full props to Ford for actually supplying a full-sized spare. (image credit: Dean McCartney) Full props to Ford for actually supplying a full-sized spare. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

Inside feels like the place where Ford has saved money to deliver a small SUV for this price. The fabric seats don’t feel great to touch and while it’s all clearly designed with a simple layout, everything is fairly basic. 

But while it might not look luxe, it certainly does the job. Old school air-con knobs for example are just the thing to crank up on the hot week I drove it. There’s something to be said for simple executions. Complex doesn’t necessarily mean better. 

How does it drive?

Surprisingly well. The engine sounds small, it’s a 1.0-litre turbo, but that’s plenty to get me around my suburban route of work-school-grandparents, etc.

The 1.0-litre turbo has plenty to get me around my suburban route. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The 1.0-litre turbo has plenty to get me around my suburban route. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

It’s actually quite zippy and while it doesn’t zoom up hills, it gets me up there perfectly fine. The steering is responsive so it’s quite nimble and is easy to park with a no-frills reverse parking camera and rear sensors. 

There’s a relatively small turning circle of 10.7m which is on par with others in this class. It’s high enough off the road so I don’t feel like I’m in a sedan but I don’t feel like I’m in a huge car either, I still feel like I can deftly change lanes without barging through traffic.

How easy is it to use every day?

I found it practical enough on my week of use. There’s a centre storage bin that’s not wide but it is deep, and a fold-down armrest for rear passengers with two cupholders in the back and two in the front, plus bottle holders in each door.

There’s a fold-down armrest for rear passengers with two cupholders. (image credit: Dean McCartney) There’s a fold-down armrest for rear passengers with two cupholders. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

The manual driver’s seat adjustment is quite the arm workout so hopefully you won’t be swapping drivers between your tall partner and yourself (like I was). There are two USB ports in the front and a small spot to throw (or carefully place, rather) your phone. 

The boot door opens sideways, and I found this quite heavy but also a touch impractial because it would stop you from reversing into parks if you were, for example, at the supermarket and parking on a wall or with a car behind you. You won't be able to open the boot fully.  

There are no air vents for back passengers but the front ones are strong and air does travel to the rear, there were no complaints from my children on hot days. Small SUVs generally don’t come with rear air vents, though it would be a nice addition.

How spacious is it?

The EcoSport has a decent amount of space for a small SUV. The front is good to sit in with loads of leg and headroom for me and my 185cm husband. The second row has plenty of room for my two children, aged four and six, though you probably won't be able to fit three child seats in the back - pre-testing before purchasing is recommended.

The boot is one of the largest in its class. We can’t compare actual volume because Ford measures its boot space to a different standard, but going on actual first-hand tests, we’re estimating this boot is bigger than the CX-3 and the Hyundai Kona

The boot will easily fit a pram plus grocery bags inside. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The boot will easily fit a pram plus grocery bags inside. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

It will easily fit a pram plus grocery bags inside and if you pop the back seats down you can apparently fit a washing machine in there (note, I didn’t personally test that claim). So it’s quite spacious for a small SUV, and this is a big one for families. 

How good is the tech?

All variants of the EcoSport come with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, so it’s a plug-in-and-go situation because that brings up the main apps from your phone, like maps and Spotify. 

If you don’t like doing that, the Trend has a built in sat nav with free map updates for life. There’s Bluetooth connection and a digital radio all on an 8.0-inch touchscreen and a seven speaker sound system.

The Trend has a 8.0-inch touchscreen with built in sat nav. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The Trend has a 8.0-inch touchscreen with built in sat nav. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

As mentioned, the reversing camera is a basic one but it works. So your tech is sorted.

How safe is it?

This is where you’ll have to weigh up whether the lower price is worth the lack of new safety features. Because while it has the basics covered with seven airbags, and side curtain airbags extending to the back row, plus two ISOFIX points and three top tether points for child seats, it’s missing newer safety features.

Things like auto emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and lane departure alerts which you’ll find on most of its competitors - but they do come in at a higher cost. It just depends on how much you’ll rely on those features and whether they are important to you. It does get a maximum five star ANCAP rating.

What does it cost to run?

The Ford EcoSport Trend’s 1.0-litre engine helps with fuel efficiency, with Ford claiming it uses 6.7 litres every 100kms on the combined cycle. And at $24,490, it’s a well priced entry into the SUV market. 

It comes with a three-year/100,000km warranty. You’ll need to get it serviced every 12 months with the average cost of service around $281 over five years.


The Wrap

If you’re after a small SUV that is fairly basic but covers all your necessities, plus has a big boot, and you don’t want to spend over $25,000, this is a good option. It drives well, is big enough for a family and will do the job without complaining. It’s not flash or fancy, but is great for people who want an SUV on a budget. I gave it a family rating of 7 out of 10, taking points off for interior styling and the lack of new safety features. My children gave it a 7 out of 10, and that was mainly for the colour. Red! 

Likes

Price
Fuel efficiency
Boot space

Dislikes

Interior
Heavy boot door
Lack of advanced safety

Scores

Nedahl:

3.5

The Kids:

3.5

$24,490

Based on new car retail price

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