It’s difficult to believe that Ford introduced their genre-breaking EcoSport merely four years ago in 2014. At the time, there was nothing else quite like it. As a sub-compact SUV that offered excellent ride height, impressive water wading depth, and an affordable sub P1-million price tag, the Ford EcoSport created its own demand and opened the doors for other manufacturers to follow. Today, the sub-compact SUV segment is well-represented, and the once groundbreaking EcoSport sees itself among company that simply does things better.
That is, until now. If all car mid-cycle refreshes were this significant, we’d all have a reason to celebrate. To put it simply, the 2018 Ford EcoSport is an improvement in almost every way — from its design and performance, to its comfort and convenience features. Let’s take a deeper look at why we believe the 2018 Ford Ecosport in its Titanium trim is the EcoSport we always wished it was.
Changes to the outside may look subtle, but they do a lot to improve the EcoSport’s once overbearing front end. Ford toned the EcoSport’s cartoonish look down a bit, with a sculpted hood, sleeker headlamps, and a wider central dome that aligns its look with the rest of Ford’s lineup. Ford claims the redesign serves a higher purpose other than eye candy as the new EcoSport design has gone through more than 200 hours of wind tunnel testing to improve its aerodynamics.
Inside we see some pleasant upgrades as well. Ford implements more soft-touch materials around the cabin and this results in a more upscale experience for the EcoSport’s driver and passengers. The Titanium trim’s cabin is particularly pleasant to be in, with its leather-lined dashboard and form-fitting seats.
Your eyes are immediately drawn to the large floating eight-inch display which is a welcomed replacement to the dreary monochrome display it had before. The large touchscreen is fully SYNC 3 capable, which is Ford’s most user-friendly version of the system yet. It’s also Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatible, which makes syncing up to your mobile phone simple and pain-free. Thankfully, despite this new direction towards touch technology, Ford has opted to keep certain aspects of the infotainment system such as volume and tuning as physical buttons and knobs, which is really how we prefer it.
The best part of the Ford EcoSport Titanium is undoubtedly what powers it. We’ve always loved Ford’s tiny 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine, and it’s great to finally see it in use by the EcoSport. Producing 125 hp and 170 Nm of torque, EcoSport Titanium is full of pep through the corners and on straights. It’s an absolute joy to drive thanks in part to a more evenly distributed power band, showing next to no hints of turbo lag.
Gone is Ford’s wonky dual-clutch Powershift transmission, replaced by a more traditional six-speed automatic. Everything from shifts to power delivery is now silky smooth and evidently more intelligent. The transmission does a great job of reducing gear hunting, and always finds the right gear you need to be in whether going up or down the gear range. The result is a greater feeling of being one with the car, as driving the new EcoSport is a more intuitive experience than it ever was.
Also worthy of note is the EcoSport’s stopping power upgrade, as it gets four disc brakes as opposed to the disc and drum setup from the previous model, adding to its engaging driving experience. Fuel economy with the new, improved and more powerful setup was surprisingly great as well, as we achieved 9.1 km/L on mixed highway and city driving conditions.
Value and safety
The 2018 EcoSport comes with an impressive safety suite for its P1,168,000 price tag. The Titanium trim is equipped with six SRS airbags, ABS with EBD, stability control, and a reverse camera. While priced slightly higher than its predecessor, the 2018 Ford EcoSport Titanium is almost a completely new car on the inside, which justifies the slight price bump. We always loved the EcoSport and everything it stood for, niggles and everything. With Ford listening to its customers, we finally have the EcoSport’s definitive version, putting it in an extremely competitive space among the rest of the field.
Text and photos by Chris Van Hoven