A lot of people has been asking us about the 2019 EcoSport review. Now, it's finally here.
Looking back, it was almost five years ago when Ford Philippines brought in the EcoSport nameplate. It created a new segment, expanding the choices of car buyers – a small vehicle with raised ground clearance and donning a sporty, SUV-like appeal. The best part? Its price point is within the budget of those who have been eyeing subcompact and compact sedans/hatchbacks. It was a game changer, and an instant hit if I may add.
Since then, the EcoSport became one of Ford’s consistent top-sellers, but other brands followed suit, each bringing in their own contender against the well-received crossover. It even gave birth to another segment, the bold-looking seven-seater MPVs, which again changed the game with the capability to carry more passengers at the same price. With the current and emerging competitors, the EcoSport warrants a revamp to bump its appeal to its supposed market. Ford PH complied and brought in its facelifted model, along with a lot of new things under the hood. The EcoSport 1.0L Titanium EcoBoost is supposed to stir the market again, but is it a yay or a nay? We got one for a full review.
The EcoSport retained its flat-nose shape and underpinnings (that’s why it’s a facelift), but the biggest changes in its exterior design are found on its front fascia. The former split-grille has been replaced with one solid hexagonal grille, making its face more unified and robust. A new set of fog lamps has been added, as well, and sharp daytime running lights crown the automatic HID projector headlamps. It’s a good look, day and night, and I absolutely love it.
On its side, it’s pretty much carried over from the outgoing model, except for the chrome strip that underlines the windows. The rear, on the other hand, didn’t get many updates, except for the new position of the Titanium badge to give way for the EcoBoost badge and the cover of the spare tire. So, yes, the visible spare wheel remains, which admittedly was something that boosted the SUV appeal of the car. The only problem with this is that it’s quite hard to differentiate the old EcoSport from the new when viewed from behind.
It’s a different story inside the car. The 2019 EcoSport gets a wildly different cabin – yes, wildly – because the changes are so drastic, you might think that you’re inside an all-new EcoSport. In fact, the only things retained are the sloping dash, the shape of the center console where the gear-shifter resides, and the gear-shift knob itself. Even the materials used inside the cabin are all new. The dashboard is covered in soft leather, and so are the elbow rests found by the door and the slidable cover of the center console box (cheap thrill!). The soft plastics used don’t look cheap at all, and there are minimal scratch-prone piano black accents found. In other words, the whole cabin radiates a premium aura – something that the bigger Everest midsize SUVhas.
As the dimensions of the 2019 EcoSport remain intact, the rear passenger legroom is the same, as well, which is one of the few qualms I have in this car. It really isn’t much, just enough for me who’s standing 5’6”. Nevertheless, cargo space remains commendable, especially when the rear backrests are folded down and the trunk lid removed, but I really wish Ford made it lipless for easier cargo loading. The swinging rear door needs an update, too, as it’s too heavy, opens really wide, and doesn’t have a step-stopper. You would need to be careful when opening it to avoid damages to the spare tire cover, especially when parking with the rear facing the wall. While design, aesthetics, and convenience are the EcoSport’s greatest gifts, its overall ride comfort has seen better days. It’s a bit bouncy for my taste and the cabin noise isolation can be further improved. Body roll is prominent as well, but that’s understandable with this car’s elevated ride height and 209mm ground clearance.
My most favorite part of the 2019 EcoSport is its floating eight-inch colored, capacitive touchscreen infotainment system that doubles as the reverse camera display. It's an eye candy and aside from its crisp display, it’s equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which employs a very seamless smartphone connectivity. If you’re on iOS 12 and higher, the Waze app is also integrated into the CarPlay so the display of the app is within the head unit, so, bye bye phone holders. The gauge cluster display has been revamped, too, and it looks fresh and it’s akin to what the Everest has.
As the range-topper, the EcoSport Titanium boasts several driving conveniences. They’re more than a handful, so I’ll just drop them all here: speed-sensing door locks, auto-dimming rearview mirror, keyless entry with push-button start/stop, hill-start and hill-descent controls, rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, and auto start/stop – all of these work flawlessly, save maybe the last one as I prefer not to use it, really. There’s still no rear A/C vents, USB charging ports, and headrest for the middle passenger, but that’s fine as the automatic A/C works great even at high noon and there’s a foldable center armrest with cupholders.
The 2019 EcoSport is showered with active and passive safety features to keep the driver and passengers protected along the way. Aside from the mentioned rear camera with sensors, it also has the standard ABS with Electronic Brake-Force Distribution, Traction Control, Electronic Stability Control, ISOFIX child seat tethers, and six airbags up to the back. It also has a seatbelt reminder but for the front passenger only. The best part is, it has hill start assist and hill descent control, so steep ramps are an easy task for the subcompact crossover.
Driving and Handling
Now, down to what’s under the hood. The 2019 EcoSport Titanium is powered by the (read: six-time) award-winning three-cylinder 1.0-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine – the same power powerplant inside the Fiesta Hatchback Sport+. This engine wasn’t award-winning for nothing, and it transcended during the actual drive. Even with the huge step-down in displacement, the diminutive mill can produce 123 hp and 170 Nm of torque – numbers greater than its 1.5-liter naturally-aspirated counterpart. These numbers were felt on the road, whether crawling on EDSA or cruising through the highway. It provides the needed pull every time, with the turbo kicking in at around 1,500 RPM. With this, even hill climbs and tough parking ramps were a cinch. From a standstill, the EcoSport wasn’t hesitant to move forward, which could be attributed to its new conventional six-speed automatic transmission. The torque converter has proven itself as a reliable choice, but it needs a little bit of tweaking as it shifted less quickly, sometimes even staying too long at high revs.
The EcoSport’s handling has been improved primarily because of the better weight employed to the steering wheel, but could still be better, I reckon. A little tweaking to the electronically-assisted power steering wouldn’t hurt as there’s understeer at speeds, but generally, the car followed where I pointed it and it’s very maneuverable in tight city streets. The strong-biting front disc brakes made every drive safe and secured, too.
With the mentioned engine behavior, there was a small setback in fuel economy figures: city drives at around 15 km/h read 7.1 km/L, while faster paces at 60 km/h returned 13.1 km/L. Highway cruise nailed at 90 km/h gave out a generous 17.2 km/L. Not too good for a 1.0L engine, but this can be offset if you'll use the automatic start/stop system, which would be quite effective since the fuel consumption boosted when idling.
With all things considered, the Ford EcoSport Titanium 1.0 EcoBoost came just in time to agitate the segment it essentially started and dominated. The P1,168,000 price tag isn’t too much to ask with its improved looks, driving dynamics, and overall interior amenities. It’s sulit, so to speak. Yes, there’s room for improvement, but this nameplate has been a best-seller for a reason, and it will continue to do so with its new set of skills under its belt.