|Positives: Easy to park, smooth ride, excellent Sync 3 infotainment system, unique swing-out tailgate|
|Negatives: Looks like a giant roller skate, tiny wheels look silly, chintzy seat fabric styling, painful second-row seats, crappy gas mileage.|
|Bottom Line: The tiny crossover feels like a rushed afterthought with almost no advantages due to its size. Though the infotainment and transmission are good, there's not much to enjoy about the EcoSport. This is a segment where there aren't many winners, and the EcoSport can't count itself as one.|
The EcoSport is one of those vehicles that's just okay when it comes to the overall driving experience. It's neither fun nor totally disengaging, which doesn't bode well for it in a segment where others fare far better behind the wheel.
Ride Quality: For such a short wheelbase vehicle, the EcoSport is actually pretty good on-road. The SES is a bit firmer than the lower trim models, but it still manages bumps well without being upset.
Acceleration: The naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter four isn't quick, but throttle response is good. It'll hit 60 mph from a standstill in a slow 9.4 seconds. It's on par with the Honda HR-V (9.5 sec), faster than the Toyota C-HR (11.5 sec), and way slower than a turbocharged Kia Soul (6.3 sec). The transmission downshifts well, despite its roughness at times.
Braking: Brake pedal feel is progressive with no mushiness, and the EcoSport stops well.
Steering: Steering is pretty good in the EcoSport, though it lacks feedback. It's on center, and turn-in is decent.
Handling: There's minimal body roll, but the tires are narrow, and the body is tall. Don't hammer it into any corners.
Sync 3 continues to impress us as one of the better systems out there. It's one of the EcoSport's most redeeming qualities.
Infotainment System: Our top trim tester had the big 8.5-inch Sync 3 touchscreen, and it's very responsive to inputs. Menus are intuitive, and the screen is vivid and easy to read.
Controls: We like the convenient layout and easy access of the EcoSport's controls. Physical knobs for audio and climate make it easier for drivers, and the steering wheel controls are, likewise, easy to use.
It's hard for us to get remotely excited about the exterior design of the EcoSport. It just looks awkward to us, and comes across as a poor compromise of econobox and crossover.
Front: The big light housings and grille seem too large for such a stubby front end. The hoodline also looks too high.
Rear: It looks like a shrunken Escape only taller and narrower. The large grey plastic bumper is prominent.
Profile: This is the shot that makes it look like a roller skate. Only the short front and rear overhangs help its diminutive size.
Cabin: The orange accents inside give it a sportier look and feel, but you can tell that the materials are on the cheap side.
No one will get the impression of airiness and opulence here. The interior isn't spacious by any means, and it's really only moderately comfortable for two people and small children.
Front Seats: The seats are decent, though the cushions feel a bit hard. The seat fabric is a bit too low-rent for our liking. Riding position is also tall-ish.
Rear Seats: The cushions are way too high, and there's not much headroom and even less legroom. Not even averaged sized adults should sit back here for more than 15 minutes.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Highway speeds are actually fairly quiet, but when the engine is pushed hard, things get noisy inside.
Visibility: The front is compromised by the rising hood and thick A-pillars. The superfluous triangular small side window doesn't help matters. Out the back, the sightlines are compromised, as well. The rear camera and blind spot monitor are imperative.
Climate: Heated seats and climate worked decently. We didn't sense that the vent heating was especially powerful.
The EcoSport hasn't been crash tested yet, but it does come with some basic safety features.
IIHS Rating: Not tested.
NHTSA Rating: Not tested.
Standard Tech: In SES trim, the vehicle comes with a Blind Spot Information System, a backup camera, and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Optional Tech: None.
Though no one expects the EcoSport to be huge inside, it's actually not bad. We just wish the cabin compartments were bigger and that the second row folded completely flat.
Storage Space: There's a small armrest and a couple of cubbies for daily items, but none of them are particularly large.
Cargo Room: There's 20.9 cubic feet with the seats in place and 50 cubic feet with the seats folded. It's a little smaller than the Honda HR-V inside but far less useful due to its lack of configurability. The redeeming quality is really its swing-out tailgate, barring the odd release in the right taillight.
The much bigger Ford Escape actually does better on the highway and provides more usefulness and style. The EcoSport could benefit from at least one more gear for highway efficiency.
Observed: 18.3 mpg
Distance Driven: 27 miles
Driving Factors: We drove it only short distances on the highway and local roads, extracting as much as we could out of the small engine.
The SES level gets an upgraded 7-speaker audio system that works fine, but the small cabin doesn't provide a great aural experience to begin with. It's only a one speaker upgrade from the 6-speaker stock system.