As far as North American fleet buyers are concerned, the 2018 Ford EcoSport is a brand-new, five-door, subcompact crossover SUV. In its birthplace of Brazil and in markets throughout the world, it’s a midcycle refresh of the second-generation EcoSport that was originally introduced in 2003 and underwent a stem-to-stern redesign in 2012.
Ford is bringing the EcoSport home to compete in the burgeoning field of mini-utilities already staffed by competitors such as the Chevrolet Trax, Fiat 500X/Jeep Renegade, Kia Soul, Mazda CX-3, and Nissan Juke. The Fiesta-based EcoSport is nearly identical in size to the Juke; in appearance, it’s a balled-up Escape.
The styling begins with Ford’s now-ubiquitous trapezoidal grille and ends with a conspicuously absent rear-mounted spare tire, a staple in overseas markets. The rear gate swings open horizontally and is triggered by a handle that’s neatly integrated in the passenger-side taillight.
Under the hood, the base S and SE editions of the EcoSport will be powered by the same 1.0-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost turbo that delivers 123 horsepower (hp) and 148 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque in the Fiesta and Focus. The sporty SES and primo Titanium trims will boast a 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated four-banger that makes 160 hp and 146 lb.-ft. in the Focus.
The three-cylinder gets front-wheel drive, and the 2.0 comes with standard “intelligent” all-wheel drive, similar to the on/off system built into some Escapes. Both engines are mated to six-speed automatic transmissions.
Ford plans to offer a blind-spot and rear-cross-traffic warning system as an optional safety feature. Automatic start/stop and four-wheel disc brakes are expected to come standard. The track-ready SES edition will get a sport-tuned suspension as well as steering and unique styling cues inside and out.
The EcoSport’s interior will feature an outsize, floating, 8-inch touchscreen featuring Ford’s Sync 3 interface, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The EcoSport will come with two fast-charging USB ports and a 12-volt outlet in the center console, plus a 12-volt outlet and an optional 110-volt AC inverter in the rear-seat compartment. Some editions will be fitted with a 10-speaker, 675-watt B&O Play stereo system.
The Ford EcoSport is due to hit U.S. and Canadian showrooms sometime in the first quarter of 2018. For updates on availability, specs, and pricing, stay tuned to BusinessFleet.com.