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March 21, 2017

Review: 2017 Ford EcoSport Titanium vs SsangYong Tivoli Sport R

When SsangYong launched the Tivoli, the Korean carmaker boldly predicted that buyers will flock to their new crossover from the perennial segment favorite, the Ford EcoSport. A year on, this hasn’t gone to plan as the EcoSport continues to protect its turf while managing to increase its sales in the process. The question beckons: has SsangYong simply bitten more than it can chew? Will the Tivoli be relegated to being kicked to the curb in this sub-compact crossover turf war?

Dismissing the other offerings in this price range, the Nissan Juke and Honda BR-V to name two, it’s time to put that to the test. Can the new Korean kid on the block take on the American veteran mano-a-mano? It’s time to put down the sales sheets and bring out the switchblades and brass knuckles; it’s about to get ugly.


Popularity works both for and against the EcoSport. When it first came out three years ago, it looked like a Ford Fiesta that had too much steroids. Some decried it looked like a catfish with that mouthbreather grille as well as the tall, but short proportions. The design could have worked if only the rear area were stretched just a tad more. As it is, it’s too front heavy. Still, ubiquity, especially in this shade of Frozen White, also means getting used to this mechanical catfish. Nowadays, you won’t be judged for finding the EcoSport cute. There’s just so many of them running around that it’s become a default choice.

On the contrary, if this contest were judged solely on the reaction of passersby, the Tivoli wins hands down. If it were a book, it’ll have the best cover you could possibly think of. Most importantly, it looks more expensive than its P 1,080,000 price tag and for that, it wins in the looks department. Styled by Korean millennials, it seems to draw inspiration from wild K-Pop fashion. The arresting paint job and jet black accents makes heads turn faster than you could say “Gangnam Style.” The outlandish fashion sense extends even to the 18, yes, 18-inch rims. Being overly critical, the only thing out of place is that “Tivoli” badge on the rear hatch. If there’s one car that’ll look infinitely better de-badged, it would be this one.  And though may not match the EcoSport’s 200-mm ground clearance, the Tivoli still sits 167-mm above the ground.

Winner: SsangYong Tivoli


“What you see is what you get” perfectly describes both of these vehicles. Stepping into the EcoSport, it continues with its more somber, more straightforward approach. The interior is familiar to any modern Ford owner right down to the gauges, high-set infotainment screen, and number pad on the center console. The fit and finish are generally right for this price range (P 988,000), though the plastics are hard to the touch. Still, there are a number of pleasant surprises such as the quality of the leather on the tiller and seats, the tactile smoothness of the controls—it all connotes a well-engineered, well-thought of product. Sadly, grab handles aren’t there because of the moon roof. Overall comfort is good with a naturally ergonomic seating position. The driving position is set high (even at the lowest seat height) aiding the EcoSport’s visibility, although there are sizeable blind spots, most notably at the rear three-quarters of the passenger’s side.

Compared to the EcoSport’s cabin, where designers showed a lot of restraint, SsangYong simply let loose in the Tivoli. It’s colorful, playful, and sadly, downright tacky. The mix of red, black, silver, and aluminum accents feel more like it’s a custom car gone wrong. The fit and finish could also be better as there are unsightly gaps in things like the glove box and sunglass holder. And though media abuse has something to do with it, this particular unit has switches that don’t work as smoothly anymore; and that’s with only 10,000 kilometers on the clock. The Android-based infotainment system also needs some work too as it tends to wash out at even the slightest of sunlight. And on that subject, there are a lot of unwanted reflections around and this gets distracting. Still, kudos to the Tivoli’s material choice which is a notch above Ford’s—down to the soft-touch plastics on the upper dash and the rubberized inserts in the cup holders. And while it doesn’t look it in pictures, it also offers a high driving position as well. Though not as commanding as the one in the EcoSport, there are less blind spots making it equally good to zip around traffic in.

Winner: Ford EcoSport

Space and Practicality

Time and time again, Ford has been criticized for their cramped interior and it’s no different with the EcoSport. It’s best left to singles, childless couples, and empty nesters since all the space has been concentrated on the front seats. The front occupants will love the supportive seats (the driver even has an adjustable lumbar support along with tilt/telescopic steering adjustment) along with a good array of storage (but still no lidded center console box). Moving to the rear accommodations, there are only two headrests and oddly enough, only two three-point seatbelts. This says a lot about the EcoSport and its intention to fit only two people in the rear seat as opposed to three. That being said, at least the rear seats do offer adjustable angles of recline. The luggage space itself isn’t as deep, though the generous height does help it accommodate tall objects, like luggage. And on the subject of the tailgate itself, the side swinging mechanism takes too much space; a bane for those who live in areas with tight parking garages.

Looking beyond the Tivoli’s primary school color scheme, it presents itself as the better packaged crossover. Not only are the front seats good enough for long drives, but the rear is actually enough to seat three abreast. Knee room is still limited, but at least the rear cushion offers a more comfortable experience. There’s more hip support and everyone gets their own adjustable headrests and three-point seatbelts. It also has more storage options with a lidded center console box and even a center arm rest for the rear passengers. The front seatback pockets are probably the most intriguing aspect as it uses reconfigurable straps. Open the traditional (vertically opening) tailgate of the Tivoli and it reveals a usable trunk space. Though designers have tried to maximize the space (the Tivoli doesn’t even have a spare tire; it uses a tire inflation kit), it still doesn’t have the EcoSport’s cargo height. Nonetheless, it manages to fit a week’s worth of groceries just fine, perhaps even more so than the Ford.

Winner: SsangYong Tivoli

Performance and Fuel Economy

On the road, there’s only a small delineation that separates the EcoSport and the Tivoli. Both are equally good, but flawed at the same time. With a 1.6-liter gasoline engine, the Tivoli wins the horsepower war here. Putting out 128 horsepower and 160 Nm of torque, it easily out grunts the Ford by a considerable margin. Even when factoring in power-to-weight ratio, the SsangYong does better. It’s noticeable especially in the urban setting where it feels more adept at jostling through traffic quickly. The caveat though is the hyper-sensitive throttle coupled with the short ratios of the first three gears makes it feel like you’re taming a rabid dog; the noticeable shift shock certainly not helping things. Still, the engine does service good NVH, with just a hint of coarseness at higher revs. It’s when the speeds go up that the Tivoli loses steam. As it goes through the gears of its 6-speed automatic, progression crawls considerably. This is alright when you’re cruising on the highway, but try evoking a downshift and the reaction is delayed. Fuel consumption is also something left to be desired: 7.63 km/L at a speed of 15 km/h.

With 62 percent of its name making up the word, Sport, one expects respectable performance from Ford’s smallest SUV. But sadly, that’s not the case. Although the gearbox itself has more thought out ratios than the Tivoli’s, the dual clutch has roughness at low speeds. Adjusting the driving style does smoothen things, but once or twice, transmission shock will make its way into the cabin. Though down on outright power, the 1.5-liter engine still pulls the EcoSport quite well. The engine does need to work a tad more and this comes out as an overworked sounding drivetrain, but at least it feels balanced and smooth. On the highway, the drivetrain helps it cruise smoothly up to legal speeds, but try an overtaking maneuver, like on the tight Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay Road, and you’ll be met with a more vocal engine and some accompanying revs, but no added pace. Still, the EcoSport does seem to manage its fuel consumption better: 8.47 km/L at a speed of 15 km/h.

Having a more powerful engine would certainly have done justice to the EcoSport’s ride which is better tuned than the Tivoli’s. The Tivoli exhibits an uneven ride that’s great on billiard-smooth surfaces, but punishing on all others. The steering effort is adjustable with three settings, but it’s best left to ‘Normal.’ Though it looks sporty, the suspension gets unsettled quickly with road corrugations enough to kick the rear tires out slightly. The brake pedal also feels more like an on/off switch. Though the EcoSport also gets unsettled by larger bumps, at least it feels much more secure and stable. The steering is also nicely tuned as are the brakes. The EcoSport’s body feels much more solid too with absolutely no shimmies or rattles. Sadly, the Tivoli’s got a ton of them emanating from the upper dash, the steering rack, and the rear seats.

Winner: TIE

Value for Money

Like its behavior on road almost nothing separates the Tivoli and EcoSport in terms of both price and features. Only P 92,000 splits them and the list of standard features are more or less the same. The EcoSport does have a moon roof and stability control with hill start assist while the Tivoli nets you bigger rims and the added interior space. The biggest advantage of the SsangYong though is that it comes with a 3-year free PMS (parts and labor) as well as a 5-year warranty. And while the Korean carmaker only has two dealers nationwide, if you live near Quezon Avenue or Cebu, that alone is enough to close the price gap with the EcoSport.

Winner: TIE

Ford has certainly created something special with the EcoSport. The fact that every small SUV that followed wants to wrestle the crown away from it says that Ford has done something right. And though most buyers will continue to resonate with Ford’s smallest SUV, the SsangYong Tivoli looks like it’s ready to stand up to the challenge. Long-term ownership notwithstanding, this surprisingly new entry from Korea has the ability to ruffle feathers. They may not do it this year or even with this product cycle, but the Tivoli’s eye on style and a roomier interior are more than enough to make it a worthy opponent. Though it’s let down by its unsettled ride and minor build quality issues, it’s enough for it to leap frog the EcoSport in the battle. If only Ford could offer a better drivetrain, perhaps it could eke out a win. As it stands, it’s the SsangYong Tivoli that wins this turf war.

Winner: SsangYong Tivoli

2017 Ford EcoSport vs 2017 SsangYong Tivoli
Ownership 2017 Ford EcoSport 1.5 Titanium 2017 SsangYong Tivoli 1.6 Sport R
Year Introduced 2014 2016
Vehicle Classification Sub-compact Crossover Sub-compact Crossover
The Basics
Body Type 5-door SUV 5-door SUV
Seating 5 5
Engine / Drive F/F F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.5 1.6
Aspiration Normally Aspirated Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery EFI EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders I4 I4
BHP @ rpm 110 @ 6,300 128 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 142 @ 4,500 160 @ 4,600
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~ Gasoline / 91~
Transmission 6 DCT 6 AT
Cruise Control No No
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 8.47 km/L @ 15 km/h 7.63 km/L @ 15 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,245 4,195
Width (mm) 1,765 1,795
Height (mm) 1,658 1,590
Wheelbase (mm) 2,521 2,600
Curb Weight (kg) 1,289 1,300
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Drum Disc
Tires Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max
205/60 R 16 H (f & r)
Kumho Solus XC
215/45 R 18 V (f & r)
Wheels Alloy Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes No
Parking Sensors Yes Yes, with Camera
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist None
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen Halogen
Fog Lamps Front, Rear Front
Auto Lights Yes Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic Tilt
Steering Wheel Material Leather/Urethane Leather
Seating Adjustment Manual Manual
Seating Surface Leather Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40 Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes Yes
Power Door Locks Yes Yes
Power Windows Yes Yes
Power Mirrors Yes Yes, with Fold
Climate Control Yes Yes
Audio System Stereo
Voice Command
# of Speakers 6 6
Steering Controls Yes Yes


  1. The common problem of Ssangyong is parts replacement availability.

    1. Did you have a typo? Coz Ford has big problems with spare parts... and service sucks! The American country boss is busy with other things like growing sales instead of building relationships with existing owners... good service relations could also translate to better sales growth ya know!

    2. not any more for ford because unlike before parts are sourced from the states in the case explorer,expedition today ford car parts are made in southeast asia in the case of thai made everest,ranger ,focus,ecosport,fiesta,even in banaue,QC parts are readily available

    3. At least Ford company are included in satisfaction services index by 2016 and its more reliable than Ssangyong.

    4. Most of the issues of Ford regarding parts/after sales were from the time before Ford became a mainstream player. Ford now is always in the 4th or 3rd spot in sales. There are also 3rd party Ford specialist mechanics now too.

    5. do you guys own a ford? when your car is still under warranty it will be like a sore thumb when parts need replacement. the provincial service centers are mostly unreliable and unprofessional. thanks but no thanks to your innovative ways mr. ford ph president!

    6. ford is in 3rd place now because: A. new to ford owners haven't experienced their shoddy service yet but in a few years will surely regret buying one. B. competitors like honda has ugly cars so they are enticed to ford cars but then it goes back to A.

    7. I checked some old car sales news articles, Ford finished in 6th place at the end of 2012, 5th place by the end of 2013, and finally 3rd place by the end of 2014.
      That's several years of growth along with several years of after-sales service from those vehicles sold.

    8. and your point is??? not because they have higher sales means their service has improved too. better seek those owners and ask about their experiences with ford ph service (i.e. pms, repair, etc.). before, ford ph conducted surveys (maybe an idea of ms. hart) but no feedback about the results came out. for sure it was negative. heck they did not even try to improve their service based on those surveys.

    9. My point is, 5 years of continuous growth, if the service is as bad is you make it sound, they shouldn't be where they have been for the past 3 years.
      Ford Philippines isn't the same as it was a decade ago, it's a legitimate mainstream player now.
      If you've worked in a company/agency, surveys are usually internal info.

    10. as mentioned, most of those were not repeat customers but new to ford customers who moved from other brands (i.e. honda) so they grew in number for the past 3 yrs. but no point arguing with a ford employee like you who didnt experience such shoddy service. and results of that survey be it internal didnt manifest anything positive to improve the way things are run at those provincial service centers.

    11. Any actual facts/proof about Ford buyers in the past 5 years or are these all speculations?
      I think I've been called an employee of GM when I explained how new Korean GMs like Sonic/Trax/Cruze are no are real GM models and not Daewoos.
      I do recall Korean brands like Hyundai were treated unfairly too when they started eating into the sales of traditional top selling brands which used to be all Japanese.

    12. Moving on to Ssangyong, parts/service may have improved now (I have no data) but it's now handled by Berjaya Philippines, same people who distribute Mazda cars (which is doing ok)

    13. no point in showing facts about who the buyers were the past 5 yrs. the argument is about ford after-sales service. whatever the number of new ford vehicles sold, the questions are: are those buyers satisfied about the after-sales service provided to them by the dealerships? will they become repeat customers based on service rendered? are you a ford owner getting your vehicle serviced at a dealership? these you havent answered directly insisting that sales numbers are commensurate to quality service.

    14. The Ecosport of my friend got hit by a motorcycle in her front bumper. It took Ford Balintawak 5 months just for the front bumper to arrive.

    15. After sales quality can directly affect a brand's reputation, people will avoid it if it's bad. Continuous growth means Filipinos are starting to trust the brand, the same way they started to trust Korean brands years earlier.
      A vehicle is probably the 2nd most expensive purchase for most people, it's not an impulse buy, car buyers usually research and ask family/relatives, friends, car forums etc to get a picture of the vehicle & its after sales service quality before plopping down a million or two of their hard-earned money. Any brand will for sure have some unhappy customers.
      JD Power 2016 Philippines Customer Service Index has Toyota and Ford tied at 4th (both with 825 points). Above industry standards but not perfect (1000 points).
      Yes, I still have the car serviced at the casa, but there are 3rd party shops and Ford specialists out there.
      I recommend joining the respective club forums of whatever brand vehicle you own or are about to purchase, you can get quick feedback regarding casa or 3rd party service/store info, prices etc.
      Right now i'm not sure if SsangYong already has a club though.

    16. F-ix O-r R-epair E-veryday... That's the reason I sold my Ford Fiesta Ecoboost... Everytime you change your battery or encounter battery problems you need to bring it in to reset the computer box so it would run again? Good job FORD!

  2. There is no winner here... both are unreliable in terms of service! good luck to future/current owners!

    1. It's like choosing your $#%@*#% poison. Either way you lose.

    2. exactly! if you need to prove my point, try owning a new ford vehicle and during the warranty period have it serviced at any provincial location. good luck!

    3. Agreed. I rather pay extra to get an HR-V, XV or a Juke than these 2.

  3. All I can think of while reading the article is damn, the BRV definitely arrived at the right time... Sucks for the wheels though. The BRV looks like it stands on dangerously rickety stilts.

    1. The BR-V is basically a crossover version of the Mobilio which in turn is an MPV version of the Brio. The BR-V can basically trace its roots to the A-segment Brio minicar.

  4. Dude, I think you better compare the Ecosport to the Chevy Trax instead since both are American automakers. :)

    Still, I have 2 cousins - One owns an Ecosport, and one a Chevy Spin - who are both not satisfied with the service of both brands. All of my peers who owns their pickups - Rangers and Colorados - said that the service and parts are good and readily available respectively, though. Perhaps it depends on the models?

  5. ford is the best..its #1 in US

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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