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October 2, 2018

First Drive: 2019 Ford EcoSport 1.0 Titanium and 1.5 Trend

As the segment’s first-ever sub-compact SUV, the Ford EcoSport had potential written all over it. It could have been a lot of things to a lot of people. However, in the four years it’s been in the market, it remained a fashion piece—one that didn’t come backed up by the driving chops to win hardcore buyers over.

That’s all changed this 2018. This is finally the EcoSport everyone deserved. Not only does it exude energy and excitement, but it finally comes with enough handling prowess to make it worthy of consideration.

First up, there’s the refreshed looks. Gone is the bottom feeder/alien look of its predecessor and in its place is something more corporate Ford. Aside from attuning it to the Escapes (may it rest in peace) and Explorers of the world, the EcoSport comes across as more debonair thanks to its sculpted hood and wider central dome. The larger headlights, re-done fenders, and larger wheels all tie together to make its stance more appropriate for a Generation Z SUV.

The biggest news for 2018, however, is what you don’t see: the engine. With the introduction of two new engines—a normally-aspirated 1.5-liter and a 1.0-liter EcoBoost, the EcoSport finally has the performance credentials to back up the “Sport” part of the EcoSport name.

Eyebrows were raised upon hearing that the 1.0-liter engine is more expensive variant, but a quick zip from Manila to Batangas can prove any naysayer wrong. Combining direct-injection, variable camshaft timing, and a turbocharger, the top-of-the-line EcoSport makes 125 horsepower. It’s just up three versus the larger normally-aspirated engine, but the 170 Nm torque figure and the way it’s spread across the rpms make it the one to have. It offers steady, continuous power—something you didn’t expect from an EcoSport before.

While the driving performance of the 1.0-liter EcoBoost is nothing short of “amaze balls,” the news is less positive with the 1.5-liter. Though the jerkiness brought about by the problematic PowerShift dual clutch is now gone, the replacement 6-speed automatic still takes some time to dial the power in. Whenever there’s a need to accelerate, expect a momentary pause and not much shove. Power delivery is peaky and that makes overtaking a bit more difficult with this non-turbo motor.

This year, all EcoSport variants come with four-wheel disc brakes. This is certainly a welcome improvement from the disc/drum set-up of before, but oddly enough, the stopping power is dependent on the variant. The EcoBoost’s brakes bite well enough, inspiring confidence even during high speed driving. However, the 1.5-liter’s is soft and spongy. It actually came to the point when we asked Ford’s technicians for help only for them to say, “it’s normal.”

As mixed as the driving experience is, at least there’s little to complain about the EcoSport’s interior. Whether it’s the 1.5- or 1.0-liter models, both have upgraded, Instagram-worthy cabins. The Titanium variant gets the whole shebang from a leather-lined dashboard and seats and a sunroof. Still, the Trend is not bad either. And whatever the variant, it comes with today’s fashion must have: a floating infotainment screen. In a bit of a twist, the Trend gets the bigger screen, but it’s only the Titanium that gets touchscreen controls and Ford’s much-vaunted SYNC 3 system.

Apart from the upgraded interior looks, one thing Ford could have improved on is the overall space. The seating, front or back, is cocooning—with a headroom lower than what you’d expect from an SUV. Seating four makes it feel crowded quickly, although at least the cargo space is more than generous.

However, one thing that Ford did not skimp on is smart technology, such as rear parking sensors with a camera—standard on all variants. Going up to the Titanium and that nets you rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, and smart keyless entry—features commonly found in a vehicle a class or two higher. There’s also the subject of 6 airbags, ABS, stability control, and a host of other stuff.

In the process of enhancing the EcoSport for the 2019 model year, Ford has managed to unlock its potential. While still not offering the perfect drive, it’s managed to level itself up from just being “mediocre” to “impressive.” In 2014, Ford surprised everyone with a segment-defining offering. Four years on, and they’re going the same. It’s managed enough improvements to keep it fresh and relevant while also offering much-needed drivetrain and handling refinements. Finally, the EcoSport is getting the proper sort of attention it worked so hard to deserve.


  1. I was checking this car online to do research as I was seriously considering this when I found this Youtube video about its 1-liter Ecoboost engine.

    It's a BBC London Report about the horrifying issues and experiences with customer's of Ford's 1-liter Ecoboost engine in the UK.

  2. @Alvin Zor Di, I read the affected ones are the older models of the Fiesta and Focus. According to Autocar UK: "The coolant hose on the 1.0 Ecoboost engines of cars built between October 2011 and October 2013 can potentially fail at high temperatures."

  3. Why does every reviewer of this face lifted ecosport says that the dragon engine is so inferior compared to the ecoboost engine? Have you even tried the manual version of the dragon engine? I think the problem is the automatic transmission undermines the true capability of the dragon engine. But on a manual transmission you would see that it is more in-sync and would see how really powerful it is. Hope somehow you would do the trend manual variant someday. So that you might not mislead many readers regarding the dragon engine's true capabilities

  4. Is the ford eco sport 2019 an all wheel drive or a front wheel drive suv?

  5. Why ford didn’t bring UK’s ecosport engine and drivertrain set up here in the Philippines (1.5 ecoblue engine, AWD drivetrain)? The vehicle could have been more economical to drive.


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