We test-drove the new compact SUV with more advanced features and improved performance from Manila to Tagaytay to Sta. Rosa and back.
Travel | By Trixie Reyna on March 13, 2019
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To me (and I’m sure to a lot of people), summer is all about trips—be it road trips or the kind that requires plane rides. So if you’re looking for a new SUV that can take you from city driving in heavy traffic during the work week to road trips out of town every weekend, read on for our experience driving the new Ford EcoSport.

EcoSport Trixie landscape

For our wedding anniversary last December, my husband gifted me with a new SUV. However, I have yet to drive it because he doesn’t trust me behind the wheel of a brand-new SUV yet when 1) I only drove sedans in Manila and 2) the drive from our rural farm home to Iloilo City is long and mostly on highways, with big trucks, other SUVs, and stubborn motorcycles as the common road users. He’d argue it’s these other road users he doesn’t trust, but I’m still waiting for the day he lets me drive Freedom (yes, that’s the name of my SUV, as I first wrote about in the March 2018 issue of Speed Magazine).

Trixie EcoSport

But Freedom remains in Iloilo, and when we needed a vehicle to drive to my friend’s wedding weekend in Tagaytay (with a series of events in different locations over the course of two days), I took the opportunity to test-drive an SUV: the new Ford EcoSport. You see, my husband refuses to drive a sedan on an out-of-town trip (SUVs make him feel safer and more secure), but I preferred to drive a more compact vehicle since I learned to drive stick on a sedan (and am more comfortable with it). The Ford EcoSport, a stylish compact SUV, is our happy medium with its easy maneuverability, high fuel efficiency, and secure handling on the open road.

EcoSport front 2

Since it was first launched in the Philippines in 2014, the EcoSport has become a familiar sight on city streets across the country (including Iloilo where I now reside), having gained wide appeal for its combination of agility, affordability, and fuel efficiency of a compact car with the ground clearance, flexibility, and spaciousness of an SUV. I know several people who drive an EcoSport and are satisfied with it.

I’m pretty sure new and soon-to-be owners of the new EcoSport mini SUV will love the enhancements in both exterior and interior design, new and upgraded smart and safety features and driver-assist technologies (DATs), and improvements in driving performance and fuel efficiency. Here’s my detailed review if you’re considering buying one:

EcoSport side 4

Better fuel efficiency and more environment-friendly while retaining power

The new EcoSport has two engine variants: the 1.0L EcoBoost 125 PS petrol engine and the new and more powerful 1.5L Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (TiVCT) engine, producing 125 and 123 horsepower, respectively. My husband and I road-tested the EcoBoost, Ford’s most technologically-advanced engine ever, which produces more power while consuming less fuel.

EcoSport back

What I love most about the EcoBoost engine is it’s highly fuel-efficient and environmentally responsible with low carbon emissions. Over the course of three days, we drove the EcoSport from Alabang to Cavite, Tagaytay, Nasugbu in Batangas, back to Tagaytay, Sta. Rosa in Laguna for some shopping and dining, and around Metro Manila before stopping in San Juan—and we only gassed up once.  It not only helped us save money on fuel, it’s also consistent with the more sustainable lifestyle I’m trying to lead (as we all should).

EcoSport back 2

The high-end Titanium variant we test-drove also now comes with the auto start/stop technology when idling at traffic light (or in heavy traffic). When you’re idle, the engine stops to save fuel, while the air-con and radio remain on. When you’re ready to go, just press gas and the engine automatically switches back on. My husband was not a fan of this feature because of the slight delay in acceleration as the engine switches on when you step on the gas, but it’s only a brief delay. There’s no way to turn the auto start/stop feature off, in case you were wondering.

Trixie EcoSport interior

Still, the upgraded engine does allow for smoother and faster acceleration, together with the new 6-speed automatic transmission. As someone who drives stick, I appreciated the ease of driving an automatic vehicle (no clutch!). It took some getting used to (I drove slow, haha), but I enjoyed the drive.

EcoSport steering wheel automatic transmission

Easy to drive 

My husband and I both enjoyed the EcoSport’s easy maneuverability even through crowded streets, narrow and/or winding roads, and tight parking spaces. The new mini SUV comes with lots of DATs that make city and out-of-town driving safer and more convenient, like automatic headlights, smart keyless entry and powering up the engine (just push a button), and my favorite: rear-view camera with park assist, which makes reverse parking a cinch, whew!

EcoSport navigation 1

A safety feature that gave us extra peace of mind during our road trip was the hill start assist control that temporarily prevents the SUV from rolling backwards (or forwards) when making a hill start, which was especially helpful when driving bumper-to-bumper in the city and on the steep roads to and through Tagaytay.

EcoSport steering and touchscreen 2

Oh, here’s an anecdote about how paranoid men are when women are behind the wheel: I decide to take over driving the EcoSport from our hotel in Tagaytay to Sta. Rosa on our way back. As I was easing myself out of the inclined driveway with an SUV in front of me and a van behind, the guard on duty panicked when I was driving too fast for his comfort, stopping me in panic, as if afraid I would hit the SUV in front of me. My husband decided to take the wheel instead and just let me drive when we got to Sta. Rosa.

EcoSport front interiors

What I wish I could have told them was, the EcoSport is equipped with electronic brake-force distribution system, electronic stability program, and anti-locking brake system. When all else fails, there are up to six airbags available in the Titanium variant. However, my husband did have a reason for being worried, at least when it came to our review unit: We both experienced instances of needing to floor the brake pedal hard before our review unit stopped. Make sure to have this adjusted to your level of comfort when you buy an EcoSport.

Smarter, more technologically-advanced features

EcoSport Navigation 4

What I did do for most of the trip was navigate, since I’m more familiar with the roads around Manila, Tagaytay, and Sta. Rosa than my husband who grew up in Iloilo and Canada. It helped that the new EcoSport is powered by Sync 3 with navigation that allowed my husband to keep his eyes on the road and hands on the wheel while easily checking where we were going (with my help), also because the 8-inch multicolor touchscreen is larger than ever, protruding over the leather dashboard. The navigation displays so much info onscreen when on the highway (with all the exits and signs), which we found distracting at times, but elsewhere is super useful and convenient.

EcoSport navigation 2

Info overload on the navigation when we’re on the expressway

EcoSport navigation 3

Snyc 3 also features hands-free/voice control for the entertainment and vehicle information system, also allowing you to answer calls and view text messages when you sync your phone with it. The AppLink 3.0 feature on Sync 3 gives it intuitive smartphone-like actions, allowing passengers to use their favorite smartphone applications via the car’s touchscreen (I was able to use Spotify, Waze as alternative navigation, and AccuWeather). I had some trouble at first with syncing my phone and the bluetooth controls, and figuring out how to work the navigation, but I eventually got the hang of it.

EcoSport navigation night 2

Controls at night

Speaking of Spotify, we were impressed by how good the sound system was of the new EcoSport Titanium variant: it’s a 7-speaker audio system. The bass, great volume, and quality of the sounds ensured we enjoyed our favorite road trip music tracks nonstop.

Jessie Trixie EcoSport

Sunny selfies thanks to the sunroof!

Since we had sunny days throughout our road trip, we enjoyed it to the fullest with the EcoSport’s power sunroof—a cool feature to have this summer! While we never got to try it, the EcoSport reportedly also has rain-sensing wipers that start automatically when the sensors detect moisture on the windshield. (Perfect for new drivers who still get confused with the turning signal lever and that of the wipers, haha.)

EcoSport interiors

Enhanced exterior and interior design to match one’s style

As far as appearances are concerned, my husband and I definitely like how the new EcoSport looks. It was great for making an entrance (and exit) at events, like at the hotel and church where the wedding we attended was held. I always exclaimed to my husband each time we got into the vehicle, “Ang ganda talaga ng EcoSport na ‘to! (This EcoSport really looks good!)”

EcoSport side 2

EcoSport in Canyon Ridge

What I personally loved was the color: Canyon Ridge, which was like a bold copper or bronze shade that really made a statement and looked so sophisticated, available for the Titanium variant only. The rest of the six stylish colors the new EcoSport comes in are Absolute Black, Ingot Silver, Crystal White, Ruby Red (Trend and Titanium variants only), and Blue Lightning (Titanium variant only).

EcoSport front

Its trendy exterior features a refreshed grille, a new hood design, headlamps, and lightweight and extra durable 17-inch alloy wheels. For an added measure of confidence, the new EcoSport has a high ground clearance of 209mm, ensuring smooth driving even on bumpy and uneven roads, which we encountered in Tagaytay, Cavite, and the chapel in Batangas.

EcoSport side 1

Meanwhile, its interior enhancements put driver and passenger comfort and convenience as top priority, especially with the Titanium variant that sports a more stylish design and features. The new EcoSport has added smart storage spaces. It can handle a load of up to 1,178 liters, with its trunk spacious enough to accommodate luggage for out of town trips for city dwellers. For our trip to Tagaytay, we each brought medium-sized luggage to fit all our outfits and shoes for the wedding’s multiple events (plus back-up), another overnight bag, my husband’s suit in a garment bag, and later on, our shopping bags.

EcoSport luggage

The trunk can fit two medium-sized luggage, one overnight bag, and several shopping bags

There are also 25 smart storage compartments that offer plenty of space to stash your stuff: from coffee cups and bottles to smartphones, tablets, umbrellas, shoes, glasses, and other accessories. Since the review unit’s windows aren’t tinted, we made sure to hide all the valuables we left in the SUV’s many secret compartments and seat pockets each time we stepped out.

EcoSport eyeglass case

Compartment for storing your eyeglasses or sunnies

The media bin makes it easy to stay connected with friends while on-the-go (and while I navigated, Googled destinations, posted on Instagram stories and Facebook, and played DJ at the same time), with USB ports for easy smartphone charging and storage. My husband and I were able to charge three phones simultaneously while on the road.

EcoSport vanity mirror and light

I love that behind the passenger’s sun visor, there’s a vanity mirror and light for touch-ups, day or night!

Finally, the seats are comfortable, which you’ll really appreciate in long road trips and when you’re stuck in heavy traffic, like we were on the way back to Manila. I was seated shotgun so I really enjoyed ample legroom!

EcoSport passenger

Price and verdict

Now let’s get to the detail you’ve waited to read—the new EcoSport is available in four variants with the following price points:

  • 1.0L EcoBoost Titanium AT at P1,168,000 (this is the model we drove)
  • 1.5L Trend AT at P1,028,000
  • 1.5L Trend MT at P968,000
  • 1.5L Ambiente MT at P918,000

Offering the rugged versatility of an SUV, the new EcoSport is great for daily city driving and weekend out-of-town trips because not only is it hip, fun, and easy to drive, it’s also safe, reliable, and brimming with cool smart features.

The new Ford EcoSport is now available at all Ford dealerships nationwide. Know more about the EcoSport here.

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