Tuesday, May 7, 2019

2019 Ford Ecosport: Why The New Is Better Than Its Predecessor

2019 Ford Ecosport Titanium 3-Cyl 1.5L 6AT

When Ford Philippines launched the Ecosport in 2014, the energetic hard-working millennial Filipino quickly fell in love with its young stylish adventurous appeal. It quickly became the top-selling sub-compact crossover in the country. 

It was also Ford Philippines' best-selling model, which in four years time garnered a whopping 39,000 units sold. It wasn't until complaints from owners started trickling in with regards to their Ecosport equipped with the infamous Powershift Dual-Clutch transmission. They unanimously complained of transmission shudder and unreliability. The flaw and culprit were later found to be defective seals that allowed transmission fluid to leak out and contaminate the dry clutch. 


3-Cylinder 1.5-Liter Ti-VCT, 123 PS with 150Nm Torque

Learning from all these negative issues, Ford redesigned and refreshed the whole powertrain configuration and launched the new 2019 Ecosport Titanium powered by a 3-Cyl 1.0L Turbocharged engine in August 2018. And early this year, they launched the Titanium variant with a 3-Cyl 1.5L Ti-VCT naturally-aspirated Engine. Both powerplants are paired to a conventional 6-speed automatic transmission. Could this configuration be the Ecosports saving grace?

At First Glance

I was given the new Ecosport Titanium 3-cyl 1.5-liter 6-speed Automatic to test-drive and review for five days. While doing my mandatory walk-around, I noticed that it still had the same bold shape as its predecessor including the spare tire casing at the rear, but it improved aesthetically with the larger front chrome grill,  headlights, and taillights.


Front Chrome Grill

Headlight
Signal and Fog Light



A look from behind.
    
It seemed quite small from the outside at first, but it grew bigger especially when I sat inside. It had adequate headroom and I didn't feel claustrophobic at all. I just appreciated the sculpted seat cushions that caressed and gently hugged my body in place. 


Sculpted seat cushions
The Cockpit
A really useful 4.5-inch Real-time data LCD screen.

If it's a champion in people-comfort and space, it failed in the cargo room category. We chanced upon testing its cargo capability when we picked up Arabelle's mom who was visiting from the USA at NAIA 1. She had 2 large suitcases and one hand carry. Bummer, there was only room for one large suitcase at the back compartment. The two other bags we put on the back seat.


The Monchster juggling his puzzle skills to fit 2 large suitcases into the Ecosport's rear compartment.


Rear compartment with 60/40 folding seat configuration

It rode smooth on paved roads with minimal road noise due to the sound-deadening pads Ford had placed on the undercarriage and also due to the Michelin Primacy 3 tires installed. Michelin spends millions of dollars on research and development making their tires the quietest and safest on the road today.


17-inch alloy wheels with Michelin Primacy 3 tires and ventilated front disc brakes
The suspension was firm and quite jiggly on rough roads, but the cushioned seats tend to dampen the shake. 

Its riding height of 206 centimeters makes it a perfect urban vehicle and daily driver. I didn't feel intimidated at all driving side-by-side big trucks and buses. The Ecosport boasts of a wading depth of 55 centimeters which I wasn't able to test it due to the lack of precipitation. But, I was able to test the cooling capacity of the air-conditioning system. 


The Ecosport I tested didn't come with tinted windows, but the AC was able to make the whole cabin comfortably cold and maintain it even at midday. 


Air-conditioning control  and USB connectivity.

The Powertrain

The new variant couples a 3-cylinder, 1.5-liter Ti-VCT gasoline engine, which is capable of up to 123hp with 150Nm of torque, to a 6-speed automatic transmission. 

Driving the Ecosport at high speed didn't really excite me. It's quick, but not fast. The transmission shifted late and at higher RPMs. It felt like it was in sport mode all the time. I guess this is why I averaged 9 km/l during my 5-day test drive. A little reprogramming of the power control module would do the trick.

Take note, it wasn't made to be a race car. It has the power to overtake on the straights, is stable, and squat. But on curves, I noticed a bit of body roll maybe due to its high center of gravity. It held on though and the tires never screeched.


Safety and Security Features

The EcoSport Titanium variant offers airbags (driver, front passenger, side), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), front and rear disc brakes, traction control, Hill Start Assist (HSA), Hill Descent Control (HDC), ISOFIX child seat anchors, rearview camera, immobilizer, stability control, electronic door locks, and speed sensing door locks.


Rear disc brakes

Convenience Features


Making the ride more pleasurable is its smart keyless entry with push-button start/stop, a power sunroof, parking-assist features, cooled glove box, tilt-telescopic steering wheel, and a floating 8-inch Ford Sync 3 infotainment system which features Applink and voice control.  It comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity too. The 7-speaker system sounded pretty good even at low volume levels.


Power Sunroof


Floating 8-inch touchscreen infotainment screen
The EcoSport is a tall car to get into. I noticed that it didn't have any grab-handles on the ceiling or pillars to assist people in getting in, but there is one on the dash fronting the passenger seat. Why? 


Missing grab/assist handles. 


Monchster Rating

The New 2019 Ecosport is a compact crossover made for urban driving. It is definitely not a family out-of-town adventure car. Well, if it was for an overnighter maybe? Where would all the pieces of luggage fit? 

If all goes well, Ford may have solved the problem of the shuddering tranny with this pairing of new engines and transmissions. We might just see more of the blue-badged Ecosports running around the metro.

In a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest, I would give the New 2019 Ford Ecosport Titanium 3-Cyl 1.5L 6AT a Monchster Rating of 8.0


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Monch "Monchster" Henares is an award-winning automotive journalist and feature writer for the Philippine Daily Inquirer's "Road Talk", media blogger @ MonchsterChronicles, tech and motoring specialist, inventor, and automotive engineer. He managed the motorpool for a limousine company in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. He is now based in Manila, Philippines and is the President of BuildMeUp Corp.
You may e-mail him at monchnrs@gmail.com
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Instagram: @themonchster 
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