Reacquainting with the crossover that started it all

With the emergence of Chinese vehicles in the market, Filipinos are now spoilt for choice if they want to buy a car. Among the popular choices in the market is the subcompact crossover segment, which carries the flexibility and ruggedness of massive SUVs but in a rather compact package.

Simply put, if you want a tall vehicle but aren’t a fan of the nuisances of large vehicles, subcompact crossovers are your best bet.

In the Philippines, the Ford EcoSport is the pioneer model in the subcompact crossover segment. Launched in 2014, the EcoSport is the first B-segment SUV, instantly becoming a hit in the market. It was a game-changer, so to speak, but ultimately, it practically gave Filipinos a choice.

Seven years on, the EcoSport is still in the market, albeit more techie and updated than its initial version, but now has more than a handful of rivals in the field. I’ve recently got the keys to one for a short drive south of Metro Manila and reacquaint myself with the nameplate that started it all.

Getting familiar with the EcoSport again wasn’t a task. The controls are straightforward and if you’ve ever been behind the wheel of any Ford vehicle lately, you’ll likely know where to look at if you’re trying to tweak something. The buttons and knobs in the latest version of the EcoSport are largely similar to when it was launched; the layout, however, is more organized than before.

I was lent with the base Trend AT variant for the drive. Despite that, it’s already equipped with a massive 9-inch infotainment. It doesn’t have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but integration with my iPhone was just as seamless. Devoid of leather, the fabric and polyurethane material in the cabin didn’t feel cheap and space was as expected – plenty for two people who’s up for an overnight stay in a remote yet homey BnB in Cavite.

What I greatly appreciate with the EcoSport was the actual drive. Sure, it wasn’t exhilarating nor was it something for the charts, but it was easy and effortless. The crossover’s size made it a very delightful machine to squeeze into tight streets, which was the case during our southbound escapade.

But the biggest surprise was the muddy roads approximately 300 meters away from our destination. I was thankful that I was driving an EcoSport at that time as it turned the relatively challenging terrain into a cakewalk with its high ground clearance. If I were in a sedan or a hatchback, we wouldn’t have made it past the slippery and uneven road.

Then it hit me. This is practically the biggest selling point of the EcoSport. With the Philippines’ unexpected and largely varying roads, having a bit of space from the ground is an advantage – and it can do so without the pains of driving a massive vehicle. Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of small crossovers or any SUV, for that matter. But after this reacquaintance with the Ford EcoSport, I understand why Filipinos are such a sucker for these tiny SUVs.

More importantly, I’m excited for what’s in store for the future versions of the EcoSport. Some updated versions were already seen roaming the streets of India and it’s only a matter of time before Ford eventually hosts a global launch.

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