When the Ford EcoSport was first introduced in the Philippines in 2014, it was the first subcompact SUV available in our market, and it created quite a stir. I was lucky to join the regional drive held in Hua Hin, Thailand, and it made a good impression among the media participants. For me, I found the exterior pleasant looking, but it was the well-thought interior that impressed me the most. In the vernacular, "magaling ang pagkaka-Tetris" in the sense that space was well utilized and the cabin didn't make you feel claustrophobic despite its dimensions. Some called it the Fiesta on stilts because of their shared platform. Positioned as a fun city car, its size and features married those of a compact hatch an SUV, and included a 550 mm water wading depth that became quite controversial being deeper than some bigger SUVs at that time.
Seven years and a refresh or two later, the EcoSport is... er... sportier than ever with deeper character lines and more emphasized feature lines on the hood. Lights are new, the front grille is new, and 17' alloy wheels are now standard across all variants.
The 2021 Ruby Red 1.5L Trend A/T EcoSport that was sent to us is the non-EcoBoost EcoSport's middle child. Like the Trend MT and Titanium AT variants, it is powered by a 1.5-liter Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (TiVCT) engine that produces 123hp @ 6,500rpm, and 150Nm of torque at 4,500rpm. Aside from the base variant of EcoSport with the 5-speed manual transmission, the rest of the current variants are equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
This variant shares many features with the higher Titanium variant as it is also equipped with multiple smart driver-assist technologies like the Rear-View Camera with Rear Parking Assist, Rain-Sensing Wipers, Automatic Headlights, Follow-me-home Lighting, and Smart Keyless Entry (the Titanium variant gets the Push Button Start/Stop). Other safety features include Hill Start Assist (HSA), Hill Descent Control, Traction Control, Electronic Stability Control, and the Anti-Locking Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution System (EBD).
We are happy to report that we didn't get to try any of the active safety features of the EcoSport during our trip.
Since our kids (13 and 3) have literally been cooped up for more than a year, one of the sanity savers our family has come up with is to go on short roadtrips where we can get a bit of fresh air and recharge.
On the few and far in between trips we've done this year, we only followed one playbook. We'd agree on a general destination, we'd load up the car with lots of food and a full cooler, and drive. Stopovers were not planned, as they would depend on what was available and if there were other people there. Having lots of baon was crucial to our being self-sufficient so that we would not need to stop anywhere in case we couldn't find an appropriate location. We thought of it as our bubble at home, only on wheels :D
Because the EcoSport is smaller than what we are used to, we knew we had to pack more conscientiously. Surprisingly though, the boot was deep enough to fit the long end of our 36-quart Coleman cooler which left us more than enough space for the bulky stuff like our bags (plural) of chips and other food. I had forgotten that the EcoSport had numerous cubbies and cup holders so we conveniently had places to stow our drinks and other roadtrip essentials like charging cables and other devices.
Our chosen destination was Taal Lake, and then possibly Tagaytay on the way back. The volcano had been quiet for about a week and we thought that we could always change plans in case it started to act up while we were en route. Despite its small size, the EcoSport was confident on the highways and we didn't feel intimidated by the bigger vehicles we shared the road. From the Expressway, we took the Tanauan exit, and just followed the road and looked for the water using Waze and our Pokémon Go's map.
By pure luck, we chanced upon a deserted Taal Central Fish Port, in Laurel, Batangas. Since business was usually conducted there early in the morning, we literally had the place to ourselves. It was a clear day and a good learning experience for the kids to see the live volcano within a lake within a volcano within another lake.
After some pictures were taken and food consumed, we went back to our maps to look for the nearest access to Tagaytay. With my luck, it turned out to be the twistiest way up the mountain. Needless to say, we had a more-than-competent driver, but the EcoSport also did well maneuvering up the mountain roads. Way better than my motion sickness, that's for sure. The EcoSport's Electric-Power-Assisted Steering (EPAS) makes steering extra light and steering less of a chore. Personally, I prefer a bit more feedback from the wheels, but that isn't a common sentiment.
When we got to Tagaytay, we decided to might as well check out the new spots on the ridge. We tried our luck at a property we found that had an outdoor setup with open parking and individual gazebos. We thought they had a drive-in option of sorts where we could order and eat from the car but alas they had none, so we had to pass. We then decided to check out the strip of new places on the other side of the ridge thinking we could get some pizzas and eat them at the empty (pay) parking lot we picnicked at on a previous trip.
This trip was when the IATF had (temporarily) allowed kids 5-and-above to enter restaurants and commercial establishments -- not that we had any intentions of dining indoors. The strip of new places was full and when we peeked at the lot we were eyeing, it was full as well. No biggie, though, as we were prepared to eat in the safety of the car. (Map lights are perfect for this, btw.)
On our way home, we made a quick detour to check out a mostly open-air park in Alfonso, Cavite, that I read in a parenting group on Facebook. We were able to get a quick bite there, and our driver (Pops) was able to rest from all the driving.
The highlight of the trip was what I found the kids doing while I was buying fruits from a nearby stall. The Ate was running after the Bunso who was having the time of her life in the grassy expanse that was the makeshift parking lot. Sadly, kids can't enjoy things as simple as playing outdoors because of this pandemic, but things will get better. I know it will. And we learn to cope.
The EcoSport is a lot of car for its sub-one million price tag. While it is admittedly not the most powerful or fuel-efficient in its category, its strength lies in its driving dynamics, build quality, amenities, and safety features. Parts availability, which was one of the concerns early on, has also been addressed by the recent addition of a facility that will eventually make the Philippines a major parts hub for the ASEAN region.
If you're in the market for a small SUV, do give it a look-see.
While you're still here, we might as well inform you that Ford Philippines is extending promotional offers for the Ford EcoSport, Everest, Ranger, and Transit until the end of August 2021.
Customers can get as much as Php 188,000 cash discount for the Ford EcoSport, bringing down the price of the EcoSport 1.5L Trend M/T to Php 750,000. Alternatively, customers can also avail of Php 7,999 low monthly fee with free 4 months amortization or 0% interest up to 60 months. An additional special offer of outright Php 45,000 cash savings or free 5-year scheduled service plan, 5-year extended warranty (from 3 years), and 5-year roadside assistance package is also up for grabs.
A cash discount of Php 130,000 is also extended to customers getting the EcoSport 1.5L Trend A/T, or a low monthly fee of Php 8,588 with free 3 months amortization or 0% interest up to 36 months. Also available is an additional offer of outright Php 45,000 cash savings or free 3-year scheduled service plan, 5-year extended warranty (from 3 years), and 5-year roadside assistance package is also up for grabs.
The EcoSport 1.0L Titanium A/T is still available with a Php 150,000 cash discount.