Ford’s small EcoSport SUV to hit U.S. in early ’18

Michael Wayland and Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

Hollywood — After more than a decade of sales overseas, Ford Motor Co. will bring the small Ford EcoSport SUV to the United States, arriving in dealerships in early 2018 from India.

The Dearborn-based automaker unveiled the latest generation of the subcompact SUV in Hollywood on Monday, a day before the Los Angeles Auto Show media days begin, with the help of popular-artist DJ Khaled and former “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest via the world’s first Snapchat vehicle reveal.

“I say Eco, you say Sport,” yelled DJ Khalid following he and the “American Idol” host debuting the vehicles along Hollywood Boulevard. It was one of several chants for the popular artist, including: “It’s all about the Ford EcoSport, put your hands in the sky.”

The vehicle is produced in Brazil, India, Thailand and Russia. Versions destined for the United States will be built at Ford’s plant in Chennai, India.

Ford’s EcoSport arrives several years after some automakers began selling their own subcompact SUVs in the United States. Competitor General Motors Co., for example, introduced the popular Buick Encore in 2013 and recently added a sibling, the Chevrolet Trax, to the stable.

Small SUVs have gained a following among drivers in urban areas who want the functionality and easy parking of a tiny crossover.

Buyers will be able to choose from a 1-liter, three-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost engine or a 2-liter, four-cylinder EcoBoost. The 2-liter will come standard with four-wheel drive. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Ford did not offer fuel-economy estimates.

The automaker says the small crossover with a swinging tailgate is full of connectivity, charging and storage options, including as many as 30 pockets, bins and hooks in the interior. In the rear, the EcoSport has a movable floor board and fold-away second-row seats that create a flat cargo area.

Compact SUVs are the stars at LA Auto Show

The vehicle is built on the same platform as the Ford Fiesta. The EcoSport is expected to be the smallest utility vehicle from the Dearborn-based automaker for the U.S.

Ford introduced the first generation of the EcoSport in select markets in 2003. A second generation launched in Brazil and other global markets in 2012.

It is currently produced in Brazil, India, Thailand and Russia. Versions destined for the U.S. will be built in India.

Drivers will be able to customize their EcoSport, choosing from 10 exterior colors, seven ambient lighting options and four trims: S, SE, SES and Titanium. The SES trim includes four-wheel drive, a sport-tuned suspension and steering, sports seats and bold copper accents in the interior.

Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities.

It also showcases an available premium B&O PLAY audio system. B&O PLAY will come standard on the EcoSport Titanium and features 10 speakers, branded tweeters and woofers in the front doors, and a subwoofer in the rear. The small SUV also will be available with HD radio, SiriusXM satellite radio and dual FM radio antenna.

Drivers also will be able to start or lock their vehicle using SYNC Connect with the FordPass mobile app.

Ford is holding a Hollywood pop-up event that is open to the public through Wednesday night.

Small crossovers and SUVs are expected to be a major part of the L.A. Auto Show, which officials say will feature more than 50 vehicle debuts.

Toyota on Thursday will reveal a compact crossover, the 2018 C-HR. Mazda plans to reveal its redesigned 2017 CX-5 compact SUV at the show on Wednesday.

The Jeep Compass compact SUV will make its North American debut for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV alongside an all-new SUV from Italian brand Alfa Romeo.

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Twitter: @MikeWayland