Ford has finally brought its subcompact crossover to the United States. The 2018 Ford EcoSport, pronounced â€œEchoSportâ€� for some reason, is hitting dealer lots as I type. Available in other markets since 2012, the recently refreshed second-generation EcoSport arrives on our shores to take on segment favorites like the Mazda CX-3 and Buick Encore.
The world seems to love mini crossovers. Ford is late to the party here, but the Blue Oval crowd are trying to make up ground with a class leading vehicle the best they could do on a budget. We have not driven the EcoSport, but we have sat in it. If anyone asks, we did not break any trim pieces. After sitting in the EcoSport, opening its doors, touching its Cozy Coupe-grade plastics, using its inconvenient rear hatch, and not being able fit my feet into the back seat, it is obvious that it is not good. No road test will change that.
But here we are, and Ford needs to offer a product in this segment. Engineering a vehicle for Third World markets while GM brought the upscale-branded Buick Encore to the U.S. proved to be a misstep. Now Ford has to poach buyers, make bold moves, and go further. We all know what that means: a marketing campaign!
According to Ford, the EcoSport is here to hack your life.
Ford used a YouGov survey of more than 3,000 American adults that identified aspects of their lives they wish they could “life hack.” The top life hacks on the list are the opportunity to better their commute, have adventures and improve their social life. So it took a survey to find out that people want a better commute, do fun stuff, and interact with other people. Great. Letâ€™s take a look at how Ford says the EcoSport can help.
Up first, the commute. According to Fordâ€™s ad copy, the EcoSport will do the following:
Improving the daily commute is easy with Ford EcoSport, whether through enhanced connectivity that enables customers to listen to their favorite podcasts, technologies that allow them to optimize their journey by avoiding traffic jams, or the ability to control their household features from the road.
Translation: Ford is putting Alexa in your EcoSport. Now your child, who needed their shins removed in order to fit in the backseat, can ask Alexa obscene things or order Tide Pods from the convenience of the freeway. It will also add WiFi, lots of charging capabilities, and Waze. Consider your commute hacked.
The vehicle can also accommodate a crib-sized blow-up mattress when you need that afternoon nap. I hope you don’t store anything in your trunk or have a child seat anchored in your EcoSport.
Next up, adventure:
Along with a vehicle that offers versatility and stamina, todayâ€™s road trips require plenty of space for people and ample storage for travel bags, digital devices and gear. For adventure-ready storage and clever use of space, the all-new EcoSport offers as many as 30 storage pockets, bins and hooks to make efficient use of every inch of the interior.
Translation: 30 pockets! This is an important metric for a car. Forget about reliability. Pockets! The EcoSport has enough trunk space for three small- to medium-sized bags. Ford has added many bins, pockets and compartments for your avocados, beard trimmer attachments, bitcoin, fabric pieces, tape, and paint swatches. The EcoSport’s Intelligent 4WD system will get you across potholed urban hellscapes. It can also traverse grass parking lots at your next mud race. #adventure
EcoSport can also help your social life:
Whether joining a club, participating in a sport, doing community volunteer work, or making the effort to spend more time with friends and family, EcoSport offers several ways to help customers improve their social life. Its movable floor board and fold-away second-row seats provide a flat area to safely haul objects of all shapes and sizes â€“ whether equipment to the big game, flowers to a weekend gardening club or homemade cupcakes to a bake sale.
Spending more time with loved ones means more travel, and EcoSportâ€™s available BO PLAYâ„¢ premium audio system by HARMAN features 10 speakers and nine amplified channels to ensure every sing-along is the memorable bonding experience customers signed up for.
Translation: What!?!? EcoSport will improve your social life and sing alongs? It will do this by offering a nice audio system and fold-away second-row seats? At least Ford admits the back seat is trash and your friends wonâ€™t sit back there. Fold down those seats so you can bring one pan of brownies to your gentrification meeting of choice. Just bring a fold up table, a cooler, and some chairs, too. Throw in a back-of-the-door organizer for maximum hanging.
Ford isnâ€™t just content with telling everyone how the EcoSport can hack their life. Itâ€™s launching a multi-week marketing campaign as EcoSport arrives at dealerships. This started with its “EcoSport Life Hack Academy” in New York City last week. The EcoSport Life Hack Academy features top life-hacking experts from across the country, including life-hacker and TV personality Tia Mowry. ItÂ appears the marketing budget was only big enough to afford one of the sisters from the 1990s sitcom Sister Sister.
The event includes hacks on weekend getaways, fitness, meal preparation, small spaces and careers. However, the event does not seem to focus on things that are important to actual cars. Quality, fuel-economy, and how the EcoSport drives are less important to Ford than Whole30 meal prep.
Ford will also expand its ad campaign with a digital component aimed at helping consumers experience various first-ever adventures. Visitors to the campaign website answer the question, â€œWhat do you want to do for the first time?â€� and Ford responds by making some dreams a reality. Yes, now Jim Hackett is your fairy godmother.
Ford is setting itself up for some interesting first-time adventures. I hope the company is able to make some come true. If the campaign website keeps my information private, maybe Iâ€™ll see what Ford can do for me. Hey, maybe they can grant my wish of Ford building a quality subcompact CUV! So much for dreams…
Whatever your answer is to the question, â€œWhat do you want to do for the first time?â€� it shouldn’t be â€œpurchase a 2018 Ford EcoSport.â€�
[Images: Ford Motor Company]