Ford enters the subcompact SUV segment with the Ford EcoBoost

SUVs and crossovers are big business here in the U.S., which is why just about every automaker here has a handful of models that range from compact to excessively large. Ford currently has a total of six SUVs in its lineup if you count the Transit Connect, but that lineup is about to get a new, miniature addition to the family to the form of the Ford EcoSport. Offered with either a 1.0-liter three-cylinder or a 2.0-liter four-banger, this little SUV should have a fair amount of power to go with lots of optional features. There will be a total of four trim levels, all of which have a side-hinged rear hatch and can be had in no fewer than 10 exterior colors. When you add in things like the seven different ambient lighting choices, intelligent 4WD (on some models,) and the Sync 3 infotainment system into the mix, you get a pretty solid package for an SUV that’s small enough that it doesn’t look like it belongs in the fuel-hungry United States.

Something I really liked about Ford is that it didn’t buy into the subcompact SUV market, but it’s only fair to at least give EcoSport a chance. Maybe it will find itself right at home here in the U.S. After all, the subcompact SUV segment is really hopping these days with models like the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V, and the Buick Encore all being fan favorites. Then you’ve got the Jeep Renegade, Chevy Trax, Nissan Juke, Subaru Crosstrek, and even the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport all trying to get their fair share of the pie too. Even if the EcoSport doesn’t become a fan favorite, it sure will be fun to sit back and watch it duke it out in this overcrowded segment.

With that said, do you think the EcoSport has what it takes to stick it to all of the heavy competition and come out on top? Well, let’s take a good look at it and how it stacks up to see what it’s really working with.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Ford EcoSport.


2018 Ford EcoSport High Resolution Exterior
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Even if this little SUV wasn’t sporting a name like “EcoSport” or wearing a Ford badge, you would know at first glance that it is a Ford. Take a look at the front end; does it look familiar? IT should because it’s nearly identical to other Ford models like the Ford Fiesta, Ford C-Max, Ford Escape, and Ford Edge, just downsized and tweaked a bit. All of the general design cues in the front end are there – that oddly shaped grille with horizontal slats, the small air dam that is surrounded by an insert to make it look larger, and those funky shaped headlights and fog lights. The odd styling around the fog lights actually makes it look like Ford intended to use larger fog lights but aborted the idea early on and forgot to change the design of the fascia. Something fairly unique to this front end is the way the A-pillars are curved at the bottom and feed into the elevated edges of the hood. It’s a surprisingly muscular look that gives the impression that windshield is recessed just a bit.

The EcoSport brings together a utilitarian package with a slightly sculpted nature that is pretty unique in a crowded segment.

Moving over to the sides, we see typical Ford styling. There’s a mild body line that runs along the same plane as the door handles, and down below, toward the bottom of the doors, there’s a sculpted look that bleeds lightly into the somewhat protrusive fender flares. The front fender flares look nice, but in back, they almost look forced – or like you could lower the body by about 8 inches and make this thing a low-rider. The body cladding from the bottom of the front fascia wraps around and continues along the bottom of the doors and the side skirts. The side view mirrors are mounted to the doors, but they would look better if the were more horizontal and mounted in that corner, right between the A-pillar and the edge of the door – this could be something we see change with the first facelift in a few years.

Around back, the rear quarter glass bends ever so slightly toward the rear hatch, following the control of the quarter panel its self. The hatch is as upright as it could possibly be but is hinged on the driver’s side, so it swings open from right to left instead of swinging upward like 98 percent of SUVs on the market. The sculpted body line on the bottom of the hatch matches that of the wheel wells and that sculpted line on the bottom of the doors. The body cladding also continues to the rear and covers the entire rear fascia. There is a reflector in each corner of the rear fascia to go with a silver insert in the middle that matches only the roof rails up top.

The Competition

2016 - 2017 Mazda CX-3 High Resolution Exterior
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After a lot of waiting, here it is folks: the 2016 Mazda CX-3.
2016 - 2017 Honda HR-V
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2017 Buick Encore
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As I mentioned before, this segment is crowded, and the EcoSport has a lot of work to do if it’s going to compete against the likes of the Mazda CX3 (top left,) the Honda HR-V (top right,) or the Buick Encore (bottom.) to name a few. Each of these models takes their own approach to exterior styling while maintaining a nearly identical body styling. The CX-3 is the oddest of the three with more of a coupe-like stance with its slightly slower roof, but that’s part of the reason why (U.S. News ranks it No. 1 out of the many competitors in this niche. In comparison, it earned an overall rating of 8.3 out of 10 compared to the HR-V’s ranking of 8.1 or the Encore’s rating of 8.0. All three are equally as stylish, but none of them have the unique styling seen in the front end that the EcoSport has. In case you don’t realize what I’m talking about, I mean the curved A-Pillars and the elevated edges of the hood.

What it really boils down to in the looks department is what exactly it is you’re looking for. If you want something that’s really sporty, then the CX-3 is really your best bet. But, if you’re looking for something that’s more utilitarian in nature as far as design goes, you’ll want to go with the EcoSport, Honda HR-V, or the Buick Encore, as they all feature more SUV-ish look to them.

Mazda CX-3 Honda HR-V Buick Encore Ford EcoSport
Wheelbase (inches) 101.2 102.8 100.6 TBA
Length (inches) 168.3 169.1 168.4 TBA
Width (inches) 69.6 69.8 69.9 TBA
Height (inches) 60.7 63.2 65.2 TBA


2018 Ford EcoSport High Resolution Exterior
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The inside of the EcoSport is actually pretty sporty. Like a lot of other models in this segment, it has the wraparound dash and the option of bi-colored interior to help make it more appealing to the masses. The extension of the passenger side corner of the dash is actually unique to this segment as it curves sharply and independently of the driver’s side. This design helps to give the feeling of extra space and interior width. The instrument cluster is rather basic with two large gauges (tachometer and speedometer) that are divided by a small digital display. The Sync3 infotainment system that sits atop the dash as a funky design with a large knob on each lower corner and buttons in between. The steering wheel is a traditional Ford wheel with thumb buttons on each of the side spokes, and a divided third spoke at 6 O’clock.

The center console has a simplistic design with the BVAC controls front and center. There is a knob on either side with push buttons in between. This design actually goes well with the infotainment display just above it. There is a small pocket ahead of the shifter, but you couldn’t fit much in there. Just to the rear of the shifter, the center console drops off by about four inches or so – a move that helps to increase the feeling of space in an otherwise small vehicle – where there is a pair of cup holders and a couple of small storage cubbies surrounding the hand brake. Just behind that, the console elevates again to provide another storage compartment.

The inside of the EcoSport is actually pretty sporty. Like a lot of other models in this segment, it has the wraparound dash and the option of bi-colored interior to help make it more appealing to the masses.

We have yet to see what the rear passenger area looks like, but you can be sure there isn’t much for cargo room behind the rear seats. Ford has said that the seats fold down into the floor to provide room to move larger objects. Ford actually said that you could transport furniture, but I highly doubt you could move much outside of a small chair or table – it’s just the nature of small vehicles like this.

Ford hasn’t said too much about the customizability of those colored panels shown in the EcoSport’s interior, but considering there are seven different ambient lighting options and 10 exterior colors, I highly doubt that Ford wouldn’t provide the option to customize the various colored inserts throughout the cabin. On the comfort front, the seats don’t look to offer as much padding as you see on other models in this niche, and the way the right edge of the console jogs right a bit in front of the passenger seat, front legroom might be really cramped for the passenger. In fact, the more you look at it, the way the armrest on the door extends away from the door, along with the shape of the center console, means the passenger will have to keep their legs pretty close together when riding shotgun. It may not be a big deal for some, but it could prove to be uncomfortable on longer road trips.

The Competition

2016 - 2017 Mazda CX-3
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2016 - 2017 Honda HR-V
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2017 Buick Encore
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Multi-colored interiors are fairly common in the subcompact SUV segment. The most dramatic of all goes to the Mazda CX-3 (top left,) hands down. Like the EcoXport, the CX-3 has an infotainment display perched atop the dash, but the Mazda’s is motorized and can hideaway unlike that of the EcoSport. The CX03 feels much larger on the inside thanks to the small instrument cluster and the large, colored insert that runs the width of the dash from the instrument cluster toward the passenger door. The HVAC vents are small, sporty and round. The seats feature a lot more color than those in the EcoSport, and the center console offers better usability. It should also be noted that the CX-3 can be customized with two interior colors. The image you see above shows road inserts and white contrast with black trim – not bad.

On the other hand, you’ve got the Honda HR-V (top right)that provides more of a utilitarian look with the infotainment display built into the center stack and angled slightly toward the driver. The instrument cluster is larger than the CX-3’s and features a large, central speedometer. The HR-V also offers a dual-tone interior (in this case black and white), but the real deal maker here is the design of the center console. It is what I like to call a half-floater, which basically means is has a storage area and power sockets underneath the shifter area in the front. This allows for extra storage room and is innovative as far as bringing extras into what would be a cramped cabin otherwise. The HR-V also features a long, horizontal vent on the passenger side.

The Buick Encore (bottom) offers what has to be the most luxurious cabin of all, with a two-tier dash, large infotainment display, and straightforward center console. While there aren’t really colored options to choose from like you find in the other offerings, the upper tier of the dash, upper trim and the tops of the door trim panels are all a lighter shade of gray in contrast to the black interior. You’ll also notice that Buick made use of the wide base at the bottom of the A-Pillars by installing a tweeter in each corner, while the wraparound nature of the dash gives the interior an upscale feel that is more commonly found in higher-range vehicles.

In the end, the EcoSport actually comes off as quite a bit cheaper as far as interior appointments go. Compared to models like the CX-3 or Encore, the interior lacks that luxurious styling that we’ve all come to love. The CX-3 is definitely sportier, while the HR-V is more utilitarian but very inviting. It should also be noted that front legroom for the front passenger appears to be better in every model mentioned here over the EcoSport.


The EcoSport isn’t Scheduled to hit dealers until the first quarter of 2018, so it should come as no surprise that we have little to go on as far as performance or fuel economy goes. Ford has said that it can be had with a 1.0-liter, EcoBoost, three-cylinder or a 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The only other thing that we know for sure is that both come paired to a six-speed automatic transmission and that models equipped with the 2.0-liter engine get Ford’s Intelligent 4WD system as standard equipment.

2018 Ford EcoSport High Resolution Exterior
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Ford has said that it can be had with a 1.0-liter, EcoBoost, three-cylinder or a 2.0-liter four-cylinder.

While we don’t know anything else right now, we can speculate a bit as it would only make sense for Ford to use engine setups that it already has in its lineup. If you look to the Focus SE Sedan, you’ll find that the 1.0-liter EcoBoost in it delivers 123 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque. Of course, Ford could tune the engine to deliver a little more power for the EcoSport, but it’s more likely that it will carry the same specs. With the six-speed auto in the Focus, the engine delivers 30 mph in the city, 40 mpg on the highway, and 34 mpg combined. Of course, the dynamics of the EcoSport are a little different, so take those as rough fuel economy estimates at best – at least for now anyway.

Next in line is that 2.0-liter engine that, according to Ford’s initial press release, isn’t an EcoBoost engine – go figure, it’s called the Eco Sport but can be had without an EcoBoost. Given that this engine isn’t an EcoBoost, as far as we know, we can also look to the focus lineup. The non-EcoBoost 2.0 in the Focus delivers 160 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. This hits home for the range-topping model of a subcompact SUV, so this is the most likely engine to see for the range-topping model here. The engine does have flex fuel capability and delivers 26 mpg in the city, 38 mph on the highway, and 31 mpg combined in the Focus, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see similar numbers in the EcoBoost. Naturally, more details we become available closer to launch, so check back in the near future for updates.

The Compeititon

As far as the competition goes, performance and fuel economy is pretty standardized among a good handful of the models in this segment. The Mazda CX-3 can only be had with a SkyActiv 2.0-liter four-cylinder that delivers 146 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. It can be had in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, but that also plays a significant role in fuel economy. In FWD form, the CX-3 manages 29 mpg in the city, 35 mpg on the highway, and 31 mpg combined. Get all four wheels turning, however, and those numbers drop to 27,32,and 29 respectively.

The Honda HR-V is available with only one engine, the 1.8-liter four-banger. It delivers a decent-for-this-segment 141 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. Shifting duties can be handled by a CVT or a six-speed manual, but if you want the manual you have to stick with front-wheel drive only. All-wheel drive models must have the CVT. With the six-speed manual, the HR-V manages to get 25 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway, and 28 mpg combined. For with the CVT and 2WD, and those numbers increase to 28,34,and 31, respectively. AWD models with the CVT get 27 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway, and 29 mpg combined.

The Buick Encore sits right in the middle as far as engine size goes with a 1.4-liter four-cylinder. It delivers 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. But, if you go with the Sport Touring Trim, that engine is tuned to deliver 153 ponies and 177 pound-feet. The Encore achieves 25 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway in base form with front-wheel drive. Moving up to all-wheel drive gets you just 23 mpg in the city and 30 mph on the highway. The range-topping model with the few extra ponies and pound-feet garners 28 mph in the city and 34 mph on the highway with two-wheel drive or 26 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway with all-wheel drive.

As you can see, the fuel economy ratings and power output are all pretty close across the board, so unless there’s something specific that you plan on doing, none of them are really a bad choice as far as these figures go. For fuel economy, the 1.0-liter EcoSport might be the breadwinner, but we really have to wait until official numbers come out to say with any kind of certainty.

Mazda CX-3 Honda HR-V Buick Encore Ford EcoSport
Engine SKYACTIV 18-G 2.0L DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder with VVT 1.8L In-Line 4-Cylinder Ecotec 1.4L turbocharged DOHC I-4 1.0-liter, EcoBoost, three-cylinder
Horsepower 146 HP 141 HP 138 HP 123 HP
Torque 146 LB-FT 127 LB-FT 148 LB-FT 125 LB-FT
Transmission 6-Speed automatic 6-Speed Manual Hydra-Matic 6T40 6-speed automatic 6-Speed manual
EPA city/hwy/combined 29/35/31 25/33/28 25/33 30/40/34

Note: On the Ford EcoSport numbers are estimated


2018 Ford EcoSport High Resolution Exterior
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Pricing at this point is widely unknown, but with the Escape starting out around $23,600, expect the EcoSport to start out around $19,000 or so and increase to as much as $25,000 for the range-topping model. We’ll obviously update this section as we get closer to the EcoSport’s launch when information becomes readily available.

The Competition

The Mazda CX-3 can be had in three trims. The entry level model starts out around $19,960, while the mid-range model commands $21,960. The range-topping Grand Touring model will hit the bank for $24,990. The Honda HR-V sits at a similar price point with the entry-level LX model calling for $19,365, the EX calling for $21,415, and the range-topping EX-L Navi commanding $25,840. When it comes to the Buick Encore, it’s roughly the same size as the EcoSport, the HR-V, and the CX-3, but is far more luxurious (if you still fancy Buick as a luxury brand) and starts out around the price it will cost you to get a range-topping model from any other brand. The entry-level Encore Group starts out at $25,565. The next level up calls for $27,855 and the mid-range model hits the bank for $28,850. The next level up goes for $29,800 while the range-topping Premium Group goes for $31,285.

As you can see, the Buick is clearly the more expensive of them all, but it’s much more luxurious and has a few extra trim levels at that. If it’s luxury and comfort that you’re going for, the Buick is the way to go, but it will cost you. If you’re looking to spend as little as possible, the EcoSport may float the bill nicely, but if not, the CX-3 or HR-V will end up in your driveway for a fair price.

Mazda CX-3 Sport $19,960
Mazda CX-3 Touring $21,960
Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring $24,990
Honda CR-V LX $23,845
Honda CR-V SE $24,645
Honda CR-V EX $26,095
Honda CR-V EX-L $28,545
Honda CR-V Touring $32,195
Buick Encore $24,990
Buick Encore Convenience $27,280
Buick Encore Sport Touring $28,275
Buick Encore leather Group $29,225
Buick Encore Premium $30,710

Other Options

Chevy Trax

2017 Chevrolet Trax Exterior AutoShow
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As I mentioned earlier, the subcompact segment is as crowded as it gets, and one of the prime contenders we haven’t mentioned thus far will go head to head with the EcoSport. Of course, I’m talking about the Chevy Trax. If you’re impressed by the Buick Encore, but can’t seem to wrap your head around the price of such a small model, then looking to the Chevy Trax might provide you a little relief. Essentially a rebadged Encore, the Trax starts out at just $21,000 and comes with a 1.4-liter engine. It’s not quite as powerful as the Encore, with just 138 ponies and 148 pound-feet of torque but the interior appointments are all there, and it’s a strong proposition for the EcoSport. It manages to achieve 25 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.

Read our full review on the Chevy Trax here.

Subaru Crosstrek

2016 Subaru Crosstrek Special Edition High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
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While it seems a bit like the red-headed stepchild compared to the other models that we’ve discussed here today, the Subaru Crosstrek is actually a competitor in this segment. It features an SUV-like appearance and packs a 2.0-liter Boxer engine that delivers 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque A five-speed manual transmission comes standard on the 2.0i and 2.0i Premium trims, while a CVT can be had as on option on the premium and is standard on the 2.0i Limited. Subaru’s amazing all-wheel drive system comes standard on all models. Those equipped with the five-speed manual can achieve 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, while those equipped with the CVT can manage 26 mpg in the city and 33 mph on the highway.

Read our full review on the Subaru Crosstrek here.


2018 Ford EcoSport High Resolution Exterior
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And here we are at the end. We’ve covered a total of five different models, plus the all-new Ford EcoSport. It is a little surprising that Ford decided to come out with an SUV smaller than the Escape with as crowded as the market it, but I guess Ford couldn’t live without having a piece of that pie too. If you’re in the market for a subcompact SUV, you have some decisions to make as there are, obviously, some pretty great choices. It seems to me as if some of the other models we’ve discussed here may offer better materials and could be more comfortable, but the EcoSport isn’t without its positives either. After all, it can be customized with 10 different exterior colors, and it has ambient lighting, which is a feature normally left for those with a much higher price tag. At the end of the day, it’s best that you sit down and figure out exactly what your needs are as far as fuel economy and space goes, then look at what kind of budget you can put together for a new car purchase. It won’t be an easy decision, but there are enough models in this segment that you’ll surely find something that fits not only your budget but your personality as well.

  • Leave it
    • Entering a very crowded segment
    • May not be quite as nice as some of the competition
    • Why not offer the 2.0-liter EcoBoost with extra power?

Press Release

Ford today introduces the all-new EcoSport for North America for those who want space-saving convenience and SUV capability.

The EcoSport – a fun, capable, connected compact SUV – stars in the world’s first-ever vehicle reveal on Snapchat, kicking off a Hollywood pop-up event open to the public through Wednesday evening.

The interactive event showcases how EcoSport is a perfect companion for those who believe in going small and living big.

“More people are choosing to spend their time and money sharing experiences with friends and family instead of buying more stuff,” said Chantel Lenard, ‎executive director, Ford U.S. marketing. “EcoSport fits perfectly into this growing lifestyle. It’s our smallest SUV, packed with features and personality.”

2018 Ford EcoSport High Resolution Exterior
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Fun sound, color and style
EcoSport’s available premium B&O PLAY audio system brings your music to life. HARMAN acoustic engineers spent hundreds of hours perfecting the in-vehicle music experience.

The Ford-exclusive B&O PLAY audio system, standard on EcoSport Titanium, features 10 speakers, including B&O PLAY-branded tweeters and woofers in the front doors and a subwoofer in back. The 675-watt system unlocks the power of your favorite music and transforms every drive into a “living big” experience.

EcoSport also features available HD Radio technology, SiriusXM® satellite radio and a dual FM radio antenna that boosts the range and clarity of FM signals.

Customers looking to stand apart from the crowd will find plenty of ways to personalize their EcoSport. Along with 10 exterior color choices, there are seven ambient lighting options and four trim level offerings – S, SE, SES and Titanium. All series feature a swing-gate-style tailgate.

The personality-packed SES series makes the biggest splash. It features Intelligent 4WD, sport-tuned suspension and steering, and unique styling cues inside and out – including bold copper accents for the interior and sport seats.

2018 Ford EcoSport High Resolution Exterior
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Connected technology
EcoSport makes it easy to stay in touch with friends and family with SYNC® 3, Ford’s communications and entertainment system. Faster, more intuitive and easier to use, the system provides more conversational voice recognition and enhanced response to driver commands. Optimized for hands-free use, SYNC 3 for EcoSport is coupled with a touch screen similar to a smartphone or tablet. The 8-inch screen gives front-row occupants easy access to operate available Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ commands, and B&O PLAY audio settings.

Drivers also have the ability to start, lock, unlock and locate their vehicle from almost anywhere using available SYNC Connect with FordPass®. The mobile app lets owners view vehicle information, such as the fuel level and odometer reading, when not in the vehicle.

EcoSport features two fast-charging USB ports to ensure owners’ devices are always juiced. Plus, there’s a 12-volt power outlet. An available 110-volt outlet positioned behind the center console and another 12-volt outlet allow rear-seat passengers to stay plugged in, too.

2018 Ford EcoSport High Resolution Exterior
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Capable, powerful and sporty
Equipped with either the award-winning, 1.0-liter three-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost® or 2.0-liter four-cylinder, EcoSport provides power and control. Drivers opting for the 2.0-liter engine get Ford’s Intelligent 4WD standard. Both come with six-speed automatic transmissions.

As many as 30 stowage pockets, bins, hooks make efficient use of every interior inch. A cargo management system at the rear features a movable floor board and fold-away second-row seats to provide a flat area for moving furniture and other larger items.

EcoSport consumer experience in Hollywood
Located at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, the Ford EcoSport Go Small, Live Big experience is open to the public Tuesday and Wednesday from 2 to 10 p.m. Registration and tickets are managed by

2018 Ford EcoSport High Resolution Exterior
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The EcoSport event consumer experiences include:

Small stage, big entertainment: A sound and light environment showcases the EcoSport’s available B&O PLAY audio system, ambient lighting and LED display. Special musical performances include Chromeo (DJ set), Echosmith, Phillip Phillips, Atlas Genius and Chord Overstreet – plus a popular DJ for the big reveal
Small bites, big flavor: Downtown L.A.’s super-trendy Smorgasburg hosts local food vendors. Mama Musubi, Donut Friend, Goa Taco and Amazebowls serve up bite-sized food, while Paloma’s Paletas and Wanderlust Creamery are on hand with food carts
Small footprint, big life: Two tiny homes from 84LUMBER – a cabin and a beach cottage – are on display. Both are less than 200 square feet and inspired by EcoSport’s personality and spirit of adventure. These custom art installations by L.A.-based Onch Movement and “The Most Famous Artist” Matty Mo encourage stylish, simple living. After the event, Ford and 84LUMBER are donating one of the homes in partnership with the Ron Finley Project – a south Los Angeles nonprofit dedicated to promoting healthy communities
Small animals, big joy: Los Angeles Wildlife Learning Center experts teach you about the group’s tiny rescue animals, including owls, chinchillas, foxes, sugar gliders, prairie dogs, bunnies and hedgehogs
Small beach, big oasis: Paying homage to Venice Beach, surf culture comes alive with real sand and Surfset Fitness, surf-inspired exercise equipment and group fitness classes via the world’s first total body surf trainer designed to mimic the instability of a surfboard on water. Nail artist group Cutepolish features the hottest nail art designs, do-it-yourself nail techniques and trendy polish styles

EcoSport visitors also can share their experiences on social media platforms. Collect and share unique Snapchat geo-filters, an all-new Snapchat innovation exclusive to Ford’s EcoSport consumer experience. An overall Snapchat geo-filter allows attendees to post unique Go Small, Live Big content.

The all-new Ford EcoSport starts arriving in dealerships in early 2018.

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