Crossovers are all the rage, and entry-level ones are becoming one of the single hottest contests in this silly industry. Ford is not (yet) playing in it. Honda has the HR-V, Mazdahas the CX-3, Hyundai has the Tucson, and Jeep has the Renegade. Ford has the EcoSport, a Fiesta-based vehicle it doesn’t sell in the US.
But for the second time since December, we’re seeing the compact ‘ute camouflaged and patrolling the roads of Ford’s home turf. This car strips away some of the camo from the last EcoSport we saw, removing coverings from the headlight and showing off its familial two-bar grille. In fact, the front-end looks a lot like the new Escape.
And that’s the important thing about this car. The last one we saw mounted its grille far lower on the fascia, like the EcoSports sold in South America – the gaping maw, if you will. The car we’re seeing here moves its grille higher up on the face, tying it in with the headlights and making for a new front bumper.
It’s this big change, along with our exclusive report on Ford’s coming crossover onslaught from the Chicago Auto Show, that are the biggest indicators that the EcoSport could come to the US market. But will that happen? That’s the $64,000 question. We can see two potential approaches for Dearborn:
First, we’re looking at the US-spec EcoSport, coming soon to a dealer near you. This option works because Ford gets in the game before the subcompact crossover market becomes overloaded with entries. The downside is that it’d be doing so with a vehicle that’s in the middle of its life cycle, and that could alienate buyers looking for the latest and greatest.
The other option is that Ford holds off on a US-market EcoSport – the car you see would be a facelift for foreign markets – until it updates the Fiesta, and then builds a new, third-generation vehicle specifically designed to compete in the United States. This would mean delaying the Blue Oval’s entry into the subcompact CUV segment until later this decade, but it would also guarantee when the new car does arrive, it’d be facing down competitors that are as old or older than the current EcoSport is now.
So, which way does Ford go? We don’t know, but we’re guessing there are many minds in Dearborn occupied with just such a question. Feel free to let them know what you think in the Comments.