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L.A. Auto Show 2016: Ford EcoSport

L.A. Auto Show 2016: Ford EcoSport
Ford EcoSport subcompact crossover (Ford Motor)
What is it?

A subcompact crossover packed with technology. Or maybe it's a high-tech playroom that happens to move people around. Ford's putting the focus on features more than the vehicle itself. It's aimed at people "choosing to spend their time and money sharing experiences with friends and family instead of buying more stuff," Ford said. It "keeps you connected with family and friends when on the move."

Why it matters

Until now, Ford's been a non-player in the hot market for subcompact crossovers. Now it hopes to leap ahead by appealing to young customers who are more interested in smartphones than engine specs. Ford is "kind of late to the party," said Karl Brauer, analyst at Kelley Blue Book. "But there's still plenty of juice left in the market. If [the EcoSport] is well executed they'll get attention and sales."

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What’s new

Two USB ports. A 12-volt power outlet. Up to 30 stowage pockets, bins and hooks. Ford's Sync 3 information system with voice recognition. Seven ambient lighting options for the cabin. An 8-inch "floating" touch screen that you don't quite have to touch with your finger. An extra-sensitive FM antenna. An 675-watt B&O sound system for the highest-end model.

EcoSport interior features an eight-inch touchscreen.
EcoSport interior features an eight-inch touchscreen. (Ford Motor)
The competition

It's a crowded field, but potential buyers are likely to look at the Honda HR-V and the Mazda CX-3. Both are packed with dashboard technology, though not as packed at the EcoSport (only 1 USB port!). All are more traditional looking than the boxy Kia Soul and the curvy Nissan Juke.

The details

Almost as an afterthought, Ford notes that two engines will be offered, a 1.0-liter three-cylinder and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with four-wheel drive, in four trim levels, all with six-speed automatic transmissions. The EcoSport hits dealerships  early in 2018.

Twitter: @russ1mitchell

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