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The 2019 Ford EcoSport SUV gets a surprising amount of power and great fuel consumption from its 1.0-litre 3-cylinder engine, thanks to its turbo.

Peter BaileyIf you’re looking for a practical vehicle that has plenty of storage capacity, ample seating for four and is cheap on gas, the four-door Ford EcoSport may be the vehicle.

There are four 2018 models offered: the S base, the SE, the SES and the Titanium, which I test-drove.

The EcoSport also comes in front-wheel drive and the two-litre version features “intelligent” four-wheel drive, which lets the computer choose when to use four-wheel drive. That comes in handy when Canadian road conditions threaten with black ice or heavy snow.

Built in India, Thailand, Russia and Romania, the most surprising aspect of the EcoSport is the performance it wrings out of its turbo-charged 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine. It puts out 123 horsepower and 125 pound foot of torque. I could notice no difference between it and, say, a 2.0-litre four-banger when driving in the city or on the highway. The EcoSport also offers a 2.0-litre direct-injection four-cylinder powerplant. Both engines are teamed with a six-speed auto transmission. The four-cylinder is rated at 166 horsepower and 149 pound foot of torque.

Fuel consumption is 8.6 litres/100 km in city driving and 8.4 on the highway.

The 1.0-litre engine can tow 635 kg. The 2.0-litre engine can pull 907 kg. And the larger engine configuration adds roughly 150 kg to the vehicle’s weight.

The EcoSport also features Auto Start-Stop, which switches off the engine when you’re waiting at a red light or are in stop-and-go traffic. It effortlessly starts up again when you want to get moving, a feature I love in my Toyota Prius C.

The EcoSport seats four to five adults in relative comfort with adequate head room. The rear seats fold down and are split 60/40. The interior, while not luxurious, is perfectly fine for the type of driving and cargo carrying its drivers want to do.

The rear hatch of the 2019 Ford EcoSport SUV is actually a door that swings open to the left, allowing easy storage of groceries, luggage or sports equipment.

The instrument panel is clean and simple, if a little old-fashioned, with easy-to-read gauges on the dash. The ubiquitous view screen beside it is easy to operate and scan.

The SE model has a sunroof, as well as fog lights and reverse sensors.

The sound system by Bang & Olufsen features 10 speakers and 675 watts of power. The SiriusXM radio also features an all-Beatles channel, which I left on all week.

On the side mirrors, a blind spot system warns drivers of cars they can’t yet see beside them, a great convenience and a smart safety feature.

The GPS system provides voice-guided direction finding, another handy feature.

One more pleasant surprise came when I went to open the back hatch. I fumbled for the handle until I realized it’s actually a fifth door that opens to the left. I found it an easy access when loading groceries or cargo. But it may make it difficult to unload your stuff if you back into your parking space.

On the highway and in the city, the EcoSport was a pleasure to drive. The interior is quiet and covering long distances was comfortable. I constantly found myself marvelling at the performance of such a tiny engine.

Getting in and out is much easier than some of the sportier models I’ve driven lately and that’s a great asset for older drivers whose joints are starting to creak.

SUVs are overtaking sedans in popularity and carmakers are dropping their older standard models. The EcoSport is on the smaller side of SUVs now on offer.

Critics have found the exterior design and the performance, particularly on the 1.0-litre engine, uninspiring. None of that bothered me. I’m interested in getting from point A to point B and I don’t need to break the speed limit to get there. So I found the EcoSport to be an okay performer.

But I’m not often driving three passengers and cargo around and I seldom need to get anywhere in a hurry, so I understand when reviewers wax eloquently about performance and handling characteristics in other models.

I prize practicality and usefulness over speed, performance and design.

The EcoSport’s cargo space is 20.9 cubic feet (592 cubic litres) behind the second row of seats.

The S model starts at $21,099. The SE at $24,099. The SES begins at $28,399. The Titanium model I drove was priced starting at $28,499. As tested, it cost $31,299.

In the highly-competitive SUV market, you can find a wide variety of options and features and the search can be bewildering. But it’s possible to find the model that best serves your needs. Take your time and make an informed decision.

If you’re looking for something modest, practical and economical, take a look at the Ford EcoSport.

Peter Bailey is an award-winning newspaper editor and writer with more than 40 years of experience. He specializes in automotive and travel writing, and lives in Hamilton, Ont.

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