About decade ago, a subcompact SUV would hardly have registered on the radar of American consumers, perhaps other than as some sort of novelty. But now it's a growing part of our obsession with all things crossover. Let's see how two new rivals compare by putting the 2018 Ford EcoSport up against the Hyundai Kona.
Crossovers aren't bought for practicality since there are sedans with more interior space that cost less. How they look is seriously important. The EcoSport and Kona are both very striking vehicles, each in its own way. Because of its very compact proportions based on the Fiesta platform, the EcoSport actually looks taller than it is, especially in front. It's certainly more rounded and not nearly as aggressive or sporty as other Ford SUVs such as the Escape and Edge.
The Kona is going to be a love or hate model due to its styling. Depending on your point of view, it could be either striking and modern or over-styled and confused, so we'll call the opening round a draw.
The standard engine in the Ford is the globally award-winning 1.0-liter EcoSport three-cylinder that's also found in the larger Focus. If its 123 horsepower isn't enough for you, there's also the option of a 2.0-liter inline four delivering 166 horsepower, the only one available with all-wheel drive. Both of the Kona engines are more powerful than their equivalents in the heavier Ford, so this round has to go to the Hyundai.
Passenger and Cargo Space
Since the Kona is longer and wider than the Ford, there's going to be more room inside for passengers, right? Well, unless you're talking about head room then no. Even though there's more passenger volume in the Hyundai, there's more leg room for both front and second-row passengers in the EcoSport. And what's perhaps even more surprising after learning about the leg room is there's also more cargo space inside the Ford.
Trims and Options
Both the Hyundai and the Ford are available in four different trim levels. With the EcoSport we have the S, SE, SES and the top of the line Titanium, and with the Kona we have the SE, SEL, Limited and the ambitiously-named Ultimate. There's not much between these two in terms of standard equipment as both boast impressive standard features. However, the EcoSport gets extra marks for buyers not needing a college diploma to understand the options packages.
It's not that the Kona's packages are complicated, because they're not. But working out what Kona you can have with which packages is complicated since some packages are not available with certain exterior colors. Not certain trim levels, but certain exterior colors! For that reason alone we have to give the win to the Ford.
If you can get past the questionable exterior styling, the Hyundai Kona is a likeable and welcome entry into this increasingly popular segment. But the 2018 EcoSport is the latest evidence that shows Ford knows exactly what it's doing in the subcompact crossover category and why it's our winner here.