We spent most of our time belted into modded Mustangs and tuned-up EcoBoost performers, so suffice it to say we are a bit power mad. When we are off the clock, though, we like to take a vacation like anyone else. Sometimes hitting the road gives us a chance to sample the latest Fords. On a recent trek to Chicagoland, we were able to sample the 2018 EcoSport in and around the Windy City.

“Look mate, it’s no GT500, but seriously good bang for your buck, this EcoSport!” Ford’s SUV Communications Manager, Dan Jones, kidded. He was recently in charge of getting the word out on Mustangs, so he knows our predilections all too well.

While it doesn’t provide the neck-snapping acceleration we often crave, the 2018 EcoSport‘s 166-horsepower/149-lb-ft 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine does provide reasonable off-the-line acceleration and fuel-sipping economy at 29 MPG on the highway and 23 MPG in the city.

However, for navigating a busy city like Chicago for some sightseeing and commuting out to the ’burbs for a multi-day music festival, the EcoSport proved an ideal companion. The compact people mover had just enough room for two big suitcases in the back, and its big dash-mounted display made navigating, via Apple CarPlay, a breeze.

Its compact size proved a godsend on the tight city streets and crowded parking lots, so it was well suited for the big city. As we headed out of town, it exhibited surprisingly responsive steering and reasonably taut suspension as we accelerated up an onramp.

As Ford’s smallest SUV, the EcoSport isn’t huge inside, but it has plenty of room for you and your gear on a weekend getaway. The scalloped interior panel on the rear door is a clever touch that helped us carry two large suitcases in back without putting the seats down. (Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company)

However, the acceleration wasn’t quite up to our horsepower-hungry standards, the little 2.0-liter engine provided some familiar EcoBoost down low, but quickly ran out of oomph as the RPM rose. This meant passing required a bit more advance planning than our typical rides, but we weren’t really expecting the same muscle as a Gen 3 Coyote.

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Ultimately, the EcoSport proved a willing commuter and likely a nice, entry-level ride for a first-time buyer looking to get out in the world and bring a little gear or a small family along.

With Ford transitioning to mostly SUVs and trucks in North America, it’s clear that vehicles like the EcoSport are the way forward. We will just keep our fingers crossed for more performance variants. (Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company)

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

The EcoSport definitely packs a lot of value in a small package with an entry price of $19,995 and the loaded Titanium, like the one we sampled, starting out at just $25,880. That leaves you some cash to spend on fun, including a faster weekend car…

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