Small dog with a big bark, Ford EcoSport debuts with 675-watt B&O Play audio

2018 Ford EcoSport Titanium
Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Tonight the 2018 Ford EcoSport becomes what Ford claims to be the world's first vehicle revealed on Snapchat. The compact SUV joins the automaker's alliterative family of SUVs, filling out the smallest end of the scale.

Some of you may already recognize the little EcoSport. The model has already seen two generations elsewhere in the world; first in Brazil in 2003 and then a global second-gen model in 2012. The EcoSport debuting tonight features a significant facelift both inside and out and new technology highlighted by Sync 3 and B&O Play.

Ford's smallest SUV

In a way, it's no surprise to see Ford, a company known for its big trucks and SUVs, going small by bringing the tiny EcoSport stateside. Compact SUV sales have exploded into a feeding frenzy over the last few years and are continuing to grow. Ford needs to compete at this small scale to remain competitive.

The EcoSport features styling cues that are a blend of the Ford Fiesta and Ford Escape -- which is sort of what the EcoSport is, really. The SUV's footprint very similar to that of the Fiesta hatchback, but its greenhouse is a bit more upright and there's a tad more ground clearance to work with.

Out back is a rear gate that swings horizontally like a door rather than vertically like a hatchback. Room for people and cargo and the general proportions of the EcoSport remind me of the Kia Soul, which will be one of its fiercest competitors. (Can you even consider cars this cute "fierce"?)

Two performance tiers

Under the hood, the EcoSport buyer will find one of two powertrain options.

The first is a turbocharged and direct-injected 1.0L Ecoboost three-cylinder with a front-wheel drive powertrain. Ford hasn't stated output yet but previous incarnations of the cutest little EcoBoost make between 99 and 123 horsepower depending on the market.

Those wanting more capability can choose the 2.0-liter naturally aspirated model with Ford's Intelligent 4WD system, an on-demand all-wheel drive setup similar to the one found on the Escape. Again, power figures haven't been stated, but the 143 horsepower and 137 pound-feet of torque for the global model is a good starting point for guesses.

Both feature six-speed automatic transmissions -- though not the same one -- and four-wheel disc brakes as standard equipment.

Audio by B&O Play

Perhaps the most interesting bit of new tech for the 2018 EcoSport is the optional B&O Play premium audio system, the first fruit of the new partnership between Ford and Bang and Olufsen's portable audio brand. This setup brings 675 watts of amplification and 10-speakers to the party for the Titanium level.

We expected the cabin around that audio system to look a lot like that of the Escape, Focus and Fiesta, but the EcoSport makes a pretty dramatic departure with its large 8-inch floating touchscreen display. It's an imposing piece of hardware jutting out from the little SUV's dashboard; Ford claims that it's the "largest display in the segment."

2018 Ford EcoSport Titanium
Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Powering the infotainment is Ford's Sync 3 software with all of the voice recognition, FordPass app integration and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration that we've come to love from this generation of Ford's dashboard tech.

Just below the dashboard are a pair of fast-charging USB ports for juicing gadgets on the go. There's also an optional 110-volt AC inverter available as an option for those who need to power larger devices.

Ford hasn't made mention of any driver aid features -- optional or standard -- for the 2018 EcoSport, but we'll update with details as they come available.

Available in 2018

The EcoSport will be available in four trim levels: S, SE, SES and the aforementioned Titanium. Titanium is the top-tier model with chrome brightwork and premium amenities.

SES is the "sporty" trim level with dark Magnetic Gray grille and wheel treatments, tinted headlamps, black roof rails with crossbars and unique copper accents on the seats and dashboard. The more powerful 2.0-liter engine, all-wheel drive system and sport-tuned suspension and steering should add a bit of extra performance to match the SES' sported-up looks.

The all-new Ford EcoSport starts arriving in dealerships in early 2018, which is quite a way off. We expect it'll be some time before pricing is finalized.

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