Bubbly American-ish: 2018 Ford EcoSport vs 2018 Chevrolet Trax [Review]

Who built a better subcompact: Blue Oval or Bow Tie?

Consumers shouldn’t take comparing the wee-little 2018 Ford EcoSport and Chevrolet Trax lightly.

Both vehicles have the juice to be serious competitors in the red-hot subcompact crossover market. Chevrolet sold nearly 80,000 examples of the Chevrolet Trax in North America last year. Despite being fresh to the market, The Ford EcoSport shifted over 8,000 units in North America just in June 2018.

To put that in to prospective: in North America, the Jeep Renegade and Honda HR-V both sold well over 100,000 vehicles in 2017 – each. Other competitors’ growing sales numbers from the Mazda CX-3, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Fiat 550X and Mini Countryman (among others) points to consumers’ growing enthusiasm for the segment.

Same concept, different results

On paper, the 2018 Ford EcoSport vs 2018 Chevrolet Trax are well matched. They both have small displacement engines, six-speed transmissions and available all-wheel drive. They both have similar dimensions, their pricing is fairly comparable. Ford and Chevrolet aimed these cars squarely at millennials. Still, despite their similarities, they have completely different personalities.

Side-by-side, the 2018 Ford EcoSport vs 2018 Chevrolet Trax drive differently. They feel different to drive and deal with a lack of horsepower in different ways, especially at high elevation.

The $27,330 2018 Ford EcoSport Titanium we tested had a 166 horsepower 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 149 lbs-feet of torque. Our tester weighed an estimated 3,300 lbs and it came fully loaded. A 123 horsepower, one-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine is available in the base FWD model.

Our tester, the $28,345 2018 Chevrolet Trax LT Redline Edition came with a 138 horsepower turbocharged 1.4-liter engine that makes 148 lb-ft of torque. Our tester weighed an estimated 3,200 lbs and it came loaded with an additional “Redline” cosmetic (paint and wheel) package which added $1,350 to the as-tested price.

Taking a different approach

One of the biggest differences between the two is the tailgate on both vehicles. The Chevrolet Trax has a conventional uplifting tailgate while the Ford EcoSport uses a side-hinge rear gate that opens like a conventional door. While the Ford’s setup its a snap to use and aids in accessing the back of the roof, the Chevy’s is more utilitarian overall.

Side by side, despite their similar numbers, they perform differently. The Chevrolet Trax is much faster and feels a bit sportier around the corners. Its tiny turbocharged engine spins up quickly and its overall power delivery is quite good. The Trax almost sporty compared to the EcoSport. With that being said, the ride is a bit choppy. The interior quality and ergonomics are worse than they are in the EcoSport, as well.

While the 166 horsepower engine the EcoSport uses puts out more power on paper, it is a bit lethargic when pushed and it does not like high elevation driving. Simply put, the Chevy is faster; however, the ride and handling of the Ford EcoSport feel more sophisticated.

While neither vehicle can be considered best-in-class, they both bring unique qualities to our market. Speaking of our market, the Chevrolet Trax is built in Mexico and the Ford EcoSport is built in India. While they may be assembled in other places, they fit into our driving culture quite well. Either for millennials, college kids or young families, both being their own personality to consumers.

… and that’s a good thing for ‘Merica. Too see how the new Ford EcoSport manages up Gold Mine Hill, check out the video below.