Ford didn’t invent the wildly popular compact-utility-vehicle segment, but the original Escape went on to become the long-time segment sales leader in Canada.
But times and market demand change, and other automakers have inserted smaller utility vehicles to fill in new gaps in their model ranges. Honda has the HR-V nestled in below the CR-V, and Nissan has slotted the new Qashqai between the larger Rogue and the Sentra subcompact-sedan line.
Yet, the Ford Escape has no understudy. The current generation is in its fifth model year, and despite a freshening for 2017, it’s losing ground to a growing band of fresher competitors.
It’s not as if there wasn’t already a suitable product in its global portfolio: The EcoSport was launched in Brazil in 2003. The second-generation EcoSport launched in early 2014 and spread to other markets including Europe.
Ford finally announced last November that it will introduce the EcoSport in Canada and the United States, but it’s not exactly rushing the Fiesta-based compact utility to market as the projected on-sale date is January 2018. By then, the basic design will be four years old, though of course it will have been freshened and adapted for the North American market.
Asked at the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto in February why Ford waited so long to bring the EcoSport to Canada, Gonzalo Contrera, Ford Canada marketing manager for SUVs, said: “That’s when we can get it.”