One watchdog group argues that Ford isn't doing enough to make its smallest vehicle for the U.S., the Ecosport, as "eco" as it could be—and that holds true whether the name nods to efficient or economical. 

The Union of Concerned Scientists is trying to light a fire under Ford, calling out its Ecosport for being a little light on that first syllable. The group suggests that the current model's replacement could (and should) be significantly more economical, estimating that a new Ecosport with Ford's latest small-car platform and engine technology could save customers thousands at the pump

Thanks to some aerodynamic and powertrain improvements—of the sort that Ford is giving its other vehicles—the new Ecosport could boast more room for both people and cargo, get as much as 40 mpg on the highway (vs. just 29 for the current model), and even perform better. 

2020 Ford Ecosport

2020 Ford Ecosport

When the Ecosport was introduced to the United States in 2017, it was already old. Its American introduction roughly coincided with its global mid-cycle refresh; the current generation had been for sale in overseas markets since 2013. Going by typical product cadences, that would mean that the Ecosport is due for a redesign sooner rather than later—likely within the next 2-3 years. 

Ford's liberal application of the "Eco" prefix has also been criticized by many in the press, with some even going so far as to label it greenwashing, especially in the context of its turbocharged lineup of "EcoBoost," engines, many of which are only marginally more efficient than the larger, naturally aspirated engines they replaced. 

While the UCS may not be automotive critics per se, one shouldn't be too quick to dismiss its analysis. Much of the criticism leveled against Ford's baby crossover by this group of advocates echoes (sorry) that of the automotive media as a whole. The Ecosport is on the small side for its class, and both its design and efficiency date it in a hyper-competitive and rapidly evolving segment.