As part of the ongoing, and slow-moving, saga of being rear-ended, I’ve now finally delivered our Honda CRV to the car repair place and I’m waiting for it to be fixed. In the meantime the insurance company has provided me with a rental car, and while the insurance company has been terrible at getting anything done the car rental place was great. They were fast, friendly, and while I said all I really needed was something small and basic that would get me from one place to another they said they’d signed out all their small and basic models so they were giving me a free upgrade: a Ford EcoSport. And after a couple of weeks of driving this thing around, getting used to how it handles, I’m pleased to say I hate it.
Every time I get in it I’m reminded that Ford is the same company that gave us the Edsel, a gas-guzzling monstrosity that was so terrible it almost sank the company that first gave the world mass-produced automobiles. The one good thing about the Edsel is they asked the Pulitzer-prize winning poet Marianne Moore for name suggestions. One of many terrible things about the Edsel is they rejected every one of her suggestions which included the Thunder Crester, the Mongoose Civique, Pastelogram, and, most famously, in her last letter she wrote, “May I submit UTOPIAN TURTLETOP?”
That was her last suggestion and I think, in addition to being very funny and more than a little eccentric, she knew a lemon when she saw one—and she was only working from sketches.
Some of my favorite aspects of the EcoSport include:
The engine shuts off every time it comes to a stop. I think this is meant to be ecologically friendly. I have no idea how. At least it starts up pretty quickly once I take my foot off the brake but I’m sure drivers around me are wondering why I’m restarting the car.
It’s really hard to adjust or move the seats. There are at least three different levers on the passenger-side seat and none of them move the seat forward or backward. Also there is absolutely zero legroom for anyone sitting in the back seats. I’m a short person. When I have friends in the backseat of the Honda they’ll say, “Hey, I’ve got plenty of legroom, you can move the seat back.” And I say, “Not if I want to reach the pedals.” Once I’ve adjusted the driver’s seat in the EcoSport, which is comparable in size to the Honda CRV, there’s about two inches between the backseat and the back of the driver’s seat.
The key is basically a screwdriver. It folds down into the fob and you can press a button to make it pop out again. Like a switchblade. The ignition in the Honda CRV has a nice ring light so you can find it in the dark. I have to turn on the overhead lights in the EcoSport to find the ignition.
The rear windshield wiper comes on at random. I assume there’s a switch but the right-hand stalk that controls the windshield wipers is covered with buttons. Presumably one of these turns off the read windshield wiper. I have yet to figure out which one it it.
The headlights detect dark and come on automatically. And go off automatically about a minute after the car is turned off. Which is nice because the headlight button is weirdly placed.
The back storage space in the back is ridiculously small, which is surprising given how little space the backseats take up. The designers must be very special magicians: they make what appears to be a mid-sized vehicle on the outside a Mini Cooper on the inside. Also the switch to open the rear hatch is so cleverly hidden it’s impossible to find if you don’t know where it is. I was just about to recite “Speak friend and enter” in Elvish when I decided instead to look it up online and as soon as I typed in “Ford EcoSport” Google autofilled “how do I open the back?”
Finally, based on the dull gray color but, more importantly, just how it moves, I’m tempted to write to Ford and say, “May I suggest you rename the EcoSport ‘The Slug’?” I wouldn’t be surprised if it even runs on lettuce.
The people at the rental place really were nice and said, “If you have any trouble with this car at all please feel free to return it in exchange for something else.” I think that was their way of subtly admitting they were giving me the worst vehicle on the lot. But I’m keeping it. For one thing I love an adventure and every time I drive this car it’s an adventure in discovering something new and terrible about it. For another they said I have to return it with a full gas tank and I haven’t figured out how to do that yet.