Ford is one of the last automakers to introduce a subcompact SUV into the United States, but it still pulled off a first.
The 2018 EcoSport is the first car imported to the United States from India, one of several locations where the globally popular model has been built for the past few years. That means Ford can sell it here for a starting price of $20,990 and presumably turn a profit. Not something the smallest vehicles often provide automakers.
In fact, there seems to be so much wiggle room that Ford is launching the EcoSport with a $2,750 lease incentive on its tiny hood that runs through April 2. When you’re behind in the game, you’ve got to make a big play.
That’s particularly true in the competitive subcompact SUV segment, which is jam-packed with strong entries like the Honda HR-V, Chevy Trax and best-selling Kia Soul.
The EcoSport was thoroughly reengineered for U.S. duty and looks a lot like a shrunken head version of a Ford Escape. It’s pretty tiny, even among its diminutive peers, and solidly aimed at the single and empty-nester scenes. There’s plenty of room in the front seats, which provides a high perch, but you’ll need to get friendly with the dashboard if anyone is going to fit behind them.
The trunk is more impressive, and there’s a wide bumper in front of it that you can use as seat for tailgating. The tailgate itself swings open like a door instead of lifting up, which is an artifact from the overseas model that has a full-size spare attached to it. U.S. versions get a much lamer fix-a-flat kit instead.
Unfortunately, the hydraulically-assisted tailgate doesn’t have any stops for it like a passenger door does and it opens itself all the way if you let go of it. This means you need to give it a wide berth when parallel parking, so you’ll have to pass on the impossibly small spaces if you’re carrying any cargo that needs to be unloaded.
The EcoSport comes standard with front-wheel-drive and a 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine that it shares with the Focus. An all-wheel-drive model with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is also available for $27,735.
A three-cylinder engine may sound odd, but this one runs smoothly. Its 123 hp is adequate, but hardly stirring, while a 29 mpg highway rating is the same as what the 166 hp four-cylinder delivers. Both engines get tow ratings, believe it or not, which are 1,400 and 2,000 pounds, respectively.
I found the steering to be a little vague and rubbery for a modern car, but it didn’t take too long for me to acclimate to it. The suspension is also elastic, but in a better way.
The ride is cushy and the EcoSport laughs at potholes. You can probably thank its emerging market roots for this characteristic. It’s surefooted on the highway, however, and exceptionally quiet for a vehicle in this size and price range.
Ford does its cheap cars well, and digging around under the carpets and in the door jambs of the EcoSport doesn’t reveal any sketchy build quality, which can’t be said of every low-priced foreign car. That said, it doesn’t have crash test ratings yet and it only went on sale in January, so it’ll be a while before anyone can get a fix on its reliability.
All EcoSports get a standard backup camera, while high end models add rear parking sensors and a blind spot monitoring system. They also offer the latest version of Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system, so you don’t get shortchanged on tech. The kids have gotta be connected these days, after all.
It has a Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and also Alexa integration that I didn’t get to try because the iOS version was in the middle of an update when I had the vehicle. (It was completed the next week, of course.) Among other skills, you can use it to remotely start and unlock the EcoSport, which can also be done via the FordPass app.
Aside from that ─ and the whole country of origin thing ─ the EcoSport doesn’t really break any new ground. It just fills a hole in Ford’s showrooms that keeps getting bigger as consumers continue to shift from small cars to small SUVs. It should keep plenty of them from going to the next dealership down the block, and if things work out, turn them into loyal customers that will buy a bigger, more expensive Ford the next time they come around.
2018 Ford EcoSport
Base price: $20,990
Type: 5-passenger, 4-door front-wheel-drive SUV
Engine: 1.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Power: 123 hp, 125 lb-ft torque
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
MPG: 27 city/29 hwy
Hillary Clinton: ‘fun to watch FOX when it’s someone else being blitzed’
Jason Decrow / AP
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is interviewed during a gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Dec. 4, 2013, in New York.
Step aside, Jon Stewart. There’s a new political satirist in town.
Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and a potential Democratic presidential candidate, took an apparent shot at Fox News during the Super Bowl on Sunday.
It’s so much more fun to watch FOX when it’s someone else being blitzed & sacked! #SuperBowl
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 3, 2014
The tweet, which had been retweeted more than 30,000 times by the start of the game’s fourth quarter, was apparently a reference to the cable news channel’s coverage, which has been highly critical of Democrats and the September 2012 terror attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Clinton has come under fire for the State Department response to the attack.
The Fox broadcast network — which aired the Super Bowl — and the Fox News Channel are both owned by the Fox Entertainment Group subsidiary of 21st Century Fox, a division of News Corp.
Racial discrimination in teen years could mean health problems later
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Racial discrimination isn’t just a civil rights issue — it can also affect teenagers’ health, a new study suggests.
Adolescents who experienced frequent racial discrimination without emotional support from parents and peers had higher levels of blood pressure, a higher body mass index, and higher levels of stress-related hormones at age 20, placing them at greater risk for chronic disease as they get older.
While other studies have looked at perceived racial discrimination and health among adults, this study, published Monday in the journal Child Development, is the first of its type to track the effects in youth. The good news: Teens who did receive emotional support didn’t show the biological effects of racial discrimination.
Researchers wanted to look at the relationship between racial discrimination and what scientists call allostatic load, basically the “wear and tear” on the body over time caused by frequent and repeated stressors. Frequent activation of the body’s stress response causes a cascade of problems including high blood pressure, cardiac disease, stroke and increases in the body’s inflammatory response. The researchers also wanted to determine whether parental and peer support would help mediate that stress, leading to potentially better health outcomes.
The study involved 331 African Americans, all of whom lived in the rural South, who were asked to rate the frequency of perceived discrimination at ages 16, 17 and 18. These discriminatory events included racially based slurs and insults, disrespectful treatment from community members, physical threats, and false accusations from business employees or law enforcement officials.
When the adolescents turned 18, the youths were asked to assess their peer emotional support during these years. Caregivers, too, were surveyed regarding the emotional support they provided, with questions including “If my child talks to me I have suggestions about how to handle problems,” and “If my child needs help with school or work, she/he can ask me about it.”
Blood pressure, body mass and stress-related hormones were assessed when youths turned 20. The researchers controlled for variables including low economic status, depression, or unhealthy behaviors such as drug use, for example, all of which can affect health.
Although many African Americans, as well as other minorities, experience discrimination as a stressor, only a small percentage show increases in the biological havoc that stress can cause.
“People ask why is that, and one reason we’ve shown is that it’s due to emotional support, which is important at all times in life, but especially during adolescence,’ says lead investigator Gene Brody, Regents Professor and Director of the Center for Family Research at University of Georgia. “These kinds of relationships can be a protective barrier from stress-changing biology.”
In recent years, racial discrimination as a stressor affecting biology has been the subject of numerous studies, mostly involving adults, says David Williams, a professor of public health at the Harvard School of Public Health. Other research has shown that racial discrimination and resulting health problems are a global phenomenon.
“It is not just an African-American problem, it is a universal problem, affecting the health of disadvantaged populations across the world,” adds Williams, the developer of “The Everyday Discrimination Scale,” which is widely used to assess perceived discrimination. “When a person’s sense of human dignity is violated, there are physiological consequences.”
Although the study does have some limitations since researchers still must determine the mechanism by which parental or peer involvement actually worked in reducing the stress response, it challenges researchers to explain “the how” of their findings, says Megan Gunnar, Regents Professor and Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota.
“While we are working out the how this comes about in the body, this study provides us with rich targets for increasing resilience in youth and, as if we needed them, more arguments for working to reduce racism and discrimination in our society.”
For caregivers the message is simple. “Just sitting with them, gauging how they are doing is not race specific, it is important across all races, and can have a powerful effect in buffering the effects of discrimination,” says Brody.
Child, 4, dies after being pulled from Norwegian Cruise pool
Richard Drew / AP
People pause to look at the Norwegian Breakaway on the Hudson River in New York in May 2013. A 4-year-old child died after being pulled unresponsive from a swimming pool on the Norwegian Breakaway on Feb. 3, 2014.
A 4-year-old child died after being pulled unresponsive from a swimming pool on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship off the coast of North Carolina on Monday, cruise line and Coast Guard officials said.
Crew members were able to revive a 6-year-old boy also found in the pool. He was airlifted to a hospital, where his condition was unknown.
The two children were found in the morning on the Norwegian Breakaway, the cruise line said in an announcement on its Facebook page. The statement did not give the ages of the children, but Coast Guard Petty Officer Adam SanSoucie said they were 4 and 6.
An emergency medical team on the ship gave both children CPR, but the younger child died, the cruise line’s statement said. The older child, a boy, was airlifted with his grandmother and a nurse to a hospital, the company said. It did not identify the gender of the younger child.
SanSoucie said the boy was taken by Marine rescue helicopter to Carteret General Hospital in Morehead City, N.C. The boy was then transferred to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. A spokeswoman there didn’t immediately return a phone call Tuesday.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the family during this extremely difficult time and are providing full assistance and support,” the cruise line said in its Facebook statement. “The family is in our thoughts and prayers and we ask that you please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as well.”
The 4,000-passenger ship was bound for Florida. The Norwegian Cruise Line website describes the Norwegian Breakaway as the “newest and largest ship embarking from NYC” to winter destinations including the southern Caribbean, Bahamas and Florida.
— The Associated Press
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