*This post was created from a sponsored media trip to Newfoundland with Ford Canada. But as always, the experiences, thoughts and opinions are completely my own.
Can you believe I’ve travelled all around the world – to every continent – yet I’ve never been further east in Canada than Brandon, Manitoba?
Nope – not even Toronto.
I’ve flown through Canada’s hub city dozens of times. I’ve never had a long enough layover to warrant a trip to downtown TO.
But this past May, Ford Canada helped me out with my goal and I went all the way east to St. John’s, Newfoundland.
It wasn’t just my first time on the coast. Ford Canada invited my mom along to join me as well – and she’s never been to Newfoundland either. (If you’ve followed along on my adventures for a while, you notice her pop up on several of my trips. She’s my best friend and we try to get away together whenever we can!)
It was perfectly timed in fact, because it also happened to be the 2018 Ford Ecosport’s first time in North America! Although they’ve marketed the Ecosport in dozens of countries around the world, the Canadian auto market is finally ready – and excited – about a smaller sized SUV crossover.
And I admit, I was curious and excited, too!
I rock a 22-year-old car but I’ve been on the hunt for an update. My lifestyle is active and on-the-go but budget-minded. I also usually end up living out of my vehicle when I’m adventuring. The car gets to be tight quarters when I’m trying to tether my phone to my laptop balanced on the centre console in the front seat for a work call. It’s difficult sometimes when I’m swapping from high heels and a pencil skirt to hiking shoes and yoga pants in the backseat (yep – those are all real things I’ve done as recent as last week.)
So how would a new Ecosport fit into my lifestyle?
I couldn’t wait to test drive it around Newfoundland.
Test Driving the 2018 Ford Canada EcoSport
Media trips are busy, intense and full-on amazing.
The team at Ford Canada had planned an epic day checking out the top sites in and around St. John’s. We started bright and early – as in 3:30 am early!
When visiting St. John’s, it’s (unofficially) mandatory to drive out to Cape Spear for a bit of marine history as well as to be one of the first people on the continent to watch the sunrise.
*I need to note here that my mom is a full-on trooper. Only a few days before the trip, she tore her ACL and was on crutches the entire time we were on the east coast.
Although she couldn’t walk down to the viewing point with me, it was pretty special to be there with her and share one of the first sunrises in Canada then snap photos together in front of the Cape Spear lighthouse.
Initial Ecosport Vehicle Review:
Ripping down to Cape Spear in the Ecosport for the first time felt pretty natural – it was a nice fit. Mid-size SUV’s can feel big, but the Ecosport felt like I was cruising in a vehicle I had driven for years. For the tech nerds or passionate environmentalists: It even features auto start-stop technology which reduces emissions and is more fuel efficient when waiting at red lights.
Highlight: I particularly appreciated the tight turning radius of the Ecosport. I’m forever making U-turns to spontaneously stop for photos and check-out interesting sites, so maneuverability matters.
From Cape Spear, mom and I cruised around St. John’s colourful streets in the early morning light. We hopped back to the hotel for breakfast and a briefing. Then we headed to the Irish Loop Oceanside Chalet in Bauline East for a bit of storytelling, local treats and spectacular views of Seal Cove.
The chalets were all self-contained with access to picnic areas and fire pits. It was the perfect setting for me to envision what it would be like taking the Ecosport on a camping adventure loaded up with all my gear.
I tossed some of my bags in the back including the Birch Beer and Pineapple Crush soft drinks I picked up to-go from the chalet. I had never heard of either Crush flavors before as you can only get them in Newfoundland. (Birch Beer is similar to a Cream Soda)
Although on a tight schedule, I took a moment and tried to picture exactly how I would feel unloading the Ecosport at a campsite.
Outdoor Lifestyle Ecosport Review:
The roof will comfortably hold a canoe or kayak. The back of the Ecosport will fit my bike perfectly. The rear door is a swing-gate and opens to the side which surprised me – but not in a bad way, it’s just a different. I can fold the rear seats down either completely flat or split for my cross-country skis and snowboard. And best of all, there’s a cargo shelf so I can tuck my laptop away for safe keeping or use a cargo net for the rest of my gear.
Highlight: The Ecosport has a cold weather package. Yes, I put that in italics because this is actually ridiculously awesome for Saskatchewanians in winter. The seats are heated, the steering wheel is heated, the side-view mirrors are heated, there are floor liners and best of all is a heated windshield wiper de-icer.
From the Chalet to the ocean, Mom and I cruised out to O’Brien’s Whale and Bird Tours. This company came highly recommended by everyone who commented on sites-to-see on my social media channels. I had high expectations and the company far exceeded what I expected. The captain joked around with my mom and I, and even let my mom ‘captain’ the boat.
Mom and I tried to spot puffins a few days earlier on the coast but had no luck. We were quite delighted when we captured photos of both puffins and a pair of thick-billed murres. It’s quite special to see a pair together like this.
We didn’t see whales as it was early in the season, but Mom and I had been lucky a few days earlier. We spotted a humpback in the bay in front of our B&B in Dildo (yes, there really is a town called Dildo in Newfoundland).
The rest of the afternoon was spent at the Petty Harbour Mini (catch-and-release) Aquarium for a private tour and Quidi Vidi Village for some more locally catered snacks and a bit of shopping before a night out getting screeched in and eating even more food.
Travel Blogger Lifestyle Ecosport Review:
The most important aspect of a vehicle from my perspective as a travel and adventure writer is how it connects me to the world. Firstly (and most important for me) is how I can charge all my tech gear. There were two quick-charging USB ports for my cell phone and camera or GoPro right on the main infotainment centre. There was a 12-volt outlet in the back with the option of a 110-volt outlet. I can keep my laptop charged or sit in the back and work while it stays charged.
Secondly, the 8-inch touchscreen and navigation system felt like my cell phone. It swiped, it zoomed and it did everything I need it to do – quickly.
Most Surprising Moment In Newfoundland
My favourite part about travel is how it never ceases to surprise and teach me. No matter how much I learn – there is still so much I have never heard about.
I didn’t realize how unique Newfoundland and Labrador’s food is in comparison to my Prairie culture.
I was continuously delighted and amazed at the differences. And although I’m not a food blogger, I need to take a second to appreciate everything we sampled!
Ford Canada did an incredible job connecting us with some of the best restaurants, chefs, and bakers to taste all the special treats Newfoundland & Labrador is known for.
Cue cod tongue, bacon wrapped scallops, mussels, lobster done multiple ways, mini rabbit pies, moose meatballs, cod-stuffed-touton, touton with molasses, partridgeberry anything-and-everything, chicken fried capelin, spotted dick cake, pineapple Crush, fishcakes, Birch Beer Crush, Iceberg Beer, date squares, stuffed pork, figgy duff – and honestly, this isn’t even all of it!
You bet I ate anything and everything that came my way that was a local dish!
Overall, I loved the fit of the Ecosport for two people out casually adventuring (any more and it might be a tight squeeze in terms of gear – unless you have a roof rack for it all.)
But it was easy to toss my mom’s crutches in the backseat. She commented the passenger seat was spacious and she had no worries about bumping her knee or feeling crowded.
The Ecosport is a zippy little SUV. It seems ideal for a younger couple on a modest budget interested in weekend getaways or an older couple who want to downsize their kid-toting SUV.
Although the Ecosport is competitively priced for a big outdoor adventurer like myself, I think my heart may actually be set on purchasing something a little larger for my next vehicle, just like the Ford Edge…
A big Thank-You to both Ford Canada and Takt Communications for flying me out to experience a wonderful first time on the east coast of Canada!