I suppose we are all guilty of overlooking Ford sometimes. After all, this is our pre-eminent car retailer which regularly tops the sales charts but we are often drawn more to the novel than the familiar.
Try counting Fords next time you're out and you'll be amazed how many you see, which must mean the blue oval brand ticks a lot of the right boxes for many motorists.
So Ford - familiar as it may be - isn't top dog for nothing. It makes some of the best cars on the road in terms of value for money and all-round ability.
The brand may have lacked confidence a few years ago and its models tended to be dated and dull, but there is a new spring in the step as the EcoSport illustrates.
Think of Ford and the standard Fiesta and Mondeo spring strongly to mind but the company is far more than standard hatchbacks and saloons these days. EcoSport is a compact SUV, and it is a success. From £21,645, it means it is competitively priced in a busy part of the market.
Everyone is turning out compact SUVs these days, especially in the budget end of the market where this model competes. Fancy a plusher Ford SUV? Then try the bigger, flashier Puma and Kuga.
But the EcoSport was, for me, something of a surprise. I didn't expect to like it. After all, it's a Ford designed to appeal to everyone which meant I expected it to be a little bland. I also didn't reckon much to a Fiesta-based SUV. Fiesta is fabulous as a hatch but I couldn't see it cutting it as an SUV.
I'm happy to admit I was wrong. It is a nimble car with spirit. It looks good and it has a terrific little 1.0 litre engine. There is plenty of cabin space and a decent boot.
OK, I admit I struggled to open the damned thing to start with. It looked to me like a tailgate hinged at the top, but it's actually a van-style side-hinged affair. And the release button is disguised in the rear light cluster.
All I can say is thank goodness for Google. There are no end of YouTube video clips of people explaining to bemused owners how to open the back door.
Tested here is a new Active variant of EcoSport which is said to offer customers "more rugged styling and enhanced versatility".
It is part of a growing range of Active series models from Ford tailored to increasing demand for vehicles that support outdoor adventures and active lifestyles.
And it is part of a simplified series strategy launches offering Ford customers more standard equipment, simplified option packs and greater distinction between model series.
It has a number of unique exterior and interior styling alongside increased ride height and additional body protection for greater rough road capability.
EcoSport Active is said to help adventure-loving customers get the most from their active lifestyles.
“Customers tell us they love how EcoSport’s bold styling, practical interior and versatility fits into their busy lives, so we’re excited to enhance the SUV with an Active version that delivers even more of those qualities,” said Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing, Sales & Service. Ford of Europe.
“The EcoSport Active will be a new addition to the Active series that offers extra capability and rugged style for customers who want to take their outdoor adventures to the next level.”
Models are available in a choice of three main series; ST-Line for buyers seeking sporty style inspired by Ford Performance, Titanium for those wanting luxury and high-level comfort, and Active for customers seeking maximum versatility and adventure.
For select models including Fiesta and Focus, higher specification X series and Vignale variants will also be available.
Convenient equipment packs will group the most commonly-chosen options together – increasing value for money and making it easier for customers to get the right equipment to suit their needs. Customers can still choose from a range of individual options to create the perfect Ford for them.
“We design our vehicles to be smart, rewarding and easy to use and our customers deserve a purchase process that’s just the same. Our new customer journey will make choosing the right Ford for you simpler and faster, and will offer better value,” de Waard said.
Standard kit is impressive enough with alloy wheels, air conditioning, cruise control, powered windows, satellite navigation and a decent stereo as standard.
The warranty - three years and 60,000 miles - might seem stingy compared to some rivals. The boot (356 litres rising to 1,238 litres) is impressive.
Fancy something electric? Than the Mustang Mach E might be your thing. Great car, not cheap and not really a Mustang, but it has a fabulous range and will be a success. But for the real world, the EcoSport is a much more sensible option.
Meanwhile Ford has introduced two limited-edition models building on the style and capability of the company’s award-winning pick-up - the new Ranger Stormtrak and Ranger Wolftrak.
Ranger Stormtrak offers distinctive styling and premium features for customers that value outstanding capability and a generous specification to support their active work and lifestyle needs. Ranger Wolftrak is an intrepid, rugged pick-up designed around the needs of customers who work outdoors and desire commanding off-road performance without compromising comfort and desirability.
“Customers love the bold style and tough capability of our Ranger pick-up, so we’ve developed the new Stormtrak and Wolftrak limited edition models to offer even more of both,” said Hans Schep, general manager, Commercial Vehicles, Ford of Europe. “Stormtrak combines striking looks with added luxury touches and features for active lifestyles, while Wolftrak’s rugged off-road performance helps it comfortably take owners far off the beaten track for work and fun.”
Ranger Stormtrak and Wolftrak limited editions will arrive in dealerships from October.
Ford EcoSport Active 1.0
Engine: A 998cc three cylinder petrol engine
Performance: Top speed 112mph and 0 to 60mph in 11 seconds
Transmission: Six-speed manual via front wheel drive
Costs: 47.1mpg average
Insurance: Group 11E
Warranty: Three years, unlimited miles