Ford’s strong-selling Escape (Kuga in Europe) is an interesting kettle of fish. It’s an honest compact SUV with competent handling and strong powertrains. The interior isn’t its strongest suit as the styling looks like it was penned by a schizophrenic and rear passenger space is a bit narrow.
Overall, it’s showing its age, but fortunately Ford are ripping up the template and stating with a clean sheet – or is that two clean sheets? Let’s explore further.
A More Focus-ed Design
Now styling is subjective; on first impressions, many may find the Escape’s soft, rounded new looks a bit of a surprise. It’s almost the polar opposite of the more rugged Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester, which begs the question, why?
The answer lays with Ford’s upcoming and similarly sized ‘Baby Bronco’ (rumored to be called Puma). The Puma/Bronco Jr targets those seeking a tough-looking SUV, whilst the Escape wants to appeal more to the blue oval’s displaced passenger car buyers. It’s a twin-prong strategy that will attempt to cater to all tastes.
A Closer Look
Dominating the front is a trapezoidal grille similar to that found on the latest Focus (the one North America isn’t getting). It’s flanked by horizontally positioned fog lamps beneath large LED headlamps. Interestingly, the lower intake also has hints of Ford Edge and GT Supercar in its execution.
Side profile surfacing is characterized by lower door scallops and a rounded shoulder line, eschewing hard creases often found on many other cars. Rear-styling features twin exhausts (no fake tips here), RAV4-esque LED taillights and recessed vertical cutouts for the reflector lenses.
The current Escape lags behind the competition in interior styling and packaging. Luckily, its fussy cabin will be binned in favor of a much cleaner layout with nicer materials. A tablet-style infotainment system running Sync3 sits high on the upper dash area, whilst Ford’s Co-Pilot 360, active park assist and B&O audio will headline some of the tech goodies on offer.
Another criticism that will be addressed is the cramped interior, as rear seat occupants in particular will enjoy additional leg and shoulder room. There’s even conjecture around a (longer?) 7-seat variant being offered in future – watch this space.
Starting out the range will be a turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine. Higher specification variants will utilize a revised 2.0-litre turbo four and a plug-in hybrid version. European and Asia-Pacific markets will also have access to an EcoBlue diesel in varying outputs.
Power will be fed to the tarmac via a nine-speed automatic with rotary-style shifter, in either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive configurations.
Launch Timing & Alternatives
We expect the all-new Escape to debut later this year as MY2020 offering, with the New York Auto Show in April being a prime candidate for its reveal.
What’s your view on the new Escape – have Ford made it too soft? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo Renderings Copyright Carscoops / Josh Byrnes