The all-new Ford Escape (Kuga in Europe) will gain an off-road-oriented derivative. Just don’t think of it as a jacked-up model with plastic cladding, though, as that’s not the case here.
Ford Executive VP of Product Development and Purchasing, Hau Thai-Tang, told TheDetroitBureau that the Blue Oval is working on an “off-road version of its popular sport-utility vehicle” with a boxier design featuring more upright A pillars and increased ground clearance.
“We want to have really differentiated (with the new model, so the Escape’s) silhouette is very sleek, dynamic – more progressive. The off-road utility will be more upright, boxy”, said Thai-Tang.
Sounds familiar? That’s because, while it was not mentioned in the article, it sounds like he was referring to the vehicle known as the ‘Baby Bronco’, a rugged compact SUV, believed to be based on the same platform as the new Escape.
The Ford official stated that the as-of-yet unnamed SUV will be introduced about six months after the new Escape. Production of the latter will kick off in the coming months at Louisville, in Kentucky, and will arrive at dealers in the beginning of autumn.
Given the common nuts and bolts of both products, it’s probable that the off-road variant will share its engines with the new Escape. The 1.5-liter three-pot EcoBoost, rated at 180 hp, and the 2.0-liter unit that delivers 250 hp are believed to be potential candidates. Later on, hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains could join the lineup.