Ford has unveiled its latest compact 4×4 at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Called Escape, it will be the company’s first ‘global’ SUV, meaning it will be sold in Britain as the Kuga.
The European version is due to be announced at the Geneva Motor Show in March, and will be broadly similar. However, the engine line-up and options packages will differ.
The Escape follows in the footsteps of the Vertrek, the concept revealed earlier this year at the Detroit Motor Show, which showcased what the new Kuga could look like for 2012.
Ecoboost engines and intelligent 4WD
The Escape has been designed with fuel economy in mind, and Ford has fitted it with both 1.6- and 2.0-litre versions of its EcoBoost engine – currently found in the Focus. These are likely to make it to the European version, but it is unlikely that we will get the larger 2.5-litre petrol option that is available in the States. Instead, expect a range of diesel engines, which are more suited to the UK market.
Fuel economy is projected to improve by 5mpg over the old model thanks to this new range of fuel-efficient engines. Active grille shutters close the vents at high speeds, reducing wind resistance on the move.
The Escape features an intelligent four-wheel-drive system, which uses sensors to measure road conditions, steering angle and throttle position to assess where the driver intends to go. The system can reduce drive to any given wheel to maintain traction in difficult driving conditions.
Coupled with Curve Control, which automatically slows the car if you’re cornering too fast, and Torque Vectoring Control, which applies drive to the wheel with most grip, the Escape should deliver a safe and dynamic driving experience.
Lots of new tech for Escape
Ford is referring to the Escape as the smarter utility vehicle and as such, has introduced options that, until recently, were the preserve of executive German saloons.
Firstly, there is the hands-free, motion-sensing tailgate. Using technology similar to video game motion sensors, the system recognises when the driver is behind the car. Provided you have the key on you, the rear hatch can be opened by simply placing a foot under the rear bumper.
Active Park Assist aids with parallel parking. Using the on-board camera, it scans for a suitable parking space. Once one is chosen, the system will park the car itself, with no driver involvement, other than the ability to slow or speed up the process via the accelerator and brake pedals.
More conventional gadgets include a blind spot warning system, which triggers an audible notification when a vehicle drives into the Escape’s blind spot, and SYNC with MyFord Touch. This new multimedia and vehicle menu system is controlled by voice or by buttons on the steering wheel.
The previous Kuga was well received in the UK and popular with owners in the Which? Car Survey. With the new model now a global car, it remains to be seen how the latest Kuga will perform on British roads.
Ford Vertrek first look – check out our coming soon report for the Kuga concept
Ford Kuga review – read our full test report for the current Ford Kuga
Car options – find out the car features that are worth opting for to improve resale values