The Kuga will be receiving the requisite swath of updates as Ford readies it for the rigours of competition in 2017. This, of course, will include some new additions but many carry-overs as well. One attribute that will not be following the SUV into the new year is the ‘Kuga’ name itself.
Instead, Ford will be streamlining the nameplate to suit its other markets, and so will be renaming it as the Escape starting next year with a new starting price of $28,490. In nearly all other respects, however, this can be considered a facelift.
The Kuga name will be retired at the end of 2016 in markets such as Australia, South East Asia and pretty much everywhere else except North America where the Kuga name was never used to replace the Escape in the first place.
Ford Australia is touting the updated and renamed SUV’s restyled fascia, added connectivity and safety technology, and improved fuel economy over its predecessor.
“The Escape will follow the formula set by the Ford Kuga as a family friendly, fuel-efficient and five-star safety rated SUV,” said Ford Australia President and CEO, Graeme Whickman. “We’ve responded to calls for a broader line-up, with the front-wheel drive Trend giving consumers an even more compelling SUV offering, and with sharpened MLPs across the range.”
The new Escape will be making its Down Under debut in January 2017 following a four-year gap in which Ford originally swapped that name for the now-familiar Kuga. Part of the reason for the streamlining effort has to do with the later arrival of the Edge to replace the Territory, conforming to the naming structure of all Ford SUV’s beginning with an ‘E’ - Ecosport, Escape, Edge, Everest.
A notable change from this year’s Kuga offering is the addition of the front-driven Escape Trend trim grade which starts from $32,990. Ford is hoping that this will occupy the proverbial sweet spot, resonating with customers by way of the most amount of features at the most reasonable of prices.
That aside, the new Escape keeps the Kuga’s trim tiers intact, kicking off the range with the base front-wheel drive Ambiente but comes to buyers a price reduced by $760 powered by a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine with 110kW.
Other grades of the Escape will be powered either by the same 1.5-litre EcoBoost mill, but tuned to deliver 134kW and mated to a six-speed automatic, 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel that outputs 132kW and 400Nm, or a 2.0-litre turbocharged EcoBoost petrol in the range-topping Titanium spec, producing 178kW/345Nm.
The new Escape will be fitted with an updated suite of driver assistance technology and active safety features. These include adaptive cruise control, torque vectoring, rear cross traffic alert, and autonomous emergency braking. In addition, an 8-inch SYNC3 touchscreen infotainment unit now comes as standard, as does dual-zone climate control, daytime running lights, rear seat air vents, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, and keyless entry with Ford MyKey support.
Stepping up to the mid-level trend gains a set of 18-inch wheels, rain-sensing automatic wipers, automatic headlamps, and silver finish roof rails, among other things. In the top-spec Titanium, however, a set of 19-inch alloys are on offer along with full leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated front seats, panoramic glass roof, premium 9-speaker audio system, powered tailgate, and bi-Xenon front illumination.
New Ford Escape Ambiente
- 1.5L FWD 6-speed manual MLP $28,490
- 1.5L FWD 6-speed automatic MLP $29,990
- 1.5L AWD 6-speed automatic MLP $32,990
New Ford Escape Trend
- 1.5L EcoBoost FWD 6-speed automatic MLP $32,990
- 2.0L EcoBoost AWD 6-speed automatic MLP $35,990
- 2.0L TDCi AWD 6-speed automatic MLP $38,490
New Ford Escape Titanium
- 2.0L EcoBoost AWD 6-speed automatic MLP $44,990
- 2.0L TDCi AWD 6-speed automatic MLP $47,490