Overnight, Ford unveiled the next-generation version of their Escape, a nameplate that many will already be familiar with. Curiously, it did this in conjunction with the reveal of its alternatively-styled European-spec half-brother, now called the Kuga.
Both the Escape and the Kuga are five-seat SUVs built on the Focus platform, but the former is the only model we have to be concerned with as, in a somewhat odd turn, Australian showrooms will be graced by the American-oriented product which does look much better in this writer’s opinion.
“We’re proud to bring the first of our global electrified vehicles to Australian customers in the stylish and capable all-new Escape,” said Ford Australia and New Zealand President and CEO, Kay Hart. “Australians continue to embrace SUVs, which is why we are introducing our first plug-in hybrid powertrain with this vehicle.”
The local range will comprise of several plug-in hybrid variants too, drastically increasing the exposure to Ford’s electrification tech given that it will no doubt be one of the company’s biggest volume sellers other than the Ranger ute, where it will be greeted upon its 2020 arrival by the incoming Subaru XV Hybrid and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
It’s not clear yet how the spectrum will be split between electrified variants and those powered by conventional combustion (EcoBoost) engines. However, ones that do incorporate plug-in hybrid powertrains will mate a 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle naturally aspirated petrol engine with an electric motor for 165kW of combined power and over 50km of zero emissions range in fully electric mode.
Ford has yet to detail what kind of fast charging protocol the Escape PHEV will support, though we can’t imagine it not being included, nor have they specified charge times for its 14.4kWh lithium ion battery. Nevertheless, the soft-roader’s performance and fuel efficiency numbers should be markedly higher than its predecessor.
The Escape’s styling has definitely moved a tad more upmarket, mimicking the Focus on which it’s loosely based with subtle curves and a more slender aerodynamic profile. Up front, the swept back headlight cluster and trapezoidal grille could take some getting used to but the rear fascia is quite fetching indeed.
“Escape customers have expressed that they are ready for even more emotional design, and our all-new Escape is a sculpture skilfully articulated. Visually sleeker, lower and wider – it makes you feel excited just by looking at it,” said Amko Leenarts, director, Design, Ford of Europe. “The all-new interior is a sanctuary space, designed to allow everyday life to happen. Harmonious and airy, it fuses premium materials, precise craftsmanship and state-of-the-art technology.”
Pictured here is the US-spec Escape in higher Titanium trim, replete with 17-inch (or 18-inch) alloys, panoramic glass sunroof, and a properly posh interior that mixes leather upholstery with wood trim inlay. The increased wheelbase by 20mm over the previous generation Escape along with a higher overall length and width mean the incoming model offers a considerably roomier cabin than before too.