Ford says: “We call our all-new Ford Escape the ‘Smarter Utility Vehicle’ because it offers the strengths that customers today really value – fuel economy, versatility and new technology” – Derrick Kuzak, group VP, global product development.
Spec sheet: New softer-shaped global production crossover that will replace both the current upright US Escape SUV and the radical European Kuga from late 2012.
The new Ford Escape could become a story of poorly managed expectations. The great-looking Vertrek concept at the 2010 Detroit show launched as the declared successor to the rather boxy but spacious US Escape and the rakish but smaller-booted European Kuga in order to come into line with Ford’s new one-car-for-all policy to save local production complexity and distribution costs for laudable economic, and to some extent eco reasons. Many were excited by that concept from a design perspective as only small changes for production were promised. Trouble is, the production unveil of the Escape at the LA show may still be spacious but the design feels too detached from the clear-surfaced dream of the Vertrek. Wheels have shrunk leaving small circles of rubber within big arches, exterior feature lines have become clumsy and less interesting and the roofline inflated and spoiled by rails. Fundamentally the new car has lost the wonderfully planted stance of the show model. New across-the-board fuel-efficient Eco boost engines should offset the gloom as should clever grille shutter technology to better aid airflow round the car. Maybe the design will still translate better out on the road with bigger wheels, but on initial first impressions at least, the new Escape seems like a shadow of the concept that heralded it.
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