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Ford’s new global Escape SUV takes shape

Message in a bottle: Ford has previewed its all-new Escape with an image showing the silhouette of the production vehicle, which remains faithful to the Vertrek concept pictured here.

Design, engine and other details emerge for Ford’s all-new Escape ahead of LA debut

Ford logo27 Oct 2011

FORD will unveil the production version of its new-generation Escape compact SUV at the Los Angeles auto show on November 16, previewing the all-important – and, for the first time, global – new model with a silhouetted image that confirms it remains faithful to the Vertrek concept.

Shown in an image demonstrating how carpeting in the new Escape will be made from recycled plastic bottles, the production model’s silhouette has the same sleek profile with short front and rear overhangs and arched roofline as the Vertrek, which was revealed at the Detroit auto show in January after being sculpted in Europe by a team including Australian designer Dennis Sartorello.

The design confirmation is one of a series of details Ford has released over the past month about the reborn Escape, which is built off the same C-segment small-car platform as the new-generation Focus and will launch in Australia, the US, Europe (as the Kuga) and other markets during 2012.

The Blue Oval has also confirmed that the long-overdue successor for the GF-series Mazda 626-based Escape will be offered in the US with three four-cylinder petrol engine options, namely 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre EcoBoost engines and a 2.5-litre Ti-VCT unit with twin independent variable camshaft timing.

The Australian line-up is still to be confirmed ahead of the new model’s launch here late next year, but the 2.0 EcoBoost – as applied to the Range Rover Evoque, in which it produces 177kW/340Nm, and which will also feature in the Australian-built Ford Falcon from early next year – is the main contender, with the 1.6 a possible inclusion at the entry level.

Ford claims that the two EcoBoost variants, both of which feature turbocharging, direct injection and Ti-VCT, deliver class-leading fuel economy and performance.

27 center imageSpecific details are still to be divulged, but Ford routinely claims that EcoBoost increases fuel economy by up to 20 per cent while reducing CO2 emissions up to 15 per cent.

The company also says the 1.6-litre engine – which is already available on the Focus and related C-Max people-mover in Europe and was fitted to the Vertrek concept, complete with fuel-saving idle-stop and regenerative braking technologies – will deliver even better highway fuel economy than the current US Escape Hybrid, which is US EPA-rated at 31mpg (7.6L/100km).

“Expanding the availability of EcoBoost technology in the all-new Ford Escape will give customers a great range of choices for the fuel efficiency and performance they want in a small SUV,” said Ford Motor Co vice-president of powertrain engineering, Joe Bakaj.

“This advanced technology in the new Escape delivers on our commitment to provide class-leading fuel efficiency in every new Ford product.”

As GoAuto has reported, an upgraded 2.0-litre Duratorq TDCi turbo-diesel engine to be used in Europe should also be available here, delivering a claimed seven per cent reduction in CO2 emissions over the current unit, while six-speed automatic and manual transmissions will be offered across the range.

Buried within a recent press release on new exterior colours, Ford has also revealed that the new Escape will be shown in LA in ‘Ginger Ale’ paintwork, which is described as a “classic gold neutral with slight green undertones” and so named “for its energy and refreshing qualities”.

Escape chief designer Kemal Curic told GoAuto at the Vertrek’s unveiling in Detroit that 80 per cent of the concept vehicle’s design would carry through to production.

“Eighty per cent of this car you’ll see in the production vehicle,” he said. “Escape and Kuga will be combined on one platform. In North America and Australia it will be called Escape in Europe it will be called Kuga.”

Longer and wider but lower than the outgoing Escape, the Vertrek’s “sleek, modern design”, as Ford describes it, still manages a generous cargo volume, with 828 litres available behind the back row or 1879 litres when the rear seats are folded.

This is up to a 20 per cent improvement over the current Kuga, and on par with the boxier Escape sold in North America.

Passenger space also increases compared to the current Kuga, while technology takes a leap forward with systems such as ‘active park assist’, a blind-spot information system (with ‘cross-traffic alert’) and ‘intelligent access’ with push-button start.

Using recycled bottles for carpeting is a first for Ford, and the company says that 25 20-ounce (591ml) plastic bottles are used in the carpeting of each vehicle.

US supplier Autoneum produces the carpet, which, according to Ford, has the potential to divert four million bottles a year from landfill, based on current Escape sales of around 180,000 per annum.

“It’s a good use of recycled product and keeps it out of landfills,” said Ford materials engineer Laura Sinclair.

“The polyester fibres created from pop bottles make up a nonwoven carpet material. So think of it like when you make spaghetti – everything is intermixed. If you have more fibres running on each other – rather than what’s underneath, which can be more abrasive – that helps reduce wear.”

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