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New models - Ford - Escape

Escape in Limited expansion

Added extras: The Escape Limited includes leather trim, a sunroof and side airbags.

Ford grows its medium off-roader range with a new luxury model

Ford logo24 May 2002

FORD has added a luxury version of its Escape five-seat wagon to take the medium off-roader range to three.

Called the Limited, it tops the XLT and entry level XLS with standard leather trim, tinted sunroof and dual side airbags.

The Limited retails for $42,890, the XLT for $39,090 and the XLS for $35,090.

All three are powered by the same 150kW, 3.0-litre V6 engine mated to a four-speed column shift automatic gearbox and on-demand four-wheel drive.

The Escape Limited is the latest luxury off-roader announced, with Nissan recently adding an up-spec X-Trail and Suzuki a limited edition XL-7 with leather and sunroof.

The addition of the Limited also means the Escape now matches its non-identical sibling, the Mazda Tribute, for V6 models.

The three Fords also undercut the Mazda range on price, although the Tribute alone offers an even cheaper 2.0-litre, four-cylinder version.

The Tribute has consistently outsold the Escape since both models were launched last year. According to VFACTS, in the first third of 2002, 2331 Tributes were sold compared to 1417 Escapes.

But Ford Australia general manager marketing Shaun Swift says the new model will not add significantly to Escape sales.

"We felt there was an opportunity with people looking for a little bit more," Mr Swift said.

"This has always been something we could do if we want to, but it won't add a huge amount (of sales), it's like any top-end vehicle, as you go up in price that narrows it down."Mr Swift said there was no plan to soon add a four-cylinder Escape: "If you look at the VFACTS data that's there, the number of four-cylinder sales is not a huge part of the industry ... (but) the option is there for us".

The Escape Limited's medium parchment leather trim includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The factory-fitted sunroof includes a tilt and slide function as well as a sunshade blind. Sunroof controls and a sunglass holder are located in an overhead console at the front of the vehicle.

The side airbags are seat-mounted and operate independently of the dual front airbags.

Other equipment is carried over from the XLT including cruise control, alloy wheels, six-stack CD player and anti-lock braking.

* Meanwhile, Toyota has announced a limited edition run of the Prado off-roader called the Advantage, as it starts the run-out process in preparation for the arrival of a new generation wagon early in 2003.

It is based on the Prado GXL 3.4-litre V6 petrol and 3.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel, with the choice of manual and automatic transmission.

Added to the package are alloy wheels, air-conditioning, hard spare wheel cover and a chrome pack, which consists of outside door handles, exterior mirrors and a radiator grille with vertical bars.

Inside there's Moquette seat material, driver's two-way height adjustment and a centre armrest on the second row seat.

Toyota is charging $1000 extra over the GXL for the Advantage:Prado Advantage V6 manual - $48,420
Prado Advantage V6 auto - $50,950
Prado Advantage turbo-diesel manual - $49,920
Prado Advantage turbo-diesel auto - $52,450

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