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Ford adds attitude to Escape

Black beauty: The Escape range expands to five ongoing models.

Ford’s compact all-wheel drive wagon range is boosted with two new models

17 Jun 2004

FORD has expanded the ZB Escape range with a second four-cylinder model and a butch new bodykit inspired by the recent television ad for the compact soft-roader wagon.

The new full-time member of the range is the XLT 2.3L, which delivers a higher level of standard equipment - naturally at a higher price - than the $31,990 XLS 2.3L launched in January.

Priced at $35,990, the new four-cylinder variant picks up many of the features of the V6 3.0 XLT, including accent colour painted bumpers, bodyside cladding and wheel arches, as well as newly styled 16-inch alloy wheels shod with 215/70 R16 tyres and a power antenna.

Standard equipment inside includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an overhead console containing sunglasses holder and reading lamps. The dashboard has a two-tone finish.

The XLT’s 2.3-litre engine is the same as the XLS and produces 108kW at 6000rpm and 201Nm of torque at 4500rpm. The engine is sourced from Mazda and can also be found in the near identical Tribute. All Escapes come standard with a column-shift four-speed automatic transmission.

The introduction of the XLT 2.3L means the Escape range expands to five ongoing models, offering customers a choice of three specification levels and two drivetrain combinations.

27 center imageMeanwhile, the Bad Boy Pack, which is based on the XLS 2.3L, is meant to capitalise on showroom traffic produced by the ZB launch television commercial which shows a convoy of black Escapes matching pace alongside a line of outlaw bikers.

The trick is the bikes are on tar while the Escapes are on a rough dirt track.

The commercial has triggered a strong response with Ford saying customers are asking for all-black Escapes “like the one in the TV ad”.

The Bad Boy Pack comprises front and rear skid plates, side steps and 16-inch alloy wheels, chrome-look bumper inserts, chrome-look side mirror covers and 'Escape' branded stainless steel scuff plates.

The extra features are valued at more than $3000, by Ford, but are provided at no additional cost over the recommended retail price of a standard Escape XLS 2.3L "The Compact SUV segment is certainly booming at moment," said Escape brand manager Anthony Ficarra.

"Sales in this segment exceeded 75,000 units in 2003, with 80 per cent of those sales coming from four-cylinder models.

"Escape sales are up almost 20 per cent on year-to-date figures compared with last year, and with the local industry heading towards an all-time sales record this trend looks set to continue throughout 2004."

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