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Ford swaps Kuga name for Escape

Great escape: The facelifted Escape features a new front-end design that brings it into line with other Ford SUV models, including the Edge and the Everest.

Escape moniker resurrected for Ford’s updated mid-size SUV

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Ford logo17 Oct 2016

By TIM NICHOLSON

FORD Australia has dropped the Kuga moniker for its mid-size SUV contender in favour of the more globally accepted Escape nameplate as part of the high-rider’ s mid-life update.

With the Australian market model switching to the Escape name, the United Kingdom will be the only market to retain the Kuga moniker.

Arriving in Australia in January next year, the heavily revised Escape introduces a sharper exterior design, restyled interior, lower pricing on all but one variant and a new front-wheel-drive version of the mid-range Trend.

The Escape name returns to Ford’s Australian line-up after a four-year break when the company sold a United States market-focused model of the same name, based on the Mazda Tribute, between 2001 and 2012.

The name change means that by the time the Edge arrives to fill a gap in the line-up left by the now discontinued Australian-built Territory, the name of every Ford SUV will start with an ‘E’.

Ford Australia product communications manager Damion Smy told GoAuto that the change from Kuga to Escape “follows the global naming strategy” and the helps to unify the Blue Oval’s SUV line-up.

“Because of our appetite for SUVs in Australia, it links all of our SUVs together through that,” he said. “We have more than doubled our number of SUVs since 2012 and this is part of our SUV strategy in terms of offering more choices as the market is fragmenting.

“Obviously with SUVs making up more than one in three sales now, we are continuously revising our line-up and our strategies and the Escape name gives us a link to the locally developed, award-winning Everest and links it to the family of SUVs.” The big change in the line-up is the addition of the FWD Escape Trend auto that will be priced from $32,990 plus on-road costs and, according to Mr Smy, should become the sweet spot of the range given the success of similar offerings from competitors in the segment.

“With the introduction of the front-wheel-drive Trend, if you look at competitors, it makes up a massive chunk of their sales. As the market is changing and fragmenting, we have addressed that. And we have introduced this model which we think will make it a substantially stronger offering. It should play a lot better because of that model being in the line-up.” Like the Kuga before it, the Escape range kicks off in FWD Ambiente guise with a six-speed manual – the only manual in the range – but the price has dropped by $760 to $28,490 plus costs. This variant is the only Escape to be powered by a 110kW/240Nm version of the 1.5-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost petrol engine.

The six-speed automatic version of the FWD Ambiente adds $1500 to the equation and costs $29,990, a $760 drop over the equivalent Kuga, and is powered by a 134kW/240Nm version of the 1.5-litre petrol unit.

An all-wheel drive Ambiente uses the same petrol engine and is priced $260 cheaper than before at $32,990.

The new FWD Trend also takes its power from the 134kW 1.5-litre four-pot that delivers an official combined fuel figure of 7.2 litres per 100km (7.5L for Ambiente AWD).

A 2.0-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost turbo-petrol engine powers the AWD Trend, pumping out 178kW/345Nm and a fuel consumption figure of 8.6L/100km. The pricetag for this is $35,990, or $900 less than the Kuga-badged version.

The Trend is also offered with Ford’s 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine delivering 132kW/400Nm and a 5.5L/100km fuel use figure and is priced from $38,490 – $400 cheaper than before.

Top-spec Titanium is offered with the 2.0-litre petrol from $44,990 – $200 less than before – and the 2.0-litre diesel, which at $47,490 is the only variant to increase its price, by $300.

As previously reported, the Escape now comes standard with Ford’s latest Sync3 infotainment system that includes a full-colour touchscreen, faster performance, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and sat-nav.

Ford says the addition of fuel saving idle-stop on variants from Trend up has helped save 0.2L/100km on 2.0-litre petrol Escapes.

New safety gear available on some Escape variants includes the Active City Stop collision avoidance system that now operates at speeds up to 50km/h – up from 30km/h – as well as the Adaptive Front Lighting System on variants fitted with bi-Xenon headlights.

Driver assistance technology including a cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with a collision warning and brake support, a driver alert system, torque vectoring control and a ‘park-out assist’ system for exiting a parallel car space are also available in the Escape.

Standard gear in the Ambiente includes the 8.0-inch Sync3 touchscreen dual-zone climate control with rear air vents, a reversing camera with rear parking sensors, DAB+ digital radio, six-speaker audio with USB input and Bluetooth, cruise control with a speed limiter, daytime running lights, keyless start, front and rear foglights, electronic parking brake, Sync Emergency Assist and Ford’s MyKey.

Trend versions add 18-inch alloy wheels, silver finish roof rails, privacy glass, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rearview mirror, auto headlights, follow-me home lighting and a leather-wrapped gear lever.

The Titanium gains 19-inch alloy wheels, keylesss entry, power folding mirrors, bi-Xenon headlights with auto-levelling function, LED DRLs, leather upholstery, heated front seats, 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat, front parking sensors, Active Park Assist, panoramic glass roof, front and rear velour mats, hands-free power tailgate, ambient lighting, LED tail-lights and a nine-speaker audio.

Ford ripped the covers off the facelifted Escape in US-market guise at the Los Angeles motor show back in November last year, while the European version was uncovered at the Geneva show in March this year.

The new-look Escape gains styling changes that bring it into line with other Ford SUV products, including the Everest and Edge, while the interior has also been improved with more high-end materials and easier to use controls.

More additions include a new five-seat version of the Everest large SUV next year, more special edition versions of all models, including the EcoSport Shadow pack, as well as the launch in 2018 of the Canadian-sourced Edge that will replace the Territory.

Ford has shifted 3370 Kugas so far this year, which is a 2.5 per cent dip over the same period last year.

Mr Smy said that sales were on the up to the end of July, by 6.7 per cent, but have since dipped following the announcement of the replacement model in August.

Kuga sales are well behind segment leaders including the Mazda CX-5 (19,090), Toyota RAV4 (14,936), Hyundai Tucson (14,969) and Nissan X-Trail (13,453).

2017 Ford Escape pricing*
Ambiente 1.5L FWD $28,490
Ambiente 1.5L FWD (a) $29,990
Ambiente 1.5L AWD (a) $32,990
Trend 1.5L EcoBoost FWD (a) $32,990
Trend 2.0L EcoBoost AWD (a) $35,990
Trend 2.0L Diesel AWD (a) $38,490
Titanium 2.0L EcoBoost AWD (a) $44,990
Titanium 2.0L Diesel (a) $47,490
*Excludes on-road costs

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