A development mule of the next-generation Ford Escape out on an R&D drive? What a surprise!
The last time the Escape received a complete redesign was almost a decade ago — with the debut of the original Escape. The development mule of the next-gen Escape we see here is wearing the body shell of the current-generation Ford Kuga — which could have made a perfect second-generation Escape years ago. The mule gives its R&D origins away by the oddly-fitted tailpipes out back and covered-up air intakes in the front.
With the launch of the next-gen Escape, Ford will merge the Euro-only Kuga with the American-only Escape — creating a single global vehicle out of two crossovers that have traditionally been as different today as salt and pepper. The Escape/Kuga will ride on the Blue Oval’s C1 architecture shared with the Focus and C-MAX, with styling cues taken from the Vertrek concept that Ford showed off at the 2011 North American International Auto Show.
As far as powerplants are concerned, expect an entire range of four-bangers. While the European Escape/Kuga will undoubtedly get Ford’s line of diesel fours, North American drivers will probably see Ford’s ubiquitous 2.5 liter four-cylinder (168 hp, 167 lb.-ft. of torque) standard, with the 1.6 liter EcoBoost turbo-charged four (180 hp 173 lb.-ft. of torque) as the up-level engine. We may also see Ford’s higlhy-acclaimed 2.0 liter EcoBoost turbo as the top-shelf option, cranking out 237 horses and 250 lb.-ft. of twist.
It would also make sense for Ford to continue offering a hybrid variant of the Escape powered by an upgraded system used in today’s hybrid — if not an all-new new system or a plug-in version like that found in the C-Max Energi that was also on display at Detroit.
Hit the source for more photos of the Kuga-covered mule.
Source: Car and Driver