The Ford Kuga has had my attention for years.
The Europe-only crossover was one of the cars that ended up on my list anytime I complained about the cool cars not available in the United States but sold across the pond. In contrast to the clunky and boxy U.S. Ford Escape, the Kuga is sleek and good-looking and has better fuel economy. Why on Earth has it not been available here?
There are lots of reasons, but now, Ford has finally decided that customers on this side of the Atlantic are sophisticated enough for the Kuga. We’ll know it here as the all-new Ford Escape, but it’ll always be a Kuga to me.
In addition to the extreme exterior changes, Ford will also change up the Escape’s powertrain options. The V6 and hybrid versions are officially history, replaced by either an improved version of Ford’s 2.5-liter 4-cylinder (the biggest option), a 2.0-liter Ecoboost turbocharged direct-injection 4-cylinder or a turbocharged direct-injection 1.6-liter engine, which undoubtedly will be the most fuel efficient.
Ford will also include a new 6-speed automatic transmission to go along with all the engine choices. That will help the new Escape tow up to 3,500 pounds and get upwards of 30 mpg, though not at the same time.
Along with exciting, efficient engines and all-new curvy good looks, the Escape will offer some cool features, too. The hands-free liftgate, for instance, will allow owners to walk up to the back of the Escape, shake a foot under the bumper and have the liftgate open. That’s pretty cool, but would be most useful to me after I unload the car and am standing there awkwardly in my garage trying to figure out how to close the hatch.
If nothing else, this feature will reveal how much balance people have while standing on one foot, waving the other and holding a Costco-size box of bologna, cantaloupe and motor oil.