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All-New Ford Kuga 2020 Revealed…here in 2020 as Ford Escape

The all-new Ford Kuga (or Ford Escape as we call it) has been revealed boasting a range of powertrains from hybrid, to plug-in hybrid, diesel and petrol.

The all-new Ford Kuga will arrive in Australia in 2020 known as the Ford Escape has been revealed overnight boasting design cues from the new Focus.

Speaking about the new Ford Kuga / Escape, Ford Australia and New Zealand President and CEO, Kay Hart, said: “We’re proud to bring the first of our global electrified vehicles to Australian customers in the stylish and capable all-new Escape. Australians continue to embrace SUVs, which is why we are introducing our first plug-in hybrid powertrain with this vehicle.”

The Kuga (Escape) is being called Ford’s “most electrified vehicle ever” and offers a range of variants, including Kuga Titanium, Kuga ST‑Line and Kuga Vignale which offers several hybrid powertrains. The line-up consists of Kuga Plug-In Hybrid, Kuga EcoBlue Hybrid (mild-hybrid) and Kuga Hybrid (full-hybrid) which sit alongside Ford’s 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel, 1.5‑litre EcoBlue diesel and 1.5‑litre EcoBoost petrol engines all mated to the same new eight-speed automatic transmission fitted to the Focus.

On European models there’s the FordPass Connect on-board modem for improved on-the-road connectivity of multiple devices (up to 10), wireless phone charging, and Ford’s SYNC3 infotainment system on an 8.0-inch touchscreen. And the analogue instrument cluster has been replaced by a 12.4-inch digital display.

“New Stop & Go, Speed Sign Recognition and Lane-Centring technologies help drivers negotiate stop-start and highway traffic with greater confidence than ever before, while predictive curve light and sign-based light help drivers see more clearly in the dark. Head-up display technology helps drivers to keep their eyes on the road ahead, and Active Park Assist 2 enables fully automated parking manoeuvres at the push of a button,” Ford said.

The new Kuga / Escape is the first Ford to be offered with plug-in hybrid, mild-hybrid and full-hybrid powertrains. And here’s how they’ll work.

all-new Ford Kuga

Kuga / Escape Plug-In Hybrid: Available from launch, the all-new Kuga Plug-In Hybrid mates a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle petrol engine, electric motor and generator, and 14.4kWh lithium-ion battery to produce a combined 165kW. This offers a driving range of up to 50km, with fuel consumption expected to be around 1.2L/100km and 29g/km CO2 emissions.

The battery can be charged using a front fender-mounted charging port, and is automatically replenished on the move using regenerative charging technology that “captures kinetic energy normally lost during braking”. It is anticipated that to fully charge the battery from an external 230-volt electricity supply will take around four hours.

Drivers can choose when and how to deploy battery power using EV Auto, EV Now, EV Later and EV Charge modes. When the battery reaches its lowest state-of-charge, the Kuga automatically reverts to EV Auto mode – supplementing petrol engine power with electric motor assistance using recaptured energy for optimised fuel-efficiency. 

Kuga  / Escape EcoBlue Hybrid: The Kuga / Escape EcoBlue Hybrid uses Ford’s 110kW 2.0‑litre EcoBlue diesel engine and adds mild-hybrid technology which is a belt-driven integrated starter/generator (BISG) that replaces the standard alternator, enabling recovery and storage of energy during vehicle decelerations, and charging a 48-volt lithium-ion air-cooled battery pack. “The BISG also acts as a motor, using the stored energy to provide electric torque assistance to the engine under normal driving and acceleration, as well as running the vehicle’s electrical ancillaries,” Ford said.

The 48-volt system enables the Kuga’s / Escape’s Auto Start-Stop technology to operate in more situations for additional fuel savings, contributing to “anticipated” CO2 emissions from 132g/km CO2 and 5.0L/100km.

Kuga / Escape Hybrid: The Kuga / Escape Hybrid uses a self-charging full-hybrid powertrain that enables pure-electric driving capability and combines a 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine; electric motor; generator; lithium-ion battery; and a Ford-developed power-split automatic transmission. The Kuga Hybrid will be available later in 2020 with both front-wheel drive and Ford Intelligent All-Wheel Drive, returning around 5.6L/100km.

Beyond its hybrid powertrains, Ford claims it has tweaked its engine line-up for the Kuga / Escape, that all are Euro6 compliant and that emissions have been calculated using the World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). Both six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic transmissions will be available (in Europe, at least, locally we’ll likely only get the eight-speed automatic).

The conventional engine line-up includes a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol making 140kW and returning around 5.7L/100km. A 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder will also be available making around 90kW and returning a claimed 4.8L/100km. There will be two versions of this engine, one delivering the 90kW already mentioned and one offering around 110kW and it’ll return 6.5L/100km. This engine will also offer, in a first, cylinder deactivation. Cylinder deactivation can disengage or re-engage one cylinder in 14 milliseconds – 20 times faster than the blink of an eye.

“One size does not fit all, so we’ve developed a nuanced powertrain strategy for the all-new Kuga that will help customers find the right solution for their lifestyle, and also support SUV drivers by making the transition to an electrified lifestyle easy and enjoyable,” said Joerg Beyer, executive director, Engineering, Ford of Europe. “Kuga (Escape) is the first Ford vehicle to benefit from the full range of sophisticated Ford Hybrid powertrain solutions.”

Kuga / Escape also offers selectable Drive Mode technology which tweaks throttle response, steering weight and traction control, plus gearshift timings for automatic models. Alongside Normal, Sport and Eco modes, Slippery mode offers drivers increased confidence on surfaces with reduced grip such as snow and ice. Deep Snow/Sand mode helps maintain vehicle momentum on soft surfaces.

all-new Ford Kuga

The new Kuga / Escape is 44mm wider and 89mm longer than the old model, while the wheelbase has increased by 20mm. Inside, Ford claims that translates to 43mm more shoulder room and 5mm more hip room in the front seats than the outgoing model, while rear passengers benefit from 20mm more shoulder room and 36mm more hip room. Despite an overall height that is 20mm lower than the outgoing model, all-new Kuga / Escape also has 13mm more headroom for front seat occupants and 35mm more in the rear.

all-new Ford Kuga

For rear seat passengers, heated outer seats are available for the first time (depending on the variant), and the entire second row of seats can be moved backwards for up to 1035mm rear legroom, or forwards to increase boot space by 67 litres. A remote release function enables the second row to be folded flat with ease.

The boot also has a reversible luggage compartment mat with velour on one side and a durable and robust rubber surface on the other side for when you’re carrying wet or muddy gear.

Like the Endura, the new Kuga / Escape will also get Ford’s Active Noise Control which uses three microphones, placed throughout the cabin, to monitor engine noise in the interior. The system then directs opposing sound waves through the audio system to cancel out unwanted engine and transmission noises. This will be standard for Kuga / Escape Plug-In Hybrid Vignale, Kuga / Escape EcoBlue Hybrid and Kuga / Escape 2.0-litre EcoBlue Vignale variants.

The new Kuga / Escape also comes complete with a range of active safety features, including autonomous emergency braking (with pedestrian and cyclist detection with intersection functionality too), lane-keep assist, blind spot monitoring. It will also have Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Stop & Go, Speed Sign Recognition and Lane-Centring. And it will also feature Ford’s Intelligent Speed Assist which Practical Motoring has already tested on the new Focus and the European Union will expect all new cars from 2022 to have as standard. The Kuga / Escape will also be the first Ford SUV to offer a head-up display.

And for those who don’t like parking, the new Kuga / Escape offers Ford’s Active Park Assist 2 which fully-automates manoeuvres into and out of parallel and perpendicular parking spaces at the push of a button. The vehicle fully controls forward and reverse gear selection, throttle and braking, as well as steering – manoeuvring into spaces just 92 centimetres longer than the car and on gradients up to 12 percent at speeds of up to 4km/h, before engaging park. The technology can also help drivers exit parallel parking spaces using fully automated Park-out Assist.

And one that hire car companies will love is the Wrong Way Alert which uses a windscreen mounted camera and information from the car’s navigation system to provide drivers with audible and visual warnings when driving through two “No Entry” signs on a motorway ramp.

“We don’t believe in technology for technology’s sake,” Rowley said. “Features like our FordPass Connect on-board modem and new Lane-Keeping System with Blind Spot Assist – combined with our new Ford Hybrid range of powertrains solutions – are designed to reflect the ever-evolving ways that we use our cars, and to help the all-new Kuga slip seamlessly into our customers lives.”

Question: Could this new Ford Kuga / Escape outsmart the likes of Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson and Volkswagen Tiguan?

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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober