Ford New Zealand has dropped the Kuga nameplate and replaced it with Escape, a change that means the moniker of every Blue Oval SUV in this part of the world will eventually begin with an ‘E’.
The Escape lands here in December to join the smaller Ecosport and larger Everest. The Edge arrives early in 2018 to replace the Territory. The switch to ‘E’ names is not altogether a global move – Ford in the UK will hang on to the Kuga handle.
The Escape badge is not new to NZ either. It was on a rebadged Mazda Tribute for 10 years or so, back when Ford and Mazda were swapping all sorts of stuff.
It returns not on an all-new model but on the mid-life update of what was the Kuga. There’s a sharper exterior design, restyled interior, more technology, and new front-wheel-drive versions.
Ford says that by pushing a button and saying “I need a coffee”, for example, Sync3 will find nearby cafes. Other simple voice commands can also find petrol stations or car parks, train stations, airports, and hotels.
All models get a six-speed automatic transmission, the choice of petrol or diesel engines and either 18- or 19-inch alloy wheels. Standard equipment improves with the price.
The Escape range begins with the Ambiente badge, powered by a four-cylinder 1.5-litre Ecoboost petrol engine good for 134kW/240Nm. The front-driver (FWD) is $37,990, the all-wheel-drive (AWD) variant $40,990. Braked towing capacity is 2000kg for the FWD and 1850kg for the AWD. Claimed fuel use is 7 litres/100km for the FWD and 7.4 for the AWD.
The mid-range Trend offers three variants – the front-drive 1.5-litre at $41,990, the AWD 2.0-litre Ecoboost at $44,990, and the AWD 2.0-litre TDCi turbo-diesel at $46,490. The 2.0-litre petrol unit delivers 178kW/345Nm; the 2.0-litre oil-burner 132kW/400Nm. Braked towing capacity for both engines is 1500kg. Ford says the petrol unit uses 8.6 litres/100km and the diesel 5.4 litres.
The premium Escape badge is Titanium, with two AWD models and the choice of the same 2.0-litre engines as the Trend line. Both Trend and Titanium get the Active City Stop collision avoidance system that now operates at speeds up to 50km/h – up from 30km/h.
Titanium adds much more, including Adaptive Front Lighting system on variants fitted with bi-Xenon headlights. There’s also keyless entry, a panoramic glass roof, hands-free power tailgate, leather upholstery, adaptive cruise control, front parking sensors, LED tail-lights …