From £21,170
The US market Ford Escape hints at what Europe can expect from the Kuga next year. It offers more style and driving fun than its predecessor, but is just as functional

Our Verdict

Ford Kuga

The second-generation Ford Kuga sports an American facelift, new trims and added equipment, doesn't detract it from still being one of the more athletic SUVs on sale

23 May 2012

What is it?

The compact SUV segment is one of the biggest and most competitive in the market, with entries ranging from the Toyota RAV4 to the Chevrolet Equinox in the US. Ford's Escape has always been a solid and reliable performer, but one trading charm and comfort for yeoman functionality.

The redesigned Escape, virtually identical to the Kuga that Europeans will get, is a very different animal. As the latest model to be transformed by the company's 'One Ford' product strategy, it now shares the same platform as the Focus and C-Max, albeit stretched by four inches.

What's it like?

Compared with the previous, truck-like Escape, the new SUV is a bit lower, permitting Ford designers to sculpt a much more appealing body, more in line with the firm's current car range. Nose on, it is now more hot hatch than bluff 4x4, with a sweeping, almost coupé-like curve to the roofline while still maintaining good visibility. 

Even more impressive is the way Ford has reworked the cabin. That's particularly noteworthy for Europeans used to the drab and somewhat confined cabin of the old Kuga. The new model is not only more spacious but also decidedly upmarket; our Titanium edition was finished in leather, with accents of chrome and piano black, making it easy to forget this is a 'utility' vehicle.

The new model gets a largely new powertrain line-up. In the US, the V6 and hybrid vanish, replaced by the two Ecoboost alternatives: a 1.6-litre unit delivering 176bhp and 184lb ft, and a 2.0-litre version bumping that to 237bhp and 270lb ft. Europeans will initially get 138bhp and 161bhp versions of Ford's 2.0-litre turbodiesel, which will have the option of a Powershift dual-clutch automatic gearbox, and a 148bhp 1.6-litre Ecoboost. 

The bigger of the Ecoboost engines in our all-wheel-drive Escape Titanium proved smooth, quiet and capable, with a nice hint of throaty rumble under full acceleration. The overall drive experience is markedly improved when compared with both the old, truck-like Escape and the outgoing Kuga. It's markedly more fun to drive, with surprisingly nimble manners that belie our test version's kerb weight of 1720kg.

Should I buy one?

The new Escape/Kuga twins should give buyers a reason to place a Ford on their shopping list.

It's a giant leap for the Blue Oval that rises above most of the competition. The downside? There's a hefty premium for the fully loaded Escape, but considering what you're getting, it's hard to quibble with the price. 

Paul Eistenstein

Ford Escape

Price: £29,000 (est); 0-62mph: 7.0sec (est); Top speed: 135mph (est); Economy: 29.0mpg (combined, est); CO2: 230g/km (set); Kerb weight: 1720kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1999cc, turbo, petrol; Power: 237bhp; Torque: 270lb ft; Gearbox: 6-spd automatic


Join the debate


23 May 2012

It may be much more stylish than the Escape, but imo the 1st gen Kuga was a better looking car. And, come on...

Autocar wrote:

a sweeping, almost coupé-like curve to the roofline 

? No.





23 May 2012

I know it's an old chestnut but I see One Ford does'nt mean US pricing, this is a premium car in the UK with a list of £30k / $47k. It ranges in the US from £14k - 19k. In the US the escape has been a bit of a "student car" or affordable car, but now they get the best European engines and decent quality plastics in the interiors. I think they can do much better on the pricing of these World cars.

24 May 2012

OOOh, look, another SUV, puh- lease!

Peter Cavellini.

23 May 2012

The dash is hideous, but then so are all current ford dashboards. They set out to different and ended up looking cheap and tacky. Kuga has been a good car for Ford, I hope they can add to this for the MK2.

23 May 2012

Chip35 wrote:

The dash is hideous, but then so are all current ford dashboards. They set out to different and ended up looking cheap and tacky.

Have to agree with you - looks like they just threw a load of random shapes and styles into the mix and then gave up.

23 May 2012

March1 wrote:

Chip35 wrote:

The dash is hideous, but then so are all current ford dashboards. They set out to different and ended up looking cheap and tacky.

Have to agree with you - looks like they just threw a load of random shapes and styles into the mix and then gave up.

I beg to differ...

I think the interior looks quite, dare I say it, cool. Its more interesting than the bland layouts from the Germans, but not as crazy and dysfunctional as some of the Japanese offerings.

23 May 2012

I think Ford have got their styling spot on at the moment. They're dicreet enough to blend into the background as a Ford should. But they are also interesting enough to appeal to wide range of people. Particularly when the new Mondeo comes whenever that is, Ford will  have a stunning line up of cars with the Fiesta and Focus being two of the best looking hatches on sale.

23 May 2012

This review should be preceded with a big banner "reviewed in the US". I live in the US and generally have been impressed with the raft of new cars to come out of Detroit Big Three (mostly GM), but this car is clearly a step-down from the Kuga. First, it looks much worse - I saw it at a car show and it looks bloated, the styling contrived, and the details badly resolved. The interior is evern worse - overstyled, with awful materials and ergonomics, and probably the nastiest foot-activated "handbrake" this side of a Ford Taurus circa 1995. I haven't driven it yet but I have no doubt it'll be better than the previous Escape, but doubt that it'll achieve anything like the nimbleness of the present, much smaller and lighter Kuga.

So, a good car, just not a good car by UK standards - I'd take the Mazda CX-5 every time!


23 May 2012

Looks nice, and should be fun with 237bhp.

23 May 2012

Waaaaay to many creases in the bodywork and the tailgate is so busy its a mess. Then you look inside and ouch! the geometry lesson moves up to diploma level. The current Kuga looks a lot better it was just poorly packaged - the small boot was unforgivable on a vehicle its size with only 5 seats. Way overpriced too.


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