The Ford Kuga is dead, long live the 2017 Ford Escape, says the company’s Australian arm.
Keen watchers will know, of course, that the Escape is the SUV currently sold in Australia and Europe as the Kuga. For the 2017 model year, the Escape badge will replace Kuga in a new step to unify the company’s global marketing.
The Escape name is not new to Australia, having appeared in the local Ford range in the 2000s. But, while that badge will soon return to these shores, ‘Kuga’ will carry on in parts of Europe, where the mid-sized SUV sells much better than it has managed in Australia. Ford of Europe, then, is understandably not inclined to meddle with that success.
In Australia, the renaming is claimed to be driven by a desire to match the ‘E’ theme that Ford’s SUV models follow in most markets (Everest, EcoSport, Edge (now confirmed for Australia), Explorer, Expedition, et cetera).
It is also likely that the company is hoping to reboot ailing sales figures for its mid-sized SUV offering.
The Kuga has managed just 3370 sales so far in 2016 (to end of September), while a look at VFACTS sales figures reveal the top sellers in the segment to be the Mazda CX-5 (19,090), the Hyundai Tucson (19,969), the Toyota RAV4 (14,936) and the Nissan X-Trail (13,453).
Any effort to give sales a boost will be helped by the SUV’s refreshed look, as revealed in February ahead of its official premiere at the Geneva motor show the following month.
Along with new front- and rear-end styling, the 2017 Escape will continue Ford Australia’s rollout of the Sync 3 infotainment platform, which includes enhanced gesture control and connectivity with Apple Carplay and Android Auto among its standout features.
Ford has also added a new variant to the Trend trim grade, dropping the 134kW/240Nm 1.5-litre six-speed paddle-shifter automatic and front-wheel-drive configuration in beneath the existing 2.0-litre 178kW/345Nm petrol and 132kW/400Nm diesel options. (In six-speed manual form, the 1.5-litre engine offers 110kW and 240Nm).
“New FWD 1.5-litre Escape Trend fills the gap in Ford’s line-up, providing a variant that almost one-third of customers in this segment choose,” the company said in a release today.
The revised range will kick off from $28,490, marking a sharper opening point than the $29,250 position of the outgoing Kuga range.
Adding a new variant to the mid-spec Trend range also cuts the price of entry into that band, from $36,890 in Kuga Trend 2.0-litre all-wheel-drive form to a new $32,990 for the 1.5-litre front-wheel-drive Trend.
The Escape will come to Australia in early 2017, with exact timing still to be confirmed.
Sync 3 with 8.0-inch capacitive touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Embedded satellite-navigation with Traffic Management Control (TMC)
Dual-zone climate control with rear air vents
AM/FM/DAB+ radio, six-speaker audio with USB input, Bluetooth streaming
Reverse Camera and rear parking sensors
Cruise Control with speed limiter
Front and rear fog-lamps
Electronic Parking Brake
Sync Emergency Assist
18-inch alloy wheels
Roof-rails in silver finish
Automatic rain-sensing windscreen wipers
Automatic-dimming rear-vision mirror
Automatic on/off headlights
Follow-me home lighting
Leather-wrap gear lever
19-inch alloy wheels
Smart Keyless Entry
Power folding mirrors with approach light Bi-Xenon HID headlights with auto levelling
LED Daytime-running lights
Adaptive Beam Shape and Dynamic bending headlights
10-way power-adjustable Driver’s seat
Front parking sensors
Enhanced Active Park Assist
Panoramic glass roof
Front and rear velour floor mats
Hands-free power tailgate
Multi-colour ambient lighting
OPTIONAL: $1300 Ford Driver Assist Technologies pack
(Not available with Ambiente)
Lane Departure Warning (LDW) with Driver Alert
Lane Keeping Assist
Auto High Beam
Enhanced Active City Stop up to 50km/h (was previously up to 30km/h)
Adaptive Cruise with Forward Alert and Enhanced Collision Mitigation
BLIS with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (rear cross traffic alert is new)
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System
1.5L petrol (six-speed manual)
Towing capacity: 1500(FWD), 1600kg (AWD)
1.5L petrol (six-speed paddle-shift automatic)
134kW @ 6000rpm
240Nm @ 1600-5000rpm
Towing capacity: 1500kg (FWD), 1600kg (AWD)
2.0L petrol (six-speed paddle-shift automatic)
178kW @ 5500rpm
345Nm @ 2000-4500rpm
Towing capacity: 1600kg
2.0L diesel (six-speed paddle-shift automatic)
132kW @ 3500rpm
400Nm @ 2000-2500rpm
Towing capacity: 1800kg
1.5L FWD 6-speed manual – $28,490 (previously $29,250)
1.5L FWD 6-speed auto – $29,990 (prev $30,750)
1.5L AWD 6-speed auto – $32,990 (prev $33,250)
1.5L EcoBoost FWD 6-speed auto – $32,990 (new)
2.0L EcoBoost AWD 6-speed auto – $35,990 (prev $36,890)
2.0L TDCi AWD 6-speed auto – $38,490 (prev $38,890)
2.0L EcoBoost AWD 6-speed auto – $44,990 (prev $45,190)
2.0L TDCi AWD 6-speed auto – $47,490 (prev $47,190)
Listen to the CarAdvice team discuss this topic below, and catch more like this at caradvice.com/podcast.
MORE: 2016 Ford Kuga: Australian update adds Sync 2, larger screen
MORE: 2017 Ford Kuga (now Escape) facelift due in Oz early next year
MORE: 2016 Kuga pricing and specs (November 2015)
MORE: 2017 Ford Escape: New looks, new Sync 3 Connect
MORE: 2017 Kuga facelift revealed
MORE: Kuga news, reviews, pricing and specs
MORE: Top 5 medium SUVs