It’s not everyday a car maker asks motorists to put the boot into one of its vehicle – but that’s just what Ford expects from owners of its 2013 Escape compact SUV.
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The 2013 Ford Escape revealed at this week’s 2011 Los Angeles motor show features a clever hands-free electronic tailgate that opens and closes simply by kicking a leg under the rear bumper.

Two sensors under the bumper trigger the automatic unlocking and opening process, with one activating the system when it detects your shin and the second recognising the kicking action.

The Escape’s key fob must also be detectable for the operation to work, such as being carried in a jacket or trouser pocket.

Ford says the hands-free system is a first for the compact SUV segment and will make life easier for motorists who have both hands full when approaching the Escape’s boot.

The system can’t be triggered accidentally, the company says.

“Animals running under the car, hitting bumps in the road or having leaves swirl below the vehicle on the road won’t trip the tailgate,” says Ford systems engineer Michael Becker. “We’ve designed the system so the liftgate opens when you want it to.”

The 2013 Ford Escape goes on sale in markets such as the US and Europe next year, but looks set to be delayed until early 2013 for Australia.

The vehicle will retain the Kuga name for Europe.