A seven-seater 2022 Ford Escape is currently in development, according to US website Ford Authority.
With the all-new 2021 Ford Escape due in Australia sometime in the third quarter with an optional plug-in hybrid powertrain, this opens to possibility of Ford offering a seven-seat, plug-in hybrid Escape in the future.
Adding a third row to the Escape would see it graduate from medium to large SUV in VFACTS, joining models like the Mazda CX-8, Tiguan Allspace and Skoda Kodiaq at the smaller '5+2' end of the segment.
The new three-row Escape would likely step in for the five-seat Ford Endura, which has struggled to sell in the highly-competitive large SUV segment – filled with seven-seat competitors – since it was introduced locally in 2018.
Compared with the same time in 2019, the Endura has seen sales drop by nearly 40 per cent year-to-date – nearly double the decline of the industry-wide drop of 20 per cent, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Using a longer wheelbase than the soon-to-arrive Ford Escape, the three-row version is said to use the same underpinnings as the Ford Focus, the recently-announced Bronco Sport, and the upcoming Ford Maverick ute.
Ford Australia wouldn't comment on the possibility of a seven-seat Escape, but a right-hand-drive version could be announced locally before 2022.