Whether you call it Kuga or Escape it doesn’t matter anymore. But it wasn’t like that before. Ford introduced its compact SUV in 2000 under Escape moniker, while Kuga emerged in 2008, right after the second generation of American Escape debuted. Kuga was a purely European thing, sharing absolutely nothing with American sibling, not even platform, nor the engines. It was also visually so different that you only wildly guess that they come from the same brand if somebody removed the badges. But after “blue oval” implemented “One Ford” strategy, we could say that Kuga and Escape fell into the melting pot only to surface as one uniform product. But, that is not true. The current generation of Kuga/Escape is a simple evolution of European model, keeping previous gen Kuga’s platform and offering next chapter of its design language.
HOW’S THAT PLAYED OUT FOR FORD?
Brilliantly. It seems that Americans are more enamored with European made Escape than actual Europeans are. For past three years, Escape was sold in over 300k units annually, which are much greater figures than those achieved in the past, also now allowing it to mingle with other segments bestsellers (RAV4, CR-V and Rogue).
On the old continent, it broke 100k boundary for past two years, which is fine but not great. Anyway, current generation debuted in 2012 and as it has some miles under its belt replacement is approaching in form of 2019 Ford Kuga. As for understandings of American readers morph that 2019 Ford Kuga to 2023 Ford Escape (glorious be the invention of “model year” concept), and all said bellow will apply for both of them.
2019 FORD KUGA SPECS
What does the rumor say? Currently, the only viable rumor comes from German Auto Bild magazine which claims that those are supported by insider source. That source claims that new Kuga will continue to use the same platform as Focus, albeit it will be a new one. It will debut with new Focus which should arrive in 2018 for 2019 model year, or one year before Kuga does, which will give us more insight into what to expect from upcoming SUV. Rumor further tell us that plug-in hybrid is in preparation, with powertrain consisted of three-cylinder petrol engine delivering 150 hp and 118 hp worth of electric motor. This PHEV is part of recent Ford’s strategy that will also bring hybrid versions of Mustang, F-150, Expedition, along with Lincoln MKC and Navigator. Surely, Europe will see none of those apart from Kuga and possibly Mustang.
WHAT ABOUT SPY SHOTS?
There are some out there roaming the Internet, but they don’t tell anything. Since new Kuga is in early stages of development, test mule leans on existing body, only revealing stretched dimensions. And that would be correct as new platform will bring additional inches for the sake of interior space.
As for visual side of it, we could only resort to pure guessing. Keeping in mind that new Fiesta debuted with just milder styling evolution (it hasn’t arrived in the US yet), maybe same is stored for new Kuga. Certainly, more will be clear when new Focus breaks the cover, presumably dictating some styling touches for other brand’s models.
HOTTEST PART OF THE STORY
There is one more rumor emanating from the German magazine and it’s a hot(ish) one. Allegedly Ford plans to introduce RS version of Kuga destined to boost 280 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque (380 Nm), which is extraordinary news due to the complete lack of angry mainstream compact crossover versions, while subcompact class hides gems like Soul Turbo and Juke Nismo. The only thing that acts as a spoiler is the fact that currently available turbocharged 2.0-liter L4 delivers 245 hp and 275 lb-ft of twist (372 Nm), which is not far from allegedly expected RS numerals. Furthermore, Focus with RS lettering produces 350 hp, even 370 with Mountune upgrade for the present time, which will surely rise with a new generation. So, beware Ford of diluting RS’s eminence! ST label fits perfectly to anticipated figures.
Written by Djordje (George) Mijatov ([email protected])