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Here It Is: New 2012 Ford Escape, But Will There Be a Hybrid?

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ford kuga individual 001

ford kuga individual 001

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The Ford Escape compact sport utility, including its hybrid model, is now long in the tooth or beyond. It was first introduced as a 2001  model, and has been restyled twice. It still sells well, though, and Ford continues to update the hybrid model. Nonetheless, it's overdue for replacement.

Now, word has leaked out that Ford will not only replace the Escape for 2012 with the European Kuga crossover that went on sale in 2008, but will build the vehicles in Louisville, Kentucky, for both the North American market and for export to Europe.

2009 Ford Kuga

2009 Ford Kuga

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ford kuga individual 007

ford kuga individual 007

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08kugaeu 07 3

08kugaeu 07 3

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ford kuga individual 008

ford kuga individual 008

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ford kuga individual 005

ford kuga individual 005

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08kugaeu 01 3

08kugaeu 01 3

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08kugaeu 04 3

08kugaeu 04 3

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The Louisville plant now makes the old Explorer midsize sport utility, which will be replaced by a car-based crossover for 2012. It is expected to send as many as 80,000 Kugas to Europe, replacing production from a factory in Germany that is now much more expensive than the U.S. In July 2008, Ford said the plant would start building vehicles "from the global C-car platform" in 2011.

Ford thus joins BMW and Mercedes-Benz in building sport utilities for much of the world in the U.S., where their sales are greater than in any other region.

The Kuga is roughly the same size as the Escape, and is offered with front-wheel-drive and all-wheel drive, as well as an array of several gasoline and diesel engines.

Only gasoline engines are likely to be offered in the U.S. market, but our most pressing question is whether the hybrid model will continue. We believe it will, since the Escape Hybrid has a good reputation, solid sales in the ultra-demanding taxi cab market, and holds the crown for the first U.S.-built hybrid, way back in 2004.

Ford hybrids have been on a roll lately, with the addition of the well-received 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid midsize sedan increasing sales of the carmaker's greenest vehicles.  Honda, meanwhile, hasn't done as well as it hoped with its 2010 Honda Insight hybrid subcompact. Ford's hybrid sales rose 73 percent through September, to 26,016 vehicles, whereas Honda rose just 8 percent to 29,958 over the same period.

No word thus far on whether the Escape name will survive, or whether Ford will move to consistent badging worldwide by making the vehicle a Kuga even in the U.S. We're betting Escape sticks around ... but don't hold us to that, OK?

[Automotive News (subscription required), Bloomberg via Edmunds]

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Comments (30)
  1. good stuff. will be curious to see if they do indeed come through with a hybrid. also, will be very happy to see if they do indeed move all production over to the states. great to actually see some manufacturing and exporting of real goods.
     
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  2. Great-looking little crossover. Make it the next-generation Escape, build a hybid version (hey, and while you're at it, build a performance version with one of those nifty Ecoboost engines) and they will sell like hotcakes.
     
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  3. Im also betting the Manual Trans won't survive here in a Wussified market of Non-stick drivers. I hope it do make it though
     
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  4. I think this is a mistake for ford. The escape now is "boxy-suv looking" alternative to other car based suvs like the cr-v and rav-4. That is why they sell well now. Moving away from that look I think may hurt sales.
     
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  5. agreed, i love my 2010 escape. was thinking about trading it in next year for the newest model. but i guess now it might have to be the kuga?
     
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  6. I'm glad i purchased a 2009 . I think going to a fastback design like everyone else will hurt sales. One of the main things going for The Escape is it's styling and you can actually see out of it. I guess I'll have to find something else next time i buy.
     
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  7. Big mistake by Ford. Most people purchase the escape because they like the boxie styling and they can also see out the rear window. that's why I purchase my 2009.
     
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  8. I have a 2007 Ford Escape Hybrid - best car I have ever owned. Ford
    should keep the car as part of their line - great body styling, great size for the family, the family pets, and just hauling stuff.
    I never post a comment but when I heard of discontinuing a beautiful "greener" car well I had to make a comment. Ford, "continue producing a
    modern version of a great SUV". It should be a staple in the line.
     
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  9. Bad idea. I bought my 2008 Escape and plan to replace it with another Escape.
    I Love the size and styling. I do not want another Euro-styled crossover that all other car companies are making.
    Keep the Escape and add the Kuga, if you like.
     
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  10. It looks cool, but it looks like any other suv on market, i was thinking on buying an escape 2010, because i like its strong design it looks rude and i love that, now, im not so sure.
     
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  11. Awaiting the 2012 Mercury Mariner hybrid, if it has DFI and Toyota's new e/VVT-i multimode engine technique. DFI engine runs in base Otto mode, 15:1 CR, in low to moderate power band, and then transitions into Atkinson cycle mode, 12:1 CR, for POWER/WOT.
     
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  12. tdhall:
    EcoBoost = TwinForce = Gas-Guzzler.
    In order to accomodate BOOST (once it "arrives")the engine MUST be derated in cruise mode, for most of us that would be 98-99% of the time. Industry standard CR for a DFI engine is 12:1, these new Ford Gas-Guzzlers must get by with
     
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  13. StangII:
    The problem, HAZARDS, patently UNSAFE nature, of automatics in FWD and/or F/awd for wintertime adverse roadbed condition use remains, but...
    VW has a new solution for FWD and/or F/awd vehicle with stick shifting. If the driver inadvertently downshifts to a level that would otherwise result in front loss of traction due to compression braking the engine control ECU will simply "up-rev" the engine so the front drive wheels do not slip.
    Now the "WUSSES" can be safe with stick shifting a FWD and so can "we".
     
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  14. StangII:
    Bad bet, maybe.
    Ford yet may adopt, cross-license, VW's new technique that allows FWD and F/awd vehicles with manual transmissions to be operated safely by WUSSES, even in wintertime adverse roadbed, low traction, conditions.
    The technique automatically "up-revs" the engine should the driver inadvertently downshift too far, so far that loss of directional control might otherwise result.
     
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  15. I have a 2005 Ford Escape and it is the best vehicle I have ever had as well. I have had ZERO problems with it in 5 years other than a battery. Looks Great, Runs Great. If this is what the 2012 Escape is going to look like I will be buying another. Not a Tiguan want to be. I like what ford is doing but will hold judgement until I see it. WE DO NOT WANT another Crossover want to be.
     
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  16. Looks superb! Way to go Ford...
    I hope the engine choices will match the fine looks.
    I think Ford is right on track.
     
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  17. Hey Willard, who gives a flying frick about some BS VW. We're talking about a Ford. Got nothing better to do than Blog about your VW crap here??? Get a Frickin Life!!!
     
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  18. Very disappointing! I've been looking forward to trading for an Escape, as each year it improved. Now it's ugly and looks just like every other vehicle. Be a leader, not a follower! I'll have to find something else.
     
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  19. The Kuga is ugly as hell compared with the 2008-2010 Mercury Mariner Hybrid. But Ford is known for doing this sort of thing--do you remember the Sable with the beautiful wrap-around glass and how it was replaced?
     
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  20. I had a 2005 Escape (bought in 2004) sold it and bought a 2010 Mazda 3 GTE in 2009. I hated the downsize and have just gotten a 2010 Ford Escape Limited XLT.
    I love the Escape. A coworker just got hers now too. Its amazing how much you appreciate the space when you lose it in a compact car. This KUGA looks like a BMW X3 - But i still love the Escape!
     
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  21. i have a 2002 ford escape and i love it. but i want to get a new car in the future. when i first saw this car, i fell in love with it. i was thinking about getting a ford edge but im 5'3 and its a little tooo big for me, so i think this would be perfect for me because its like a mini-edge. my dad works for ford and they had a "sample" or whatever you call it and he said its a very nice car. so all of you that are saying its ugly, dont judge something until you see it in person! i trust my dad 100% and i will for sure get one when it comes out!
     
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  22. This is one ugly car. Dumb ugly. Big, dumb, and ugly.
    Kuga. As in 'Cougar' after getting a tooth drilled? Gotta love those Marketers.
    What is wrong with Ford? What is wrong with America?
    Doesn't any one think that a durable station wagon built to get good mileage and handle well would not sell here? Why do we have to put up with these big, blingy, poor mileage, over-powered, head-in-the-sand trucks that say, "Look at me: I'm a geopolitical ignoramous! An ecological disaster! An evolutionary dead-end.". Oh, if I pay thousands more I can get a hybrid that will almost get the mileage that a wagon could get 20 years ago? Sounds expensive.
    I will chose not to buy one of these.
     
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  23. You people that are complaining about everything that you can think of concerning the Ford Kuga look is you all judging a book by its cover. Stop complaining and when this next generation Ford Escape shows up in local dealerships, try it out for yourselves and then see what you really think about it. Honestly, just like the all-new Fusion, Taurus & Fiesta...the all-new Escape is not just going to be right up with its competition, this time it will be outselling its competition's versions. I can't wait to see it in show rooms near home & I'd consider buying one. I hope you consider buying it, too...
     
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  24. Very nice, much better than the long in the tooth current model. Now ford, I am sure you won't, let you vehicles get so dated anymore. Thanks.
     
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  25. Was in England in May 2008. Saw a Kuga review in local paper so I clipped and brought home. Wrote Ford requesting they bring it to US with the DIESEL given the review test results - 44.1 MPG for 4WD; sporty response AND decent towing. Will replace my 2002 Escape with Kuga IF OFFER DIESEL!
     
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  26. @Ron: Don't hold your breath. Here are the reasons why automakers aren't likely to offer U.S. buyers small diesels like the ones they sell in Europe: http://www.greencarreports.com/blog/1051249_five-reasons-small-diesels-wont-dominate-the-u-s-car-market and http://www.greencarreports.com/blog/1039689_why-cant-we-buy-small-european-diesels-in-the-u-s
     
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  27. I just traded my 2006 Escape Hybrid for a 2011 Escape Limited because I knew it would be the last year to get the Escape that still looks like a small truck based SUV which is what most of us liked about SUVs to being with. The 2012 Escape will look like everything else on the road. I can't tell a Kia from a Nissan from a Hyndai. They all look exactly the same.
    Not everyone wants a crossover vehicle...and if we do, there are about 482 on the market to choose from. Ford is taking away the last real small SUV on the market. Everything else is just a slightly taller car.
    I'm going to baby my Escape and hope it holds out until this bubble car fad passes and auto manufacturers go back to making an actual small SUV. If we wanted a crossover we would have purchased one. Ford, you are doing your Escape fans wrong. While the Kuga is a great looking crossover...please simply offer the Kuga as an option instead of a replacement.
     
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  28. The current Escape is so outdated it is a joke. My cousin has one and when we go on road trips I always volunteer to drive. I have never in my life been in another vehicle that is as primitive as the Escape. It is literally painful to ride in the back seat, there seem to be no shocks or struts at all. She has a limited Black on black. The leather looks like vinyl, the piano lack trim looks cheap. This car is an embarassment for Ford.
    I am so glad they are updating it. As far as I understand the current version is not truck based, it is just an outdated box on wheels. I would be much more likely to buy the updated Escape/Kuga. Ford get over the idea the you only have to redesign cars sold in america every 10-12 years! Be competitive with the rest of the world.
     
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  29. The 2012 escape if based on this kuga is a major mistake. Time will tell. Its an ugly looking suv.
    Nuff said.
     
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  30. Ford please give us the full blown European version Kuga with the diesel and the manual that gets 44 miles to the gallon. For those of you that don't want to shift maybe Ford can swing a deal for the VW Tiptronic transmision great automatic with manual fule mileage. If you get it here I am buying. Please keep the styling of the European Kuga it looks great don't change it.
     
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