Now We Know: This Will Be The New 2012 Ford Escape Hybrid

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Ford was clearly one of the stars of last week's Detroit Auto Show, launching green vehicles and concepts across a wide range of fuel-saving technologies.

The company unveiled just a single concept, the Vertrek crossover, but it's an important one. The production version of the Vertrek will be the replacement for both the Escape crossover in the U.S. and the similarly-sized Kuga crossover in Europe.

We don't yet know if it'll keep the Escape name for the U.S., shift to a new name--Vertrek, perhaps?--or even convert over to the European Kuga label. Regardless, this is the hybrid crossover that Ford will offer, along with a raft of other non-hybrid fuel-saving technologies.

Partying like 1999, no more

The 2011 Ford Escape Hybrid is the last year of a model whose basic design dates back more than a decade to the launch of the original 1999 Ford Escape. The hybrid model, added in October 2004, was both the first hybrid sport utility and the first U.S.-built hybrid of any kind.

2009 Ford Escape Hybrid

2009 Ford Escape Hybrid

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Now we know what the 2012 Ford Escape Hybrid will look like: Imagine a Vertrek with slightly smaller wheels, and with door handles added.

Add or subtract a few of the flashier trim elements and design cues, and there you have it: a fully modern Escape, with the company's MyFord Touch audio control system and all the electronic goodies you could want.

'Kinetic design'

The new crossover sports a raked-back windshield and carefully shaped body surfaces, both to lessen aerodynamic drag. The trapezoidal lower front grille offers a family connection to the 2012 Ford Focus compact.

2011 Ford Vertrek Concept

2011 Ford Vertrek Concept

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Ford calls this its 'kinetic design' theme, and it will be used across most of Ford's lineup of global vehicles. Following the Fiesta and Focus, the first two cars Ford adapted from their European roots to sell in the States, the Vertrek will be the third truly global design to be built and sold all over the world.

The swoopy design resembles the current Kuga far more than than the upright and slab-sided Escape. But the dimensions of the Vertrek are much closer--especially in the all-important wheelbase--to today's Escape, meaning it should have more legroom and interior volume than the slightly smaller Kuga.

The Vertrek show car shows off a panoramic glass roof, which--in light of stringent new rollover roof-strength requirements--may give way to more conventional rectangular moonroof panels.

2009 Ford Kuga

2009 Ford Kuga

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Fuel-saving technologies

There's also a power bulge on the hood, which on the concept car is meant to highlight Ford's 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

That will be one of two engines offered, and may replace the optional 3.0-liter V-6 offered today. The other engine is likely to be an evolution of the current Escape's 2.5-liter four.

One or both of the gasoline engines may be offered with the engine start-stop technology Ford has said it will offer on various vehicles to eliminate gasoline wasted in idling at stop lights.

Ford Four-Cylinder EcoBoost Engine

Ford Four-Cylinder EcoBoost Engine

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Best MPGs of all

But the hybrid is likely to offer the best fuel economy of all. Today's 2011 Ford Escape Hybrid is EPA-rated at 34 mpg city, 31 mpg highway in front-wheel-drive form (30 mpg city, 27 mpg highway fitted with all-wheel-drive).

If Ford stands by its promise to offer 'best-in-class' fuel economy on every new vehicle it sells, those numbers are likely to rise for the new-generation hybrid.

Among other changes, the Escape/Vertrek Hybrid will switch to a lithium-ion battery pack from today's nickel-metal-hydride technology, which holds less energy per pound.

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Comments (10)
  1. Style is endlessly fascinating. I am sure someone has worked to make this a "beautiful" vehicle, but I just don't get it. Don't get me wrong, I don't think it is bad looking, but I don't think it is good looking either.
    The concept car looks like they accidentally put the wrong tires on the vehicle. The belt line is up so high it looks like an old man with his pants pulled up too far. Furthermore the front grill looks very unbalanced. The front lower and side grills are too large.
    And the side profile, looks much like the Prius V, except that the Ford sits up higher. The Prius constantly gets negative feedback on its looks. Is this Ford really any better? I don't think so.
    On the other hand, the Ford is not as unattractive as the Porsche Cayenne.
    As for the MPG, can't wait to see the numbers. If people must drive oversized vehicles, at least they should be hybrids.
    John C. Briggs

  2. There will be no 2012 Ford Escape Hybrid.
    The press release on Ford website states that the global Escape/Kuga will offer a high mileage 1.6 EcoBoost(which gets combined 44mpg in the current Mondeo, and better than the current Escape hybrid). Drivers of the Escape will benefit more from a higher mileage engine, and no hybrid Escape/kuga is planned for the future.
    Also don't be surprised when the Fusion Hybrid is discontinued for after 2011, and replaced by the 2012 Focus Hybrid Sedan with the new 1.6 EcoBoost with mpg in the 60s.
    Understanding that Phase II of Ford's New Electrification Plan has ALL electrified cars based on the C-Platform, and manufactured in Michigan for North America. This is also why most states are seeing lots of advertisements for the current Fusion, but no mention of the Fusion Hybrid.

  3. We have an 97 Escape and have been very pleased with the overall cost, performance and standard upgrades. Hopefully Ford will offer a Plug in hybrid option for the 2012 Escape. if so we will have to upgrade. And yes it is an awsome looking vehical.

  4. goodbye original Ford Escape is part traditional SUV is little more expensive model. next generation Ford Escape will never part traditional SUV. it will powerful word crossover. if next generation popular will afford cheap price " crossover " . I know if the crossover will never related to pickup truck, jeep and off road. I know cheap crossover will ugly and boring models will provide recycle scrap than junkyards or sell parts.

  5. @bloggin: The Vertrek *IS* a Ford C-platform vehicle, and I would be shocked if Ford decided not to replace a model that made their reputation in hybrids in North America.
    I stand by the story, although--to be fair--the new Escape/Vertrek and its hybrid model may be launched early in 2012 as 2013 model-year vehicles. The Louisville plant starts production at the end of 2011, so it could go either way.

  6. As the current owner of an Escape Hybrid, I'm certainly hoping the new 2012 Escape will be offered as a hybrid and/or PHEV, but it seems odd Ford didn't announce this in Detroit. I also find it a bit of an assumption on your part John, to assume Ford will continue building an Escape hybrid without an official yes or no from them. Don't you think it would be wise to give Ford a call before posting unconfirmed information?

  7. As a consumer, any new vehicle I purchase from here on out will have to have a plug-in element to it. It is the way of the future.
    I have been eyeing the reports of Escape Hybrid 2012 and would really like to see the new design come to fruition, BUT it needs to also have the plug-in and lithium battery in order to be competitive.
    With a family, I like the fact that the Escape is larger than the little electric cars. So that is why I am interested in the vehicle.

  8. If this car isn't made in a hybrid model I don't see it doing well regardless of the MPG it gets. I think that in present times with out the word hybrid a car isn't going to do as well in the market. Even if it got worse gas mileage then a non-hybrid model of the vertrek the hybrid label will do better. I will be looking for a new car around the time the vertrek is released and if it doesn't have a hybrid option I won't be purchasing it.

  9. I love the look of the concept Vertrek. I love the chunky styling, the oversized wheels, the front grill. I just hope they keep most of the styling when they roll this out to the public. What I don't like is the back side windows - how they tilt up at the ends. We've seen the Kuga in Europe and that was the one style feature we didn't like. I do hope, hope, hope, they don't call it an Escape. Alot of the older Ford vehicles have an old fashion reputation and impression. The younger generations don't want to drive a Taurus or Focus even though the styling on these vehicles has completely change (for the better). Time to step up, redesign (which Ford is succeeding at) and rename. Let's move on to the new generation.

  10. I want one of these 2012 gorgeous looking new Escape Hybrids for 2012. I wonder if they will offer it end of 2011 or maybe offer it sometime in 2012 as a 2013? Sadly, I betcha one of these with nice big wheels, leather and sunroof and Bluetooth will cost up to $40K - and that would be ridiculous - but I still want one, how much longer do I have to wait? Thanks for the great article, dude.
    Mahalia-Jean Peppercorn
    Wampakaneta, ILL
    (How U Doin'???)

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