Ford is in the early stages of on-road testing of its next-generation Escape, or Kuga if you’re reading this in Europe.
A test mule for the redesigned compact crossover SUV has been spotted for the first time.
The test mule is using the makeshift body of the current Escape to hide the new mechanicals, though we can still gather a few clues about the new model.
A lengthened tail section and wider hood suggests the new Escape, the nameplate’s fourth iteration, will be longer and wider than its predecessor. It also looks like the ride height will be taller and the approach angle steeper, which should give the vehicle a tougher, more rugged stance.
2021 Ford Escape (Kuga) test mule spy shots – Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien
The increased size makes sense with Ford having recently introduced the subcompact Ecosport. Key Escape rivals like the Nissan Rogue and Volkswagen Tiguan have also grown substantially with their most recent redesigns.
Underpinning the vehicle is likely a close relative of the platform residing under the fourth-generation Focus compact due out later this year. Look for the standard powertrain to be a turbocharged inline-4 and 8-speed automatic in the United States. We’re also expecting the Escape Hybrid to make a return, this time with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. It’s part of Ford’s plan to launch 24 hybrid and plug-in hybrids over the next five years, including F-150 and Mustang hybrids.
It’s still early days for the new Escape as the first prototypes are unlikely to be out and about until next year. This means the debut of the new Escape is unlikely to happen until 2020, which means we’ll probably see it arrive in showrooms as a 2021 model.
Production for the U.S. will take place at Ford’s plant in Louisville, Kentucky, where the current Escape is built.