• Dec 30th 2009 at 3:29PM
  • 98
2008 Ford Kuga in front, possible 2011 Ford Kuga out back – click above for high-res image gallery

Here's the skinny: Ford's current Escape is heading the way of the dodo bird. In its place will be the Kuga, a much less dowdy looking compact CUV that should compete nicely with the likes of the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Hyundai Tucson. The European designed 2011 Kuga will be built here in the United States at a Louisville, Kentucky plant. All this we already know and have known for some time now.

What we don't know is what Ford will call the Kuga when it goes on sale here in 2011. Kuga is obviously one option, but so, apparently, is Escape. According to Wards Auto, Ford's domestic dealers are pushing for Escape. "I believe the Escape is a great vehicle with a great reputation and that it would be a big mistake to kill the Escape name," says one San Diego based dealer.

Others point back to Ford's decision to drop the Taurus name in favor of Five Hundred – part of the brand's strange decision to make all cars start with the letter "F" (Focus, Fusion, Five Hundred – though the Mustang never became Fustang) and all SUVs and crossovers start with the letter "E" (Edge, Escape, Explorer, Expedition, Excursion). Though, of course, reverting back to Five Hundred was supposed to drum up some long lost brand equity/nostalgia, which is the first thing CEO Alan Mulally did when he changed Five Hundred back to Taurus. Very complicated stuff, no?

So, Kuga or Escape? While there are many good arguments for Escape, here's one for Kuga – Ford's One World strategy. Simply put, rather than having one Focus for Europe and one for North America, Ford is working toward offering one global vehicle per a given segment – and that's it. And naming one car one thing for one market and one car another for another is essentially a monkey wrench in the plan. What should Ford do, and more importantly what will they do? Place your vote in our poll below and leave any further thoughts in Comments.

What should Ford call the Kuga when it reaches the U.S. market?
Kuga 5313 (35.6%)
Escape 7685 (51.5%)
Neither 1933 (12.9%)

[Source: Wards Auto]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Governor Depoy
      • 5 Years Ago
      Escape is the better name, obviously. It's a real word, and it brings to mind escape from work, escape from home, etcetera.

      But you know what I want? BRONCO.

      I am tired of crossovers. Escape, Flex, Edge, now Explorer. Where is the truck-based off-roader SUV in the bunch? Even the Ranger may be scrapped for all we know. Isn't there any room whatsoever Ford's model lineup for a vehicle for young guys that want a cheap, tossable off-roader?

      Just giving up on the entire segment is going to give that entire portion of the youth market to Toyota and the Tacoma. I don't care how nice it is, those kinds of people aren't going to be able to buy a Raptor, and they sure aren't going to buy a Fiesta.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Governor Depoy
        The Expedition would be the Bronco if it wasn't for O.J. making the name infamous.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I Say Kuga... It's not an escape and it doesn't look like an Escape... At least when Ford changed the Ford Five Hundred back to Taurus, it made sense because the ford Five Hundred had vintage Taurus cues... This Kuga looks nothing like the Escape and vs. The Kuga looks like it was designed for women. The escape looks like it was designed for men. period.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Caption reads "2008 Ford Kuga in front, possible 2011 Ford Kuga out back "
      What a load of BS! The "possible 2011 Kuga" is actually the 2006 Iosis X, which is the prototype version of the Kuga!
      • 5 Years Ago
      in my language Kuga means Plague. And Ford didn't change the name either
      • 5 Years Ago

      What many of you are failing to realize are the drastic differences between the two vehicles. This isn't a "new model" or "refresh". The only similarity the Kuga has to the Escape is the number of seats...and wheels. It is not like the 500/Taurus scenario, which were essentially like cars.

      So what you guys are saying is Jeep should make a car and call it a Jeep, then? Oh wait, we tried that didn't we....

      Brand loyalty works against you when the new model doesn't do what the old one does. Imagine a slow, but fuel-efficient corvette. Imagine a FWD Ford Ranger (cult truck for off-roaders).

      The Kuga is a good vehicle, with (I'm expecting) a good design. Let it sell itself on merit.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Escape need I say more? It has a good reputation going for it so far...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Escape is an SUV.

      Kuga is a CUV.

      End of discussion.
      • 5 Years Ago
      well in defence of the kuga name, people might hear "kuga" and think its something fresh and new from ford and will most likely want to check it out over hearing something like "the new escape" right?
      • 5 Years Ago
      They should go with Eskuga.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I hope they don't put the 3 bar grill on it like they plan to do with the Fiesta. I just got back from London and I current look of the Fiesta is better than the 3 bar theme us version in the pictures that I have seen. I did see quite a few Kuga in London. It looks great the way it is.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Call it the Escape. Then use the name "Kuga" as a high option, high profit trim level.

      Unless they already have another Escape under development that they haven't told us about.
      • 5 Years Ago

      I'll give you one good reason. Me. I bought a 2009 Escape. I like it. It's 6 months old, several thousand miles. It runs good. It gets excellent mileage. Nothing has broken. Nothing rattles. I expect when I trade it in a few years from now, it will have decent resale value. But if Ford discontinues the name, my resale value will suffer. And I'll be unhappy with what is a very good car! Ford definitely doesn't need that.

      Besides, how dumb a name can you find? Kuga? What's that? They may as well name it Camry, or Doofus or something? Meaningless.
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