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.