We Americans have a long history of clamoring for the forbidden fruit that automakers offer in Europe. Such has been the case with the Ford Kuga crossover – the cuter equivalent of the more traditionally styled Escape here in North America. But under the automaker's One Ford plan, the products offered across the pond are now nearly identical to what's being sold here, and because of this, the all-new 2013 Escape ditches its boxy styling and decidedly rugged good looks for something a little more... kinetic.

There was something appealing about the old Escape's mini-SUV styling.

Love it or hate it, the 2013 Escape – previewed by the Vertrek concept from this year's Detroit Auto Show – takes much of its design inspiration from the 2012 Focus. The large, trapezoidal lower grille, the wraparound design of the taillamps and even the alloy wheels are further interpretations of the Focus formula. And while the sexy lead image you see above makes the Escape look all tough and handsome, truth be told, we're not sure if we love it. We've seen the new Escape in person and it still strikes us as a bit too... Focused. Call us old school, but there was something appealing about the mini-SUV styling of the old Escape.

What aren't old school, however, are the new suite of engines that Ford is offering in its compact CUV. The standard engine is a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder, which produces 168 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. Next up is an all-new 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder with 173 hp and 177 lb-ft on tap, and the range-topping engine is the 2.0-liter EcoBoost that boasts 237 hp and 250 lb-ft. All of these powerplants are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and with the 2.0-liter underhood, the Escape is capable of towing up to 3,500 pounds. Depending on the engine, Ford says that the new Escape is up to five miles per gallon more efficient than the outgoing model, though official EPA numbers (or estimates) have not been released at this time. Front-wheel drive is standard, but buyers can opt for a new intelligent all-wheel-drive system, as well.

Inside, there's a host of the latest Ford technology, including the newly revamped MyFord Touch infotainment system. As for design, there's a ton of Focus influence in the Escape's cabin, though the layout of the center stack is cleaner and better organized than the one in the smaller Focus. There are plenty of other convenience features on the new Escape, as well, including active park assist and a hands-free liftgate system.

There's a lot to like about the 2013 Ford Escape, and we'll be curious to see what the sales numbers look like when the crossover hits dealers early next year. The "old" model is selling better than ever, so the all-new Escape has serious shoes to fill. Be sure to scroll through our attached high-res image gallery to see the Escape from all angles, and follow the jump for the official press blast. We'll have more impressions live from the LA Auto Show later today.
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All-New Ford Escape: Smarter Utility Vehicle Saves Customers Fuel, Money; New Technologies to Make Owners' Lives Easier

• Ford's newest sport utility vehicle (SUV) arrives next year, bringing clever technologies and features designed to make life easier, and fuel economy projected to top any vehicle of its kind on the market

• Versatile vehicle features new hands-free technology – including liftgate with motion-sensing technology similar to video games' and upgraded MyFord Touch® system that makes connecting with digital devices on the go even easier

• New Escape's projected fuel economy is up to 5 mpg better than outgoing Escape; 1.6- and 2.0-liter EcoBoost® engines save customers fuel and money

• Customers globally will start seeing this sleek small SUV next year, too. Named the Ford Kuga in Europe and China, this vehicle makes its international debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March and will offer unique powertrains and features for customers in those markets

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 16, 2011 – The Ford Escape, America's best-selling SUV, will raise the bar even higher with the debut of an all-new model that features 11 new exclusive features and fuel economy projected to top any vehicle of its kind on the market today.

"We call our all-new Ford Escape the 'Smarter Utility Vehicle' because it offers the strengths that customers today really value – fuel economy, versatility and new technology that makes driving and living with the vehicle easier and more fun – all wrapped in a sleek, more modern design," said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. "Ford understands that more people every year are looking at vehicles like Escape, and we want to give them even more reasons to buy."

Sixty percent of Americans shopping for a vehicle next year will look at either a midsize car or small SUV, making Escape part of one of the most cross-shopped and fastest-growing segments in the auto industry.

"Escape is America's best-selling utility vehicle, and the Ford team has worked hard to make sure we deliver even more of what small SUV owners really want," Kuzak said.

In addition to more cargo volume behind the first and second rows than today's vehicle, the new Escape delivers:

• Eleven features no other small SUV offers
• Clever technologies that make Escape even more versatile, including an available hands-free power liftgate that allows quick and easy access to cargo with the kick of a foot
• Projected best fuel economy of any compact SUV, up to 5 mpg better than previous Escape
• Driving dynamics that make the drive experience more engaging on-road and a new Ford Intelligent 4WD System that provides even better traction off-road
• Sleek new design, with better interior materials and more finishing touches

Escape technology makes life better

An array of clever technologies adds to the new Escape's versatility, helping make life easier for its owners. Key features include:

• An available hands-free power liftgate brings new technology to the SUV market and is enabled by motion technology used in today's video game systems. A gentle kicking motion under the center of the rear bumper activates, unlocks and raises the liftgate when the driver has the Escape key fob. This allows quick and easy access to the cargo area without needing to set down packages or dig out keys. The same process closes the hatch

• SYNC® with MyFord Touch® offers multiple ways for customers to manage and control information through voice commands, menus accessed through controls on the steering wheel, touch screens, buttons or knobs. Upgraded system includes new look, making phone, navigation, entertainment and climate controls even easier to use

• Parallel parking the Escape is virtually stress-free with active park assist. With the press of a button, the system detects an available parallel parking space and automatically steers the vehicle into the space. Drivers control only the gas and brake pedals

• Maneuvering parking lots and traveling open roadways becomes even safer and less stressful with Escape's sensor-based BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert. BLIS sounds an alert when a vehicle is detected entering a blind spot. Cross-traffic alert warns if traffic is detected approaching from the sides, such as when Escape is leaving a parking space in reverse

• The all-new Ford Escape is the first Ford SUV to combine class-exclusive technology to automatically slow the vehicle when it's cornering too fast (Curve Control) or help accelerate through a turn (Torque Vectoring Control); a new Intelligent 4WD System helps deliver outstanding handling on pristine pavement and in adverse conditions as well, along with excellent traction off-road

Spirited performance with outstanding fuel economy

Escape offers Ford's broadest nameplate range of EcoBoost® engine choices yet. Strong fuel economy comes from either the available 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine or 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine, which makes its American debut in the new Escape.

Both new engines combine EcoBoost's core technologies of direct fuel injection and turbocharging and add twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) to deliver even better miles per gallon and save customers money on fuel.

In Escape, EcoBoost engines are mated to specially calibrated, six-speed SelectShift Automatic™ transmissions, which are standard and allow drivers who want more hands-on experiences to manually control gear selection from a switch on the left-hand side of the shifter.

The gearbox features a new torque converter for improved driving feel, silky smooth shifts and even better fuel economy. Engineers also installed revised gear ratios for a balanced driving feel in all situations.

The standard engine in North America is an updated 2.5-liter, giving the new Escape a comprehensive lineup of four-cylinder offerings. It also is matched to a SelectShift Automatic six-speed.

Also aiding fuel economy is Escape's sleeker design. The new model is nearly 10 percent more aerodynamic than the outgoing model.

Plus, the new Escape's active grille shutter system, which is on all models with the 1.6-liter EcoBoost and 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines, reduces wind resistance. Grille slats stay open when extra engine cooling air is required, such as low-speed stop-and-go driving. When cruising on the highway at steady speeds, the grille slats automatically close to improve aerodynamics and fuel efficiency.

Versatility and capability come standard

Stowing and towing are even easier in the new five-passenger Escape, thanks to a low liftover height of 27 inches, more innovations and cargo volume that surpasses the outgoing Escape – with 68.1 cubic feet of space behind the first row and 34.3 cubic feet behind the second row.

The new Escape's rear seats have been designed to fold flat easily. With the touch of a button, the head restraint folds down and with the lift of a handle on the seat, the seatback folds and dives as the seat folds flat and clicks into position.

Escape also features an available two-position load floor, which can be configured to allow the customer to choose among maximum luggage volume or flat load floor.

When properly equipped, the all-new Escape maintains a trailer tow rating of 3,500 pounds.

Engaging driving performance through seamless system

Using new advanced software and sensors, the new Intelligent 4WD System analyzes data from 25 external signals, including wheel speed, accelerator pedal position and steering wheel angle, assessing road conditions and driver input 20 times faster than the blink of an eye.

The system uses all the sensor inputs to turn the vehicle in the direction the driver wants it to go. Intelligent 4WD builds on the pre-emptive actions by adding and subtracting torque as needed through an electromagnetic clutch.

New SUV goes global

Following its world debut in Los Angeles, this new vehicle will head to Europe, where sales of compact sport utilities have grown 200 percent since 2000. It will be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March for European customers as the all-new version of the Ford Kuga and will have unique powertrains and features. Chinese customers also will see the all-new Kuga next spring.

"This all-new Ford model opens a new chapter in the world of SUVs," Kuzak said. "By being smarter, this utility vehicle will give customers around the globe find better, easier ways to connect with technology, maximize fuel efficiency and find the versatility and capability they need and want."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Don G
      • 3 Years Ago
      Must we have the Escalade / Pep-Boys Fender Vent on the side? Looks just as cheesy as all of the old expeditions, suburbans, etc that have them plastered all over the side.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Don G
        I agree. Those side fake side vents are so downmarket. A sign of someone tryng to hard to be "premium" You'd think todays modern auto designers would nix those tacky things. Please do away with these cheesy, cheap, non functional pieces of ornamentation.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Son, I am disappoint. We owned a first gen Escape V6. Loved the little thing, but we traded it in for a Focus ZX3 for better gas mileage. Then the new ones (current ones) came out with a 4 cyl, and we almost bought one again. Love the look of the current boxy one. However, we got a new 4 cyl Ranger instead (cheap!) This one looks like everything else out there. And as a HUUUGE Focus fan, I don't even like the new one - an this just looks like a frumpier version of it that sites higher up.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I've often wondered how far Ford would go with its "One Ford" philosophy and how far Americans would be prepared to accept it. Certainly Ford's smaller European models, such as the Transit Connect, Fiesta and Focus have been well received and experienced mainly positive US reviews. But how this second-generation Kuga will translate into the new Escape for North American shores is more debatable in a market where the term "SUV" usually implies a boxier, more rugged design.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think it looks great. I get a hint of Tiguan from the front and a strong sense of Santa Fe from the rear, but they both work for me. And I love the 2.0T my wife has in her 9-3, so I kind of hoped to replace it with something similar. So if they price this right for the content, it will be between this and the Kia Sportage SX.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wow, when I was shopping for my current Escape I made sure to try all the crossovers at that time. Tried the kia sorento, rav4, crv, and the hundai santa fe. Honestly, I could not see myself in any of those vehicles because they looked too much like a car. I needed something that could get me up skiing, camping, and mtn biking in remote areas and didn’t cost as much as an explorer. The “SUV” look is what ultimatly sold me on this model and it seems that they are now taking that away. For me, the new design looks just like its asian competitors. I’m crossing my fingers that I can afford something better looking when it comes time to buy another vehicle… wow!
      Sana Khan
      • 3 Years Ago
      The compact SUV segment is the only segment where Ford Australia offers an inferior product. This car will certainly fix that! http://bit.ly/s8sa6a
      • 3 Years Ago
      WOW! Now that is a good looking small SUV. I can't believe some here actually prefer the current model.
        • 3 Years Ago
        i agree. this styling is WAY better than the old bland & boxy design. at least this actually looks like a ford. not just an american only ford
          • 3 Years Ago
          Please tell me how the current Escape does not look liek a Ford. After all, it mimicked its most popular brother, the Explorer.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Another reason not to waste your money on a cute-ute from Asian manufacturers. Bravo Ford!
        • 3 Years Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wow Ford you just ruined one of your best-selling vehicles. The non-cute-ute styling of the Escape was the number 1 thing that made it stand apart from the CRV's and RAV4's of the world. It was the defining characteristic of the Escape brand. Now you have just another ovoid, silly-looking crossover thing. It reminds me of what Ford did with their second generation Taurus. Repeating past mistakes.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Considering that the current Focus is styled in the same vein and is selling well, your comment, comparing this to the second gen Taurus, doesn't make sense.
          Dean Hammond
          • 3 Years Ago
          Len....what is not being discussed is the one reason the "old" Escape is selling like hot cakes, and something Ford is trying to get away from....$1000 rebate with 0%....I would estimate subsidizing those incentives is equivilent to ford coughing up 5-6 k per 2012 Escape sold....not exactly profotable is it?
          Dean Hammond
          • 3 Years Ago
          thx for the vote down Mr True Voice....interesting you voting down some "truth"......hilarious!
      • 3 Years Ago
      That's right, just what we want - yet another Camry-esque homologized vehicle roaming the suburbs of America. Way to go Ford. You've done it again. God damn it...
      • 3 Years Ago
      are you ppl fcking kidding me? if this looks ugly to you, then thats the whole reason why we can never get the beautifully designed world cars that everyone else gets. ie; the REAL gen2 mazda6 vs the big ugly americanized version. IMO this looks great and I would actually buy this car. The old escape had no appeal factor whatsoever.
        • 3 Years Ago
        No appeal? People like rugged, squarish looks. No one asked for the SUV to look like a car, they just asked for better fuel economy. After looking at other media than just these pics, and even before I see it in person, the exterior of this vehicle is a huge disappointment. Europe can keep this crap, I will take a current Escapes looks over this anyday.
          • 3 Years Ago
          "No one asked for the SUV to look like a car, they just asked for better fuel economy." Hey genius, getting rid of vertical front ends, boxy proportions and upright windshields has a direct correlation to fuel economy. It's this thingee called aerodynamics. You should look it up. I hear wikipedia has some good articles on stuff like that. Personally, I love it. The old Escape looked dated. And I bet this is just as capable offroad as the previous one ever was. It certainly looks like it's not hurting for ground clearance.
          • 3 Years Ago
          Boxy does not mean it cannot be fuel efficient. Look it up genius.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Could not agree more! I too would buy this, and in fact I think I will.
      • 3 Years Ago
      wow what an enormous leap from the previous gen escape... which is a very good thing.
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