Australia could miss out on Ford’s rival to the popular Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

    Ford Europe has added a second electrified option to its mid-size Escape SUV line-up (known overseas as the Kuga), in the form of the Kuga Hybrid.

    Similar in concept to the ever-popular Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, the Kuga Hybrid has a similar 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine and electric motor to the Escape PHEV, but runs with a smaller 1.1kWh lithium battery that’s charged exclusively by the engine or regenerative braking.

    Despite the growing sales volume of hybrid vehicles in Australia, Ford’s local division isn’t committing to bringing an Escape Hybrid just yet.

    “While we have no local plans for the Escape/Kuga Hybrid to share today, we always look to the best of our global portfolio for vehicles that suit the emerging needs of Australian customers,” said a Ford Australia spokesperson.

    Outputting 140kW, the Kuga Hybrid is a little less powerful than the plug-in hybrid (167kW) and offers the option of all-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive is standard in Europe.

    A CVT automatic is also mated to the petrol engine, which Ford claims simulates the ‘gear changes’ of conventional automatic transmissions in Normal and Sport modes “for greater driver engagement” and to reduce the rubber-band effect associated with these transmissions.

    While most hybrid and plug-in hybrid press releases centre around the reduction in fuel economy and emissions, Ford Europe is giving a lot of attention to the Kuga Hybrid’s driving range, which is claimed to rival equivalent diesel vehicles.

    The hybrid SUV claims to use 5.4L/100km on the combined WLTP cycle, Ford reckons the Kuga Hybrid can travel around 1000 kilometres per fill of its 54-litre tank. As Big Shaq would say – “quick maffs”.

    Ford doesn’t claim electric driving range from the teeny-tiny battery, but it does quote a 0-100km/h time of 9.1 seconds for the Kuga Hybrid with front-wheel drive. The petrol-electric Kuga is also rated to tow a maximum of 1600kg.

    The Kuga Hybrid joins the Kuga Plug-In Hybrid (coming to Australia as the Escape ST-Line PHEV in late-2021), and the 48V mild-hybrid versions of the Kuga already on sale in Europe.

    Like the PHEV, the self-charging hybrid powertrain will be available across all trim levels in Europe.

    The Ford Escape PHEV was initially meant to reach Australian showrooms before the end of 2020, but has since been delayed by around 12 months to late-2021 as the company rushes to fix battery issues that have caused fires in Europe and the US.

    Regardless of when it actually launches, the Escape ST-Line PHEV will be Ford Australia’s first electrified vehicle, offering up to 50 kilometres of electric range.

    Stay tuned to CarExpert for all the latest, and let us know if you’d like to see the Escape Hybrid in Australia in the comments below.

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    James Wong

    James Wong is the Production Editor at CarExpert based in Melbourne, Australia. With experience on both media and manufacturer sides of the industry, James has a specialty for product knowledge which stems from a life-long obsession with cars. James is a Monash University journalism graduate, an avid tennis player, and the proud charity ambassador for Drive Against Depression – an organisation that supports mental wellness through the freedom of driving and the love of cars. He's also the proud father of Freddy, a 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI .

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