Just over a year after revealing the facelifted Escape in the US, Ford has now revealed an update for the European-built version recently discontinued in Australia.

    The Spanish-built Ford Kuga, which was sold here as the Escape during this current generation, receives a range of updates in line with the US-built Escape, plus some unique ones.

    For starters, there’s a new Active variant that boasts a more rugged look, with unique front and rear bumpers and more plastic cladding. It also sits slightly higher at 1683mm, or 4mm higher than the Titanium.

    It has a different look to the US-market Active, which is merely the base model there. As with the US Escape, there’s a sportier looking ST-Line that sits lower, but the range is topped with a Titanium trim instead of a Platinum; the old Vignale has been axed.

    The European ST-Line has a unique front bumper treatment from its US counterpart, with distinctive C-shaped chrome elements.

    All models get a larger 13.2-inch touchscreen running Ford’s Sync4 infotainment system, with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto plus Amazon Alexa connectivity.

    All physical climate controls have been moved to the touchscreen, though buttons previously found on the centre console have been moved to the centre stack.

    Accessible via the touchscreen is a new Trailer Tow Navigation function, which allows you to enter the dimensions of the car and your trailer so that the navigation can select a route avoiding tight turns, low bridges and other obstacles.

    The adaptive cruise control can also now apply the brakes automatically for curves and junctions.

    Sitting next to the new, larger touchscreen is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. Depending on the variant, available equipment includes a B&O sound system, hands-free power tailgate, panoramic sunroof, head-up display, wireless phone charger, and Ford’s Dynamic Pixel LED headlights with Adaptive Front Lighting.

    Safety equipment includes blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, lane centring, predictive speed assist, rear cross-traffic alert, a surround-view camera, and traffic sign recognition.

    As before, there’s a range of petrol, hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains.

    The base turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine produces 150kW of power and 240Nm of torque, and is mated with a six-speed manual transmission.

    The hybrid uses a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine mated with an electric motor and a 1.1kWh lithium-ion battery. Total system outputs are 132kW in front-wheel drive guise and 135kW with newly available all-wheel drive.

    Finally, the plug-in hybrid also uses a 2.5-litre four, albeit with a larger 14.4kWh lithium-ion battery. It has a total system output of 179kW, and claimed WLTP electric-only range of between 60 and 69km.

    Ford says it has improved acceleration for the electrified Escapes, with 0-100km/h times of 9.1 seconds for the hybrid (8.3 seconds when equipped with all-wheel drive) and 7.3 seconds for the plug-in hybrid.

    There’s no version of the 1.5T with an eight-speed automatic, nor is there a more powerful 2.0-litre turbo as can be found in the US-market Escape. The latter was the base engine in the Australian-market Escape.

    All-wheel drive models have independent rear suspension, while front-wheel drive models stick with a twist-beam rear axle.

    The updated US-market Escape was revealed back in October 2022 and with the European-market Kuga now having been revealed, that leaves only the updated Chinese-market remaining. As before, we expect a slightly different appearance for that model.

    Ford Australia announced in April 2023 it was discontinuing the Escape range, though it didn’t specify a reason other than to note supply has been an issue.

    “We don’t make those nameplate decisions and those brand decisions lightly. We go through a very rigorous process, with multiple factors that go into making those decisions,” Ford Australia boss Andrew Birkic told media. “We believe now is the right time.”

    MORE: Everything Ford Escape
    MORE: 2023 Ford Escape review

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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