Ford has debuted its new Vertrek Concept SUV at the NAIAS – the four-seater design shows the direction the company is looking to take as it works to move forward from the Escape and Kuga and offer a stylish, compact SUV it can place into the global market.

It’s a slightly bigger offering than the two existing vehicles – the Vertrek is longer, wider and has a longer wheelbase than the Escape and Kuga. Design-wise, the kinetic design shape contains elements such as a rather imposing lower trapezoidal grille, a panoramic roof that runs centrally from front to rear glass surfaces, slim headlamps and taillamps as well as a muscular-looking hood and rising beltline (with a rear kickup) that lends the shape more agression.

Inside, premium materials dominate, as does a swooping centre console and prominent centre stack that flows down a central bridge through the vehicle, and the seats, finished in tanned, velour leather feature neon red-orange highlights.

The concept in Detroit features a 1.6 litre Ford EcoBoost turbocharged direct injection engine, and previews Ford’s Auto Start-Stop system as well. For the US market, potential engine choices are the abovementioned pot – available in 180 hp and 150 hp form, the latter for the European market – as well as a 2.0 litre EcoBoost and a 2.5 litre four-cylinder block, all paired with a six-speed transmission, while outside the American market a 2.0 Duratorq TDCi turbodiesel is a candidate to join the 1.6 litre EcoBoost unit.

Aimed at city dwellers, not just in the American and European market but also those in China, the Vertrek plays it big on cargo-carrying ability consumers are looking for, but without forsaking levels of craftsmanship and quality often lost in compact SUVs.

Inside the sleek, modern shell is a generous cargo volume more than rivalling that of the Escape, at 828 litres for the boot area and 1,879 litres from the first row back, and against the European Kuga, it offers 20% more space at the rear and 15% more space from behind the first row on.

There’s plenty of tech on call with this one – a wide suite of customer-focused Ford technologies including SYNC, active park assist, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert and Intelligent Access with push-button start are featured in the Vertrek concept.

Gallery after the jump.

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