Ford has debuted the 2013 Ford Escape at the Los Angeles Auto Show – the SUV enters the North American market next year in both front-wheel and 4WD guise, with three four-cylinder powertrain choices to pick from – a normally-aspirated 2.5 litre as well as 2.0 and 1.6 litre EcoBoost versions.

The new Escape will also feature globally – it will be known as the Ford Kuga in Europe and China, with unique powertrains and features for those markets. Set to make its international debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March, the vehicle is slated to be introduced in China next spring.

In terms of outputs, the 2.5 litre NA unit will offer 168 hp and 226 Nm, while the 2.0 EcoBoost will have 237 hp and 338 Nm, and the 1.6 EcoBoost 173 hp and 240 Nm. All three engine choices are mated to a SelectShift Automatic six-speed, which for the EcoBoost mills are specially calibrated. The gearbox features revised gear ratios and a new torque converter for improved driving feel and smoother shifts.

The vehicle features more cargo volume behind the first and second rows than the outgoing Escape, and Ford says that it has driving dynamics that make the drive experience more engaging on-road, with a new Ford Intelligent 4WD System providing even better traction off-road. It’s also nearly 10% more aerodynamic than the current Escape, as well as 20% stiffer in terms of overall body structure.

Inside the cabin, improved materials and execution highlight the interior, and the list includes a soft-touch instrument panel, wrapped, padded and stitched door armrests and the elimination of exposed fasteners in the glove box and sun visor pivots, among others. Versatility in cargo carrying continues the roll – the car has an available two-position load floor, which can be configured to allow the choice of maximum luggage volume or a flat load floor.

Among the tech features is a hands-free power liftgate that allows quick and easy access to the cargo hold. The liftgate is enabled by motion technology – a gentle kicking motion under the centre of the rear bumper activates, unlocks and raises the liftgate when the driver has the Escape key fob, allowing quick and easy access to the cargo area without needing to set down packages or dig out keys. The same process closes the hatch.

Elsewhere, there’s a panorama Vista sunroof, active park assist, a sensor-based Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert, SYNC with MyFord Touch in the mix, as well as an enhanced Personal Safety System with new safety belt technologies and seven airbags.

A host of exterior colours abound, led by Ginger Ale, an earthy metallic tone. There’s also Ruby Red, White Platinum Tricoat, Frosted Glass Metallic, Deep Impact Blue and Kodiak Brown, along with Tuxedo Black, Sterling Gray Metallic, Ingot Silver Metallic and Oxford White.