While Ford has seen fit to abandon its sedans and hatchbacks – at least in the United States – it’s been churning out SUVs at an unabated pace. Just three months after the Blue Oval introduced the all-new Explorer, the company has now unveiled the third generation of its midsize Kuga (known as the Escape in North America), with a whole host of new technologies and powertrains.

The new Kuga is the first SUV to ride on Ford’s new global C2 architecture, enabling a weight saving of up to 90 kg model for model whilst delivering greater interior space, improved crash performance, more efficient aerodynamics and a 10% increase in torsional rigidity.

With the new platform comes a new, more sculptural design language with simplified surfacing, taking a lot of inspiration from its sibling, the Focus. The longer wheelbase and bonnet, fast rear windscreen rake and lower roofline provide a more streamlined look, while the trapezoidal headlights and grille are part of Ford’s latest corporate identity. The tail lights are broader and feature L-shaped graphics.

As with the Focus and Fiesta, the European-market Kuga is now available in luxurious Vignale and sporty ST-Line variants. The former adds unique front and rear bumpers with a chrome mesh front grille and twin tailpipes, paired with satin aluminium accents on the roof rails, bumpers and side sill inserts. Inside, you’ll find Windsor quilted leather seats, a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel and premium velour floor mats.

The ST-Line, meanwhile, gains body-coloured cladding and a more aggressive front bumper with a black grille and triple downturned air intakes. At the rear, there’s a larger tailgate spoiler and a diffuser with gloss black highlights. Dark headlining, exclusive seat designs with contrasting red stitching, alloy pedals, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and ST-Line floor mats and scuff plates are thrown in.

The interior has been lifted almost wholesale from the Focus, with a horizontal dashboard design and a high-mounted eight-inch freestanding touchscreen. The latter is linked to Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, along with FordPass Connect that adds live traffic info, remote control of various features via a smartphone app and turns the car into a WiFi hotspot for up to 10 devices.

Elsewhere, the new 12.3-inch instrument display is claimed to be the first to use what Ford calls free-form technology, allowing it to be shaped differently from the usual rectangle. Other new features include Qi wireless smartphone charging, a head-up display, a 10-speaker, 575-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system and active noise cancellation.

Measuring 44 mm wider and 89 mm longer, with a 20 mm longer wheelbase, the Kuga gains 43 mm in shoulder room and 57 mm in hip room in front (20 mm and 36 mm respectively at the rear); despite being 20 mm lower, it also has 13 mm more headroom in front and 35 mm more at the back. The rear seats slide fore and aft to provide either a class-leading 1,035 mm of rear legroom or an additional 67 litres of boot space.

Speaking of which, the boot can be accessed via a handsfree opening tailgate and features a remote release for the folding rear seats and a reversible floor mat to prevent wet or muddy items from soiling the interior.

Safety-wise, the Kuga is available with the Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of driver assists, including Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Stop & Go, Speed Sign Recognition and Lane-Centring, and the new, combined Lane-Keeping System with Blind Spot Assist.

Also fitted are Evasive Steering Assist, Lane-Keeping Aid and Wrong Way Alert, plus adaptive headlights with auto high beam and a new Post-Collision Braking that applies moderate brake pressure after an accident to reduce injuries and further damage from a potential second collision. Active Park Assist 2 for parallel and perpendicular parking is also available.

Ford claims that the new Kuga is its most electrified product yet, with no less than three hybrid offerings. European and North American markets will share the parallel and plug-in hybrid versions, both utilising a 2.5 litre Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder petrol engine. The former adds an electric motor, a generator and a lithium-ion battery to deliver a total system output of 201 PS and a fuel consumption figure of 5.6 litres per 100 km.

The PHEV, meanwhile, packs a larger 14.4 kWh battery for a total of 225 PS and a targeted pure-electric range of over 50 km, plus an expected fuel consumption of just 1.2 litres per 100 km. Europe also gets a 48-volt mild hybrid variant that pairs the 150 PS version of Ford’s new 2.0 litre EcoBlue single-turbo diesel (the same one you’ll find on the Ranger) with a belt-driven integrated starter/generator (BISG) to deliver a fuel consumption figure of 5.0 litres per 100 km.

This EcoBlue oil burner is also available without the mild hybrid system, making 190 PS and delivering an anticipated 5.7 litres per 100 km in fuel consumption. A smaller 1.5 litre diesel produces 120 PS and allows for a fuel consumption figure of 4.8 litres per 100 km.

On the petrol side, there’s the 1.5 litre EcoBoost turbocharged three-cylinder with cylinder deactivation and either 120 PS or 150 PS in Europe and 182 PS in America. The latter also gets a 2.0 litre four-cylinder producing 253 PS. Regular and mild hybrid versions get an eight-speed automatic gearbox, with Europe also receiving the option of a six-speed manual. All-wheel drive is also offered as an option.

GALLERY: 2019 Ford Kuga (European market)


GALLERY: 2020 Ford Escape (US market)