Although we'll have to wait until the LA Auto Show next month to see how much the redesigned 2013 Ford Escape resembles the good-looking Vertrek concept (shown above), the company has happily unveiled the unconventional under-the-hood changes the SUV will see at launch next year.
Specifically, it will be the first SUV to be offered in the United States with nothing but small four-cylinder engines, and the first vehicle in Ford's lineup to have two turbocharged EcoBoost engine options.
While other automakers are embracing hybrid technology as a solution across their lineups, Ford has decided they can make fuel efficient small SUVs more affordable by ditching the hybrid altogether. After all, as the company's Vice President for Global Product Development, Derrick Kuzak, told reporters during a press conference, fuel efficient cars can only make an impact if more people can buy them.
Offering nothing but four-cylinder engines may sound like an underpowered endeavor to many consumers, but by ditching the V6 format altogether Ford says they haven't compromised on performance.
The four-cylinder choices will include a base 2.5-liter engine as well as two turbocharged engines. These two direct injected EcoBoost engines-a 2.0-liter and a 1.6-liter-are already found on vehicles in Europe, but the 2013 Escape will mark their debut in the U.S.
While specific numbers are still a ways off, Kuzak told reporters that the 1.6-liter engine is expected to return better highway fuel economy than the current Ford Escape Hybrid, which is rated at 31 mpg, yet will provide more horsepower and better performance. The 2.0-liter is also expected to return as much as thirty percent better fuel economy than a comparable V6, yet be equivalent in performance and towing capacity. The EcoBoost engines will be available in both front-wheel and all-wheel drive configurations, Kuzak confirmed.
To this point, Ford's EcoBoost engines have seen incredible consumer acceptance. Already available on vehicles such as the Ford F-150 and Flex as a way to replace conventional V8 engines with more efficient turbocharged V6's, and now also launching on the Edge and Explorer SUVs, Ford has sold more than 100,000 EcoBoost-equipped vehicles to this point. In fact, the 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine now accounts for more than forty-one percent of all F-150 sales.
Kuzak said Ford is still committed to the hybrid platform, but thinks the technology fits better in smaller vehicles, such as the upcoming five-passenger 2013 C-Max Hybrid and plug-in hybrid C-Max Energi, where it can deliver more than 40 miles per gallon when driving on gasoline power alone. Those two vehicles are expected to fill the niche that the outgoing Escape Hybrid will vacate, although the C-Max isn't available in all-wheel drive.