Will Ford Jump on the Performance SUV Bandwagon?
The company could be open to it given the current climate of the SUV marketby Robert Moore, on
We have this undying love for SUVS – so much so that the market has been flooded in recent years and you can’t step outside your front door without seeing at least three in most areas. But, we also have a love for performance and large output figures, and that’s why the performance SUV market is slowly starting to take a hold. Just because your daily driver is big and bulky doesn’t mean it can’t be fast too, right? Well, we’re starting to see a number of models. Think about the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT or the Dodge Durango SRT. Or, how about Audi’s SQ5 and SQ7 SUV, and Porsches rang-topping versions of the Macan and Cayenne? These are all SUVS or crossovers that have the credentials of a performance vehicle. Well, now it looks like Ford is considering jumping into the high-performance SUV pool as well.
That’s right; in an interview with Car Dealer Magazine in the U.K., Ford’s performance Chief, Dave Pericak, all but confirmed that an RS-badged SUV could be in the blue oval’s future. When asked specifically about it, Pericak said, “I think customers love performance. I think the definition of what that means for an SUV might be different than what it means for a Focus or for a Fiesta. But I think that we’ve seen, even in the US and globally, that people like aggressive-looking cars, they like sporty, they want the power and pick-up and engine improvement, so I think the answer is yes. SUV customers would appreciate performance, for sure.”
So, it’s quite possible that we could see an RS-badged Ford SUV sometime in the coming years, but what model will it be? Keep reading to hear our predictions and learn a little more about it.
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The Likely Candidates
Car Dealer Magazine suggested the first RS-badged Ford SUV would be the Ford Kuga, also known as the Ford Escape here in the U.S. That’s currently Ford’s cheapest and smallest SUV in the lineup and goes for, at the time of this writing, $23,750. But, I’m also looking at Ford’s lineup, and the new Explorer is one of the best looking SUVs the brand has right now, so an Explorer RS could be ideal. And, it would be able to compete with models like the Grand Cherokee SRT (or the hellcat-powered version in the future) and the Durango SRT. It could even compete with more luxurious models like the SQ5 or the Porsche Macan if Ford did it right.
In the end, the SUV would have to be to the SUV segment what the Focus RS is to the hot hatch segment. It needs to be powerful, sporty, and feature a number of unique features not found in the brand’s non-RS models. And, you can’t deny that the Explorer might look really good lowered an inch or two with a more aggressive front end, and 400 to 500 horsepower under the hood. At the same time, Pericak also called out the rest of the performance SUV market, in a sense, saying:
“If you look at the SUV market right now, there aren’t too many credible performance SUVs out there,’ he said. ‘There are people who have made partial attempts at it, and there are different things that have happened, but there are no real credible ones. So, I think that’s an area of some opportunity, for sure.
That sounds a little delusional to me, considering models like the new Durango SRT and Grand Cherokee SRT are both plenty powerful and performance oriented, but hopefully that will fuel a fire that results in Ford developing its best SUV to date, and one that comes with plenty of power on tap. What Ford SUV would you like to see sport an RS badge? Let us know in the comments section below.
Read our full review on the Ford Focus RS here.
Source: Car Dealer Magazine