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2020 Ford Kuga Revealed With Range Of Electrified Powertrain Options

2020 Ford Kuga Revealed With Range Of Electrified Powertrain Options

Ford doubles down on growing crossover demand across the pond

The crossover craze is a worldwide phenomenon, and Ford is capitalizing by introducing a brand-new generation for the Kuga crossover nameplate. Also known as the Escape in the U.S., the Ford Kuga is the Blue Oval’s best-selling SUV in Europe, and its third best-seller overall in the market after the Fiesta and Focus. Now, the latest 2020 model year brings a fresh third-generation, offering up new styling, an updated interior, the latest infotainment and safety tech, and critically, a selection of mild-hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and full-hybrid powertrains. However, with competition pouring in from the likes of Volkswagen, Peugeot, and Nissan, does the 2020 Ford Kuga have what it takes to compete?

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2017 Ford Escape

2017 Ford Escape

The long-anticipated next-generation Ford Escape has been official unveiled at the 2015 LA Auto Show. Totally revised with new looks, two new powertrains, and a slew of technology features that not only make the Escape a better crossover, but a more connected one. That will surely help drive sales in this day in age.

The new Escape hasn’t grown over the outgoing model, but does take plenty of styling details from its larger brother, the Edge. The trapezoidal grille leads into a more angular design with a more premium feel. The steeply raked windshield returns, allowing for plenty of forward visibility.

Inside, a more upscale cabin greets all five passengers. The driver now has the use of SYNC 3, Ford’s latest infotainment software. What’s more, the Escape is also debuting SYNC 3’s newest feature called SYNC Connect. Coming with a free, five-year subscription, SYNC Connect allows owners to remotely start, lock and unlock, monitor diagnostics, and track vehicle location from a securely connected smartphone.

Of course, the new Escape come with Ford’s modern assortment of safety systems, including the blind spot information system, hill-start assist, auto high-beam control, and the foot-operated rear tailgate. New for the Escape is adaptive cruise control, Enhanced Active Park Assist, Lane-Keeping System, and the Driver Alert System.

Updated 11/17/2015: Ford unveiled the 2017 Escape at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Ford Escape.

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2014 Ford Escape

2014 Ford Escape

Detail changes refine the best-selling Ford Escape for 2014, including a new backup camera and better towing compatibility when equipped with the clever foot-activated power tailgate. The biggest other change to celebrate? A price cut of over $1,000 on the sporty Titanium EcoBoost trim versus 2013.

Full (versus partial on 2013 and before) leather trim inside the Titanium specification is joined by a gigantic available moonroof and a new style of wheels, in what Ford calls 18-inch sparkle nickel painted aluminum.

The Escape still carries much of its concept-car style onto the roads even without the upgraded Titanium’s xenon and LED lights. The proportions are firmly modern but maintain a sense of adventure with tough plastic for the fenders as sills. Overall, this redesign of the previous boxy Escape is a large leap, perhaps two or three normal generations in a single bound.

As such, the tech underneath also matches the future-tech mission of the exterior styling. Three available engines and a twin-clutch automatic are at the very forefront of tech in the crossover space, where the RAV4 and CR-V still bumble along with dated four-bangers and thirsty transmission setups. Is there anything slower than a Honda driver on the phone?

The Escape’s appeal is very solid in the crossover market, even with a price range that can grow far larger than its budget rivals. In top specification, this is truly the thinking man’s Evoque: a mechanically identical sibling of the mini Range Rover, but for almost exactly half the price at all trim levels.

In the real world, is the Escape as sporty as the Mazda CX-5, or as big as the brand-new, 2014 Nissan Rogue that arrives at dealers in November?

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Ford Escape, including all the new colors and trim options to go along with the latest backup camera and SYNC technology.

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2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon

2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon

Ford’s little commercial vehicle that could, the Transit Connect, is completely fresh for 2014 with new styling, multiple length and roof sizes, and a new EcoBoost option. Another first is a seven-passenger MPV variant called the Transit Connect Wagon. The passenger model will be offered in short or long wheelbase configuration, arriving in U.S. dealers in October with prices expected to start in the $24,000 ballpark.

As useful as full-size vans are, even Ford’s brand-new, enormous 2014 Transit cargo van is not ideal for light commercial duties like doggie daycare pickup or flower delivery. Ford’s elderly E-series vans are equally unsuitable for dropping kids off at school - so the latest Transit Connect Wagon has a willing market among van-deprived Ford loyalists.

The Transit Connect Wagon is a five-seater in the short-wheelbase configuration, and up to a seven-seater on the longer length option. This is no compact car - the larger TC Wagon has a 121-inch wheelbase.

Both vans come with dual sliding doors and an available one-piece power tailgate preferred by moms. How does this hot new Ford stack up versus the Mazda5 or Nissan Quest?

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon, with a full image gallery of the exterior design and interior layouts.

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2014 Ford Explorer Sport

2014 Ford Explorer Sport

The 2014 Ford Explorer Sport is a welcome addition to the TopSpeed Garage with its racy 20-inch wheels and twin-turbocharged V-6 engine. Taurus SHO enhancements transform the Explorer package from just a family-friendly AWD seven-seater into a taut performance machine that is both fun to drive and luxurious on the road.

The $40,000 Sport comes in as the top Explorer trim level, and the only one to get the 365-horsepower 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine. Dozens of performance and luxury enhancements join the potent powerplant: a sport-tuned suspension, huge vented disc brakes with front and rear performance calipers, dark-tinted headlights and a gloss-black grille round out the exterior mods for this performance variant.

The changes extend indoors as well, where the Explorer Sport is the pick of the range with leather-trimmed, heated sports buckets up front. Standard MyFord Touch by Sony and a powerful stereo join the fun, as do illuminated scuff plates and custom Sport badging.

As one of the best-known Ford nameplates, the Explorer lost its coveted spot as the default midsize SUV over the early 2000s following the introduction of the BMW X5 and a host of other truly premium models.

This latest all-new generation of Explorer has evolutionary styling but a sophisticated unibody design to replace the old Explorer’s body-on-frame construction.

After years in the doldrums, the Explorer Sport’s engine brings the magic back with a globally-competitive crossover package that can comfortably seat seven people and deliver 22 mpg on the highway.

The turbo power of the Explorer Sport trim helps the Ford stand apart from the segment-leading Buick Enclave and Nissan Pathfinder – but is the Ford’s fun-to-drive nature enough to reclaim buyers seeking a premium seven-passenger crossover?

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Ford Explorer Sport, including a video walkthrough of the car’s interior at start up and during the 0-60 sprint.

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Ford Working on Bringing Carbon Fiber Body Panels into Mass Production

Ford Working on Bringing Carbon Fiber Body Panels into Mass Production

In the world of supercars, carbon-fiber body panels are old news and now carbon-fiber tubs are the new rage. Within the average car-buyer’s reach, carbon fiber anything is just about out the window. Well, Ford may have something to say about that in the future.

Currently Ford is working with the folks at Hightech.NRW to develop a carbon-fiber body panel development process that could revolutionize the construction of every car on the road. See, the reason carbon fiber is so expensive is because it takes many labor hours to build even the smallest piece. What Ford is working on is developing pieces in just a fraction of the time it currently takes, starting with constructing a Ford Focus hood in less than 15 minutes.

The main goal of this project is to ultimately reduce the weight of these panels by about 50 percent in an effort to lift fuel economy. A cool side effect of this process could possibly be the use of these panels on more high-performance Ford products, like the Mustang GT and the Ford Focus ST.

Ford’s plan is to lower the weight of its cars by upwards of 340 kg (749 lbs) by 2020. This would take a car like the Focus ST and suddenly drop its curb weight to as low as 2,300 lbs. That would jump it to an impressive-for-its-class 9.12 pound per horsepower. To boot, it would sharply increase its already stout 23 mpg city and 32 mpg highway.

Now, are there really 700-plus pounds of weight to be dropped from the Focus ST’s body? Likely not, but that gives us an idea of the benefits that this fuel-saving measure can have on us performance junkies. Ford does not plan on these panels being ready for use any time in the near future, but eventually they should be a part of Ford’s complete lineup. With the automotive world being a copycat-heavy realm, all of the other manufacturers will likely follow suit quickly.

Click past the jump to read Ford’s press release.

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Ford Uses a Robotic Touch to Make High-Quality Interiors

Ford Uses a Robotic Touch to Make High-Quality Interiors

In the early years of the automotive industry, the interior was simply somewhere to park your behind as you drove around. In the modern era, car interiors are becoming more like a second home, as they are now featuring climate control, TVs, huge sound systems, plush fabrics, and much more. Due to the constantly changing automotive world, automakers need to make sure that they are producing the best interiors possible, or risk losing sales to the competition.

Ford has taken this competition to a new level, as it is now using a robotic system to determine the quality of its cars’ interiors. This new robotic touch system is called Robotized Unit for Tactility and Haptics (RUTH). For those on the same vocabulary level as me and needing a more plain English description, this is a robot that uses sensors to determine the pain, pressure, or heat that a human’s skin would feel when touching something, which then turns that touch sensation into scalable data.

The above video shows Ford engineers describing RUTH as she touches and probes multiple points throughout the cabin of the all-new Ford Fusion. RUTH then uses data that Ford has collected from thousands of customers around the world and determines if the pieces it tests meet the collective wants of Ford buyers. From there, Ford engineers can adjust the texture, feel, softness, or even temperature of something in the cabin.

RUTH has been in commission in Ford North America since January 2012 and it looks like it is a complete success, at least according to the video. With advancements like this, it is easy to see why Ford was able to keep its head above water through the automotive recession.

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Ford Turns to "The People" to film the Focus ST Commercial

Ford Turns to "The People" to film the Focus ST Commercial

Ford is really banking on the Focus ST taking over where the Focus SVT left of in the U.S. market, and they went a rather creative way to grow its buzz even more. Ford needed a commercial introducing the ST as a performance hatchback to the U.S. market, so what better way than to set up a street race involving two Foci STs. This “street race” was held on closed roads and each car was driven by a professional driver, of course.

That was not the interesting part though, as Ford relied on customers to film the event for them. You’re reading that correctly; no camera crews, no sound team, no directors. Just two Focuses, hundreds of screaming fans and a whole bunch of cellphone cameras, digital cameras and likely a few pieces of professional equipment.

Not only is the commercial bad ass (you can see it above), but just the pure concept really got the public excited for the upcoming release of this high performance econo-hatch.

Of course, Ford did have a hand in editing the videos taken by the fans and we are certain the majority of the shots were taken by semi-professional cameramen with thousand dollar equipment, but some of them were obviously by handheld camcorders and digital cameras too.

Our favorite camera operator was a man sitting in the tree at the 0:35 mark in the video. He obviously didn’t get his shot into the commercial, but he gets a shiny gold star for effort. Good call Ford, good call indeed!

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Ford Fiesta RS Could Replace the Focus RS

Ford Fiesta RS Could Replace the Focus RS

When the head of Ford’s Special Vehicles Team (SVT) jetted for another opportunity at Volkswagen, Ford was left debating what to do with the popular RS line of vehicles, which we unfortunately have yet to see in the U.S. Up until recently, it has been pretty much a certainty that the Focus RS would simply carry on into its third generation, but according to Autocar, Ford is becoming a little indecisive since SVT’s recent shakeup.

Now Ford is starting to consider replacing the popular Focus RS with the Fiesta RS. The biggest reason for Ford’s reconsidering of the Focus RS is the fact that the newest generation of the Focus will not include a three-door hatchback, the staple body style for the RS line. The Fiesta, on the other hand, is available in a three-door hatchback in the European market, making it the obvious replacement.

It looks as if the RS might just make it to the U.S. market in this generation, as the other main part of the holdup on Ford’s decision is the fact that the U.S. market would likely prefer the larger and more powerful Focus RS over the compact Fiesta RS. That would give the U.S. market a nice group of performance compact Fords, regardless of the model it chooses. The Focus ST is already heading to the states and the Fiesta ST is in development, which will also likely come to the States. Add in the RS line and that gives us three hot Ford compacts to play around with.

We honestly think that given the recent market swing toward quick hatchback models, Ford would be best suited to get into that market early by handing the Fiesta the “RS” badge. If Ford manages to get into the hot-hatch market early enough with the Fiesta RS, it could benefit the entire Fiesta lineup in coming years.

We will continue to keep you updated on this growing story as more details emerge.

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Ford Shows off the 1.0-Liter EcoBoost Engine

Ford Shows off the 1.0-Liter EcoBoost Engine

So it is official, Ford has gone absolutely crazy with the EcoBoost trend, but it’s a good crazy, as the EcoBoost both lowers emissions and sharply increases fuel economy. The latest engine to spool its way into the EcoBoost lineup is the all-new 1.0-liter inline three-cylinder version. When most people think of a 1.0-liter three-banger, they tend to picture the early-1990s Metro with its concrete massaging 49 horsepower zipping it to 60 mph sometime in the next century, while driving downhill.

Fortunately, this isn’t your Metro’s three-cylinder engine. This boosted three-banger will pump out a respectable 98 horsepower on the base level and an even more impressive 125 horsepower on the top-level engine, the latter exceeding the current 1.6-liter’s output by 5 horsepower.

FEV, the leading developer for this engine, also claims that both versions of the engine will twist out 125 pound-feet of torque, which is 13 more pound-feet than the 1.6-liter engine and it saves 20 pounds worth of weight compared to the 1.6-liter.

The press release makes it a little unclear as to whether or not this new EcoBoost will be offered in the U.S., but given the fact that it mentions the 1.6-liter in a Focus, and it being offered in the C-Max and B-Max, we can assume that it will start off in the U.K., as the B-Max and C-Max are U.K. models, and the Focus only comes with the 1.6-liter in the U.K. . Granted, the C-Max is coming to the U.S., but as a hybrid model only.

With the power output of this engine, you can expect to see it making its way over here soon. The likely host for it would be the Ford Fiesta, as it is more accepted with a smaller engine. Focus buyers would generally not accept a 1.0-liter-powered model.

We will continue to keep an eye on this and let you know if Ford makes mention of it coming to the U.S. or not.

Click past the jump to read FEV’s full press release

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