What is it?
The compact SUV segment is one of the biggest and most competitive in the market, with entries ranging from the Toyota RAV4 to the Chevrolet Equinox in the US. Ford's Escape has always been a solid and reliable performer, but one trading charm and comfort for yeoman functionality.
The redesigned Escape, virtually identical to the Kuga that Europeans will get, is a very different animal. As the latest model to be transformed by the company's 'One Ford' product strategy, it now shares the same platform as the Focus and C-Max, albeit stretched by four inches.
What's it like?
Compared with the previous, truck-like Escape, the new SUV is a bit lower, permitting Ford designers to sculpt a much more appealing body, more in line with the firm's current car range. Nose on, it is now more hot hatch than bluff 4x4, with a sweeping, almost coupé-like curve to the roofline while still maintaining good visibility.
Even more impressive is the way Ford has reworked the cabin. That's particularly noteworthy for Europeans used to the drab and somewhat confined cabin of the old Kuga. The new model is not only more spacious but also decidedly upmarket; our Titanium edition was finished in leather, with accents of chrome and piano black, making it easy to forget this is a 'utility' vehicle.