Ford’s popular Escape crossover is set to be replaced in 2012 with the European Kuga. Recent reports suggest, however, that this new model may keep the Escape badge. According to Ward’s Auto, several Ford dealers have commented that it would be a waste to do away with the Escape badge as it has excellent recognition in the market and as the Escape is one of Ford’s top sellers and has even given the Toyota RAV-4 a run for its money.
“I believe the Escape is a great vehicle with a great reputation and that it would be a big mistake to kill the Escape name,” Owen Mossy, general manager of San Diego-based Mossy Ford, told Ward’s.
Ford is likely to listen to its dealers, as a previous decision to drop the Taurus name in favor of the 500 proved disastrous for sales, which bounced back when the name was resurrected. The decision to bring back the Taurus name was that of CEO Alan Mulally, who took the helm at ford in 2006 and said that not using the Taurus name was wasting precious brand equity. We’d also argue that the old Tuarus/500 model had a lot more wrong with it than the name.
“I would doubt seriously that the company would repeat the lesson learned from the Taurus brand-equity position on any vehicle currently in our lineup, ” said Kevin Collins, president-Bill Collins Ford in Louisville.
The Kuga (or new Escape if you prefer) is set to be built in North America at the company’s Louisville, KY plant starting in 2011. The current European Kuga is based on the same architecture as the European Focus and C-Max MPV.
When the 2012 Escape does debut, expect front-drive and AWD versions, along with an EcoBoost 4-cylinder rather than a V6 option.