A dramatic departure from the current model, Ford‘s new Vertrek Concept previews the next generation Escape crossover. Unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Vertrek trades the current model’s boxy SUV look for more stylish, though still aggressive, lines.
Based on the same architecture as the 2012 Ford Focus, the Vertrek will be a global vehicle, and is also set to replace the Kuga crossover in Europe. Overseas customers won’t be nearly so shocked with it’s design, as it more of an evolutionary change from the current Kuga.
But there’s more to this story than a new shape, with the Vertrek also sporting one of Ford’s new EcoBoost engines. Under the hood is a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder. This same engine has also just been revealed in the 2011 Ford C-Max, making 168-hp and 173 ft-lbs of torque. If Ford follows the same strategy as with the C-Max, look for a production model to get an equally-powerful 168-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder standard, with the EcoBoost version selling for a premium.
Helping to further improve fuel economy is Ford’s Auto Start-Stop system, that shuts off the engine at idle (like at a red light) and then starts it again when the driver lifts off the brake and goes to accelerate away. Ford claims this technology alone can improve fuel economy from 5 to 10 percent depending on the type of driving you do.
Yet another fuel-saving technology employed on the Vertrek is what Ford calls Smart Regenerative Charging, which works by only recharging the battery under braking, thereby reducing the drag on the engine (freeing up both horsepower and improving fuel economy) under acceleration. Both Auto Start-Stop and Smart Regenerative Charging will be offered on the next generation Ford Escape, as well as numerous other Blue Oval models starting in 2012.
While Ford hasn’t confirmed as much, the Vertrek will get some slight styling revisions and then head to market in the not-too-distant future as yet another model derived from the same platform as the Focus. In total, Ford is planning as many as 10 models for the U.S. that will ride on this shared structure.
The use of new ‘green’ technology and engines is a given and will help Ford attract plenty of customers, although unlike with many of Ford’s other products, the Vertrek represents a much larger gamble, moving away from the Escape that continues to be a top seller in the important and fast-growing compact crossover segment.
GALLERY: Ford Vertrek Concept
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