Ford Australia will axe the Kuga badge and rename its medium-sized SUV the Escape when the updated line-up arrives in 2017, spearheaded by the addition of a front-wheel drive mid-spec variant.
Introduced to Australia in 2012, the second-generation Kuga has sat beneath the now-discontinued Territory and above the Ecosport in Ford's SUV line-up. It's also been called the Kuga in many other markets including Europe and South Africa, but badged as Escape in the US.
Now the US-market name has been chosen to represent the mid-size SUV globally, which will see the moniker return to our shores after initially being worn by the first-generation Escape from 2001-12.
When the new Escape arrives in Australia in January 2017, the entry fee for the Trend specification will be lowered by $8400 with buyers being able to purchase the mid-grade for the first time as a front-wheel drive with a 1.5-litre petrol engine for $28,490.
Front-wheel drive versions of the Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5 have proven immensely popular with Australian buyers, but until now Ford has only be able to offer a two-wheel drive Kuga in the base Ambiente specification.
Along with the new name the SUV line-up will arrive with revised styling and a more efficient 2.0-litre engine.
Ford Australia product communications manager Damion Smy said the new variant will allow Ford to properly take on its rivals at the popular mid-spec level.
"We've removed all the barriers to success," Smy said. "We've offered a stronger product in a competitive market."
Along with the new name the SUV line-up will arrive with revised styling and a more efficient 2.0-litre engine thanks to the addition of a stop/start system.
When the new Escape arrives it will take its place above the EcoSport. With production of the Territory having ended on October 7, the Escape will sit under the new Edge SUV which according to Ford will arrive a year after final stocks of the Territory run out.
Will the Escape be more appealing than a Kuga to you? Tell us what you think in the comments below.