Higher-Performance Ford Escape ST Not Coming: Exclusive

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The SUV is booming. No matter if it’s a “true” body-on-frame bruiser or a unibody crossover, the understanding that car buyers are very much interested in a vehicle with a raised roof, higher ground clearance and a healthy cargo compartment – commonly called the SUV – is undeniable. To that end, Ford has been busy with what it calls “reinventing” the car – discontinuing cars like the Fiesta, Focus and Taurus (the Fusion is next on the chopping block), while expanding its utility/SUV portfolio with such models as the upcoming Bronco and Bronco Sport. However, one model – a high-performance variant of the popular Escape crossover – won’t be part of Ford’s aforementioned reinvention.

Sources familiar with FoMoCo product plans told Ford Authority that a performance-oriented version of the Ford Escape – one that would be more colloquially known as a Ford Escape ST – is not part of Ford’s product plans, despite rumors to the contrary about a year ago. The same holds true for the Kuga – the nameplate Ford uses to market the Escape in various international markets, such as Europe.

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That means that the 2.0L EcoBoost I-4 – rated at 250 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque – will remain the most powerful engine in the all-new, 2020 Ford Escape product line. It also means that those hoping to replace their Focus ST with a similarly-sized Ford crossover will be forced to look elsewhere.

There is some consolation for those residing outside the Americas, specifically in markets where The Blue Oval offers the Ford Puma. In most of those areas, Ford will soon offer a sporty Puma ST, which is rumored to derive around 200 horsepower and 215 pound-feet of torque from the 1.5L EcoBoost I-3 engine – the same small-yet-capable mill that powers the current-generation Fiesta ST in Europe. In the upcoming Puma ST, the peppy three-cylinder with will be coupled with a more sporty suspension setup, resulting in quite a fun small SUV. Neither the Puma nor the upcoming Puma ST are destined for the Americas.

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A prototype of the upcoming Ford Puma ST catches some air while testing at the Nurburgring

Those who desire a sporty Ford crossover in North America will have to make their way up to one of the automaker’s larger and more premium ST crossover products – the Edge ST or Explorer ST. With prices starting at $43,265 and $54,740, respectively, both of those models are likely out of reach for those who would have considered a hypothetical Escape ST.

The fact that a higher-performance variant of the Ford Escape / Kuga isn’t planned is particularly regretful given that Ford has all the parts readily available to bring such a vehicle to market. The 2.3L EcoBoost I-4 and its very healthy 295 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque from the Escape’s corporate platform mate, the Lincoln Corsair, would be exactly what the doctor ordered. The AWD system is already there and ready to go, and a sportier suspension system and more aggressive body treatment wouldn’t be all that difficult to orchestrate.

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Here’s to hoping that The Blue Oval reconsiders its no-go decision for an Escape ST. After all, the all-new 2020 Ford Escape is truly a solid that is almost begging for a more powerful version. But given the relatively depressed state of affairs brought on the world by COVID-19, something that is also impacting Ford rather significantly, the automaker is in survival mode, and an Escape ST is probably the least of its concerns. After all, production of all FoMoCo vehicles remains idled across the Americas and Europe, placing a significant amount of pressure of the Dearborn-based automaker’s finances.

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Written by Alex Luft

Ford Authority founder with a passion for global automotive business strategy.

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5 Comments

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  1. A swing and miss not producing an Escape ST. Having owned a black 2017 Escape Titanium Awd 2.0. I added a Borla catback system. Airad cold air, ST rim center caps and oem ST badging on the front and rear of my Escape like used on the escort ST creating my own basic copy of the Escape ST. I decided not to tune my car since it would have voided my warranty. Wanting more power, my hopes was the 2020 ST would enter the lineup. After some research, it appeared that wasn’t happening. Being a big Ford fan I looked at the Fusion Sport which had been discontinued and the Taurus SHO was had also been discontinued. To find a luxury performance sedan I purchased a Chrysler 300C that came standard with a 5.7 hemi. The price was well below anything available with a V8 engine and provided the luxury and performance I was looking for. My final price was less than a basic equipped Fusion SEL. I did not want to purchase a Larger more expensive Explorer ST and my wife already owns a Edge Sport. So going against the grain. I wanted a large luxury sedan. For the price and features. I feel I made the correct decision. Maybe in the Future Ford will have my next vehicle which may be the Mach E. I just wish a performance Escape had been offered with the new 2020 Escape. Without sedans. The Escape is the closest vehicle to a sedan Ford currently offers in the US.

  2. This isn’t really an upset to be honest. Ford wastes so much money on trying to give non-performance vehicles performance packages. But then again, a lot of car companies do this. I’ve personally started giving up on anything worthwhile coming from the Ford or Ford Performance brand at this point. Ford had major potential but they won’t take their heads out of their butts long enough to do anything intelligent.

    • Whether or not this is “an upset” depends on who you ask.

      With the ongoing growth in the popularity of crossovers – and with Ford doing away with cars – a sporty crossover offering is needed. With the Edge ST and Explorer ST being very well received, a Escape/Kuga ST would extend Ford’s dominance in the sporty crossover segment(s).

  3. Yes, another disappointment. Hard to understand how it can come up with such great performance vehicles like the Mustang and it’s variants as well as the Focus and Fiesta ST’s not to mention the Ford GT, and lay so many other eggs along the way. What’s frustrating is we know that they can do it…we have proof. Maybe this is why two of their top marketing folks migrated to Google…? They got tired of marketing dull SUV’s instead of trying to boost sales of their truly exciting livery? When is the last time anyone has seen a Mustang commercial? I have to imagine that the engineering staff must be incredibly frustrated at this point! Think about it for second or two…basic physics…Escape ST…small, maybe somewhat nimble? No, better idea, let’s go larger instead, so we not only have a high roll center, but also more mass to throw around in corners? Who is running this comedy show? It’s becoming very clear that they’re putting $$$ before product and this usually ends badly.

  4. I agree with Mark Bedel. Ford has so much potential for performance it’s ridiculous. Electric, Hybrids and Ecoboost vehicles could serious rule the roads with the stuff that Ford has at their disposal right now. Ford just came out with a 1400hp Electric Cobra Jet Mustang with 1,100lb-ft of torque, Just months ago Ford/Webasto teamed up on the Mustang Lithium, a 900-PLUS hp electric performance vehicle with over 1,000lb-ft of torque. Ford also had the 459hp/612tq electric powertrain in the Mach-E GT. As far as hybrids, Ford has a 3.0L Hybrid Ecoboost engine that puts out 494hp and 630lb-ft of torque along with a slew of Ecoboost engines including a 3.5L Ecoboost that can make anywhere from 450hp/510tq to 660hp/550tq, a 3.0L Ecoboost that puts out 400hp/415tq and a 2.3L that makes 350hp/350tq. Plus the fact that they have the new CD6 modular chassis that can be used for Front, Rear and All-wheel drive vehicles along with the new GE1 platform that Underpins the Mach-E. Ford could easily work nearly everything off of those two Chassis and never miss a beat. I still say Ford should seriously simplify their lineup down to two car vehicle families, the Fairlane family and the Fairmont Family. The Fairlane family being rear wheel drive based CD6 chassis cars and the Fairmont family being the front-wheel drive family of vehicles, along the Explorer Class SUVs and that’s what goes on the CD6 platform ford vehicles. The Fairlane family should include a Torino Coupe and a Fairlane sedan about the size of the BMW 8-series along with a Ranchero mini truck (ford’s already planning to bring one to the states so it’s not out of the question). the Farimont Family should include a sedan and a crossover (one that would take the place of the edge with more traditional styling like the Ford Flex). The Explorer class vehicles should have the Bronco Sport (FWD CD6) and the Explorer, which should include not only the on-road performance ST, but an off road performance Explorer Wildtrak. Not to take anything away from the Ranger as the Explorer would be more of just and Explorer with all-terrain tires and a 2″ lift. The The T6 platform should receive the new Bronco and a new Ford Ranger pickup that shares more of the look of the next generation F150 along with a 3.0L Ecoboost engine, a 3.3L N/A engine and a 3.0 Eco diesel engine, all with the 10-speed auto and standard 4×4. The Ranger should also come with a 6ft bed and a full crew cab setup. The Super Duty should be renamed the Atlas and come completely with electric engines to combat the new Hummer. All of the commercial vehicles and fleet vehicles should be electric and the electric cars should include the Mustang Mach E, the EVOS and a new C-Max family of vehicles. Ford would never need another V8 engine ever. If Ford can produce a 660hp 3.5L Conventional powertrain setup, Imagine what Ford could do with a Hybrid DCT setup with that engine. It would out perform the current GT500 with no problem and the new CD6 platform can handle it. That’s five chassis (3 conventional, 2 Electric) with a wide range of uses plus it lowers the Carbon footprint of the overall vehicle fleet. Drop Lincoln and add the Vignale package to certain vehicles, giving them Lincoln grade materials and tech would also help to reduce Ford’s overall carbon foot print, reduce overall expenses because you reduce the number of models and number of reskinned vehicles and helps to make vehicles more global. With electric vehicles, you also reduce the number of four-cylinder engines because you have all the economy you need with the electric, which allows for more performance vehicles in the European market. Along with the fact that you have enough performance with the gasoline engines to keep the american australian markets happy!

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