If the new-ish Ford Kuga for Europe looks instantly familiar, there’s a perfectly good reason. The equivalent American version, the Escape, received its nip and tuck near the end of 2022. It’s only now the Blue Oval is updating the compact crossover on the Old Continent where there are some notable changes.

For the first time, the Kuga gets the rugged Active trim level with extra plastic body cladding and silver skid plates to make it look tougher. The adventurous flavor sits 0.4 inches (10 millimeters) higher at the front axle and 0.2 in (5 mm) at the rear for extra ground clearance. Ford also throws in a Trail drive mode that tweaks throttle response and traction control to deliver extra grip on mud, sand, and other soft surfaces.

Inside, the Kuga Active gets a dark wood trim on the dashboard and door panels, along with exclusive upholstery on the 18-way adjustable seats. It’s worth noting the Escape has had the Active trim for a while in the United States where it serves as the base model. In Europe, the 2024 Kuga will also be available in Titanium and ST-Line grades, each with subtle styling tweaks compared to the pre-facelifted versions.

As expected, the 2024 Kuga switches to Ford’s SYNC4 infotainment system with a 13.2-inch touchscreen accompanied by a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. The center console has been simplified by eliminating most of the conventional controls after integrating their respective functions into the enlarged display.

The engine lineup doesn’t include a diesel since oil-burners have fallen out of favor in Europe in the aftermath of the Volkswagen Group’s messy scandal. The base version has a turbocharged 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine with 148 hp sent to the front axle via a six-speed manual gearbox. You can step up to a self-charging hybrid with a 2.5-liter gasoline engine and an e-motor making a combined 177 hp in the FWD version and a slightly higher 180 hp in the AWD model.

2024 Ford Kuga Active facelift
2024 Ford Kuga Active facelift

The highlight is an upgraded plug-in hybrid, also with a 2.5-liter engine. It now puts out a combined 240 hp, which is 30 hp more than what you get in the Escape PHEV. It also packs an extra 18 hp than the pre-facelift Kuga PHEV and uses “an upgraded power-split automatic transmission” shared with the Kuga Hybrid AWD.

The Kuga PHEV now hits 62 mph (100 km/h) in 7.3 seconds, making it nearly two seconds quicker than before. In addition, the towing capacity has jumped by over 30 percent to 4,629 pounds (2,100 kilograms). Thanks to a 14.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, it offers a maximum electric range of 43 miles (69 kilometers) in the WLTP cycle.

Ford is already taking orders in some European countries for the 2024 Kuga. A report published last year by Automotive News claimed the Escape will be retired from the US at some point in 2025.



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