DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. today unveiled a concept designed in Europe that previews the next Escape crossover to be sold in North America.
Technically, it's called the Vertrek concept, but don't be fooled: This is a clear indication of the styling of Ford's next small utility vehicle.
The design is a considerable departure from the squared-off, blocky exterior of the Escape.
The Vertrek was designed at Ford's European design studio. It also previews the next-generation Kuga, Ford's crossover sold in Europe.
"I don't think you'll be disappointed when you see the production car on the road," Ford design chief J Mays said. "It's a radical departure from the Escape."
The Vertrek is longer, lower and wider than the Escape, and it is designed to house Ford's 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter EcoBoost engines, along with a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter inline-four. Those powertrains are expected to be offered in the next Escape.
Ford said late last year it planned to build the next-generation Escape at its Louisville, Ky., assembly plant, starting in late 2011. It is expected to be a 2012 model.
The Vertrek concept can also be fitted with start/stop and regenerative braking -- technologies that likely will be used on the production version.
The trapezoidal grille is borrowed from the new Focus and is divided into three parts. There's a sleek roofline, and the beltline rises toward the back for an athletic appearance. The hood and fenders are creased, and it's all topped with a panoramic sunroof. There are large vents in front, accented chrome molding, stretched headlights and wraparound taillights.
In the cabin, there is leather in the instrument panel and floor materials and four sporty seats. There's also an extensive center console that spans much of the interior.
Vertrek is the Dutch word for "departure," but the next Escape will be similar to this concept.
David Phillips contributed to this report