2011 Detroit Auto Show
What is it?
Ford Vertrek Concept
What's special about it?
This is the compact SUV of the future according to Ford. It may be called the Vertrek concept for now, but it's actually an early look at the 2012 Ford Escape due out later this year.
Unlike the current Escape, which was built primarily for the U.S. market, the Vertrek is Ford's next worldwide crossover. It may not get the same name in Europe as it does in America, but they'll all be more or less the same underneath the skin.
Built on the same platform as the Ford Focus, the Vertrek concept is bigger than the Escape in most dimensions. Although the Vertrek is only about 4 inches longer than the Escape, the concept's wheelbase is nearly 7 inches longer. The overall width is up by 2.7 inches.
The only dimension that is smaller on the Vertrek is its height, as the roof is nearly 2 inches lower than the boxy Escape. Ford says the sleeker shape of the Vertrek makes it 5 percent more aerodynamic than the Escape. We would have guessed it was even more.
Given its Focus roots, it should come as no surprise than the Vertrek is powered by a 1.6-liter, EcoBoost four-cylinder engine. Ford says the next-generation Escape will most likely use this engine as well as a 2.0-liter EcoBoost and possibly a 2.5-liter, normally aspirated four-cylinder. Diesel engines will be offered in markets outside the U.S.
One feature that will likely arrive in all production models is an automatic start/stop mechanism. Already in use in various hybrid vehicles, Ford says its system has been refined to the point that most drivers will hardly notice that it's working. Total fuel savings? About 5 percent in normal driving according to Ford, more if you drive mainly in stop-and-go city traffic.
Edmunds.com says: It was only a matter of time before the more SUV-like Escape was replaced by a sleeker, more efficient car-based crossover. Thankfully, the Vertrek doesn't look half bad. Probably drives better, too. — Ed Hellwig, Editor