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The 2012 Ford Escape Hybrid uses an electronically-controlled CVT. (Ford)
The 2012 Ford Escape Hybrid uses an electronically-controlled CVT. (Ford)

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Ford Escape ditches hybrid, adds EcoBoost Add to ...

Even with sales surging in Canada, the next Ford Escape will not offer a V6 engine or a gas-electric version, and instead will offer three different four-cylinder engines when the all-new compact crossover is officially introduced at the L.A. auto show in November.

Ford’s all-new Escape will be based on its Vertrek concept vehicle that was introduced early this year at the Detroit auto show, and will share much of its looks and engineering with the European Ford Kuga.

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For North America, two EcoBoost fours will be offered, a new-to-this-continent 1.6-litre, turbocharged four that is expected to be more fuel efficient than the current hybrid, and if the power numbers of the Vertrek are to be taken as a guide, about 180 hp.

The second turbocharged four will be a version of the 240 hp 2.0-litre engine that was just introduced to the Ford Explorer and Oakville-built Edge. It will be the beast of the engine lineup, and replace the outgoing 3.0-litre V6, offering much more power and fuel economy than before.

Paradoxically, the largest 2.5-litre four-cylinder will actually be the base engine, an updated version of the current base engine.

The new Ford crossover green crown will be moved from the Escape Hybrid to the incoming C-MAX Hybrid, which will feature regular hybrid as well as a plug-in hybrid (C-MAX Energi) versions. Ford says the regular C-MAX will achieve 25 per cent greater fuel economy than the Escape Hybrid which, for the all-wheel drive version, averages 7.0 litres/100 km overall.

Interestingly, a Ford-run blog that’s a part of the firm’s big marketing push to get Ford buyers to tell their own stories may be backfiring. The comments section previewing these upcoming crossovers is full of pleas for Ford to reverse its decision not to offer a seven-seat version of the C-MAX in North America, as well as anger over unaccepted warranty claims on the Escape Hybrid.

‘Consumers are not stupid’

Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says one version of the minivan is more than enough.

Marchionne told trade book Automotive News in this week’s issue that “consumers are not stupid,” and that the firm does not want to create confusion in the showroom by offering different versions of the same vehicle.

The trade book reported that the Dodge Grand Caravan and Dodge Avenger would both be replaced as soon as 2013 by a crossover that offers seven-passenger capacity and the flexibility of a minivan, similar to what Ford and GM have done.

The Dodge Grand Caravan has traditionally been sold at a lower price point, often with heavy incentives, than the Chrysler Town & Country, which competes closer with upscale minivans such as the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.

But the Grand Caravan is outselling the T&C in both Canada and the U.S., with Dodge’s minivan staple staying close to the top of the list of best-selling vehicles in Canada for many years. This has prompted media reports suggesting the Grand Caravan will be the one minivan offering north of the border, while the Chrysler T&C would be kept for the U.S.

The report also said that Marchionne has decided against new subcompact models for the U.S., outside the Fiat 500, saying that small models make sense in Canada and Mexico, but the limited numbers needed to supply those markets could be handled by production elsewhere in the world.

The Nissan Juke-R concept.

Nissan Juke-R concept no joke

The wild but wonderfully wacky folks at Nissan Europe have created a monster love child of a small Juke crossover and its range-topping ‘Godzilla’ GT-R sports car. They stuffed a version of the GT-R’s 480 hp twin turbocharged engine under the tiny city ute’s hood to create the Juke-R concept.

Nissan insists the resulting concept won’t be put into production, but the creation of a super crossover is an intriguing idea to Nissan Europe, which is building both left and right-hand drive versions for show car use, as first reported by jalopnik.com.

Nissan has posted videos of the car’s development on the Juke’s Facebook page, in anticipation of its public debut likely at the L.A. auto show or perhaps the SEMA aftermarket show.

Karma coming to Canada in November

The first Fisker Karma luxury plug-ins should arrive in Canada by November, said the general manager of Fisker of Toronto, the California firm’s third and newest Canadian dealer for the curvaceous if pricey extended-range hybrid.

Starting at $108,000, a fully charged Karma will travel up to 85 km on electricity alone, said Michael Cornacchia, GM of the new dealership. In total, the Karma has a range of 450 km, he said, averaging 68 miles per gallon (3.5 litres/100 km).

Using a 260 hp 2.0-litre Ecotec four as a back-up generator, similar to what the Chevrolet Volt does with a smaller engine, the Karma’s 175 kW electric motor generates 981 lb-ft of low-end oomph.

For orders placed today, deliveries would take until March, Cornacchia estimated. He also said that the Fisker Surf, the Karma wagon introduced recently in Frankfurt, was likely to arrive in 2013, though nothing definite has been confirmed.

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