Our spies have caught the new 2012 Ford Escape SUV on test in Michigan ahead of a planned debut at the Los Angeles auto show later in November 2011.
Following the One Ford mantra, the next Ford Escape will become the next Ford Kuga for Europe. So this will - eventually - replace the Kuga over here too.
So when will Ford replace the Kuga?
Not for a while yet, in Europe at least. Today's Kuga is a relatively new model, you see, which only arrived here in 2008.
While the Blue Oval plans to launch the Escape in 2012, SUV for Europe won't be replaced for another year or two. Insiders point to a 2013 or 2014 debut in the EU.
Ford sells some 200,000 Escapes a year in the US, compared with around 60,000 Kugas. Manufacturing different versions of similar sized models for different continents just doesn't add up in these austerity times.
Looks a bit like the Ford Vertrek concept car...
Good spot! Tone down the concept car frippery - the 21in wheels, the usual ridiculous door mirrors, the four individual seats - and you get a very good idea how the finished Escape/Kuga will look.
Ford's European design chief Martin Smith has previously told us his mission with the new one-world SUV. 'When the Kuga was launched in Europe, the North American bloggers were all over it, saying that this was yet another stylish vehicle they wouldn't get in the US. We've had a fantastic response to the Fiesta and Focus, so we believe the time is right.'
Smith's team has designed the Escape/Kuga replacements to lose some of the fussiness of earlier 'kinetic' designs; surfaces will be simpler, but strong graphical elements (windowlines, headlamps) will remain.
Ford Kuga (2013): the lowdown
Expect the European Ford Kuga to be a five-seater (there will be no seven-seat version). And these photos reveal a growth spurt which should answer criticisms of the current Kuga's lack of space.
And with the US-spec Escape hybrid already a dead cert, it sounds like the European Kuga will also offer petrol-electric propulsion. Even if most buyers do pick a downsized Ecoboost petrol or TDCi diesel.