Ford, the American automotive giant, has recently been forced to recall approximately 1.4 million vehicles constructed from 2012 to 2013, however these recalls are unlikely to have much of an impact on future Ford models. This is particularly true of the Ford Escape, which was the subject of recalls regarding air-bag and door handle issues, both of which have the potential to cause serious injury to passengers. The question of whether or not these faults will cause Ford to affect any significant changes for the 2015 model of the Ford Escape is one which is likely to impact thousands of consumers.
In order to understand the decision faced by the American auto-makers, one must first understand the popularity of the Ford Escape among consumers. A number of automotive experts, including Wheels.com, test drove the 2014 Ford Escape, and were more or less unanimous in their praise of the car. The style of the 2014 model drew particular praise from reviewers, following the comprehensive design overhaul earlier this decade. However, perhaps most important was the fact that the Ford Escape provides drivers with a more ‘car-like’ ride than most other comparable Crossover Utility Vehicles, and this is due to the fact that the Escape is based on the same platform as the Ford Focus. Furthermore, a system that Ford calls Torque Vectoring Control directs torque to the outer wheels during hard cornering, preventing understeer and generally improving the car’s cornering ability.
Features such as the ones mentioned above have made the Ford Escape a very popular car, meaning that Ford is unlikely to make any attempts to significantly change the 2015 model, in spite of the recent recalls. This is particularly true when one considers the long process that is required to design and produce a car. In fact, the Saudi Gazette reports that the 2015 Ford Escape will be an “aesthetic duplicate” of the 2014 model, no surprise considering the glowing reviews the 2014 model has received. The 2015 model is also expected to have about 40 inches of front and rear seat headroom, likely keeping it among the elite of the class. However, the 2015 will likely continue to lag behind the Honda CR-V, its main competitor in the Compact Utility Vehicle market, in terms of both legroom and storage capacity.
In terms of faults with the 2014 model, the problems were not a result of profound design flaws, and will likely be corrected by Ford without significant difficulty. Perhaps the most important thing about the recent spate of recalls is the fact that, according to Ford, no injuries have yet been caused by the defects. This means that, although the Escape’s image has undoubtedly suffered, it has likely not suffered catastrophically, allowing Ford to simply move on without a significant rebuild or re-branding effort. This was not the case in 2010, when Toyota was forced to issue massive recalls across its range of models due to the possibility of sticky accelerator-pedal mechanisms.
Ford then has very little incentive to effect any significant changes when it comes to the 2015 Escape, although minor changes are certainly in the works. For example, changes have already been made in an attempt to make the climate control buttons more accessible, in response to customer complaints. Minor changes such as these will likely be among the most important changes made to the car. After all, the occurrence of a few minor manufacturing defaults is no reason for Ford to change the recipe for future models of its best-selling CUV, the Ford Escape.
By Nicholas Grabe
The Saudi Gazette