If the new-ish Ford Kuga for Europe looks familiar, there's a good reason. The equivalent American version, the Escape, received its facelift near the end of 2022. It's only now that Ford is updating the compact crossover in Europe where there are some notable changes.

For the first time, the Kuga gets the rugged Active trim with extra plastic body cladding and silver skid plates. The adventurous flavor sits 0.4 inches higher at the front axle and 0.2 in at the rear for extra ground clearance. Ford also throws in a Trail drive mode that tweaks throttle response and traction control for more grip on mud, sand, and other soft surfaces.

2024 Ford Kuga facelift

Inside, the Kuga Active gets a dark wood trim on the dashboard and door panels, along with exclusive upholstery on the 18-way adjustable seats. It's worth noting the Escape has had the Active trim for years in the United States where it serves as the base model. In Europe, the 2024 Kuga will also be available in Titanium and ST-Line grades, each with subtle styling tweaks over the pre-facelifted versions.

As expected, the 2024 Kuga switches to Ford's SYNC 4 infotainment system with a 13.2-inch touchscreen accompanied by a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. The center console has been simplified by eliminating most of the conventional controls after integrating their respective functions into the enlarged display.

The engine lineup doesn't include a diesel anymore after falling out of favor in Europe, but the base version has a turbocharged 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine with 148 hp sent to the front axle via a six-speed manual gearbox. You can step up to a self-charging hybrid with a 2.5-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor making a combined 177 hp in the FWD version and a slightly higher 180 hp in the AWD model.

2024 Ford Kuga Active facelift
2024 Ford Kuga Active facelift

The highlight is an upgraded plug-in hybrid, also with a 2.5-liter engine. It now puts out a combined 240 hp, which is 30 hp than the Escape PHEV. It also packs an extra 18 hp than the pre-facelift Kuga PHEV and uses "an upgraded power-split automatic transmission" shared with the Kuga Hybrid AWD.

The Kuga PHEV now hits 62 mph in 7.3 seconds, making it nearly two seconds quicker than before. In addition, the towing capacity has jumped by over 30 percent to 4,629 pounds. Thanks to a 14.4-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, it offers a maximum electric range of 43 miles (69 kilometers) in the WLTP cycle.

Ford is already taking orders in some European countries for the 2024 Kuga. A report published last year by Automotive News claimed the Escape will be retired from the US at some point in 2025.

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