SUVs

Ford's new Puma SUV sees danger ahead before you do

C'mon, how much better does this hybrid crossover look than our EcoSport?

For such a small SUV, the 2019 Ford Puma is available with a startling amount of cabin and safety tech.

Ford

Once upon a time, a tiny, shapely little hatchback called the Puma roamed Ford's European showrooms. That sporty little model only lived from 1997 to 2002, but now, its nameplate is back on another small-but-shapely creation. As is the industry trend these days, the 2019 Ford Puma has returned not as sports coupe, but as a crossover SUV.

The new Ford Puma is based on the automaker's front-wheel-drive Fiesta subcompact, and as such, it has tightly snubbed dimensions, including minimal front and rear overhangs and a short overall length. You can see the Blue Oval's current design language show up in spades, and to my eyes, the theme translates rather well, with a surprisingly sophisticated-looking design (at least on the higher-trim ST Line trim seen here).

Just because it's small and likely to be inexpensive doesn't mean the Ford Puma isn't loaded with tech. On the powertrain side, the Puma uses Ford's well-regarded 1.0-liter three-cylinder powerplant. The EcoBoost engine has powered larger vehicles like the Ford Focus before, so it shouldn't be outmatched here, especially since it's available with a new 48-volt mild-hybrid partner. 

The 11.5-kW belt-driven integrated starter generator stands in for an alternator, pulling energy that would otherwise be lost under braking and coasting into a small lithium-ion battery pack. The system also manages start/stop functionality and supplements the gas engine's torque when called for, neatly mitigating turbo lag in the process. 

All-in, Ford says the Puma's powertrain is good for 123 horsepower or 153 hp, depending on state of tune. A six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission are available. The latter two-pedal setup will enable available adaptive cruise control, which also includes active lane centering, speed sign recognition and stop-and-go functionality.

A diesel engine option backed by a dual-clutch automatic is also promised.

Numerous class-above features like a fully digital gauge cluster and V2X telematics are offered.

Ford

On the inside, there's loads of available tech, too, including an 8-inch Sync 3 touchscreen with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, onboard Wi-Fi and an available 10-speaker B&O premium audio system. A 12.3-inch fully digital reconfigurable gauge cluster is also optional, as are massaging lumbar seats -- both are rarities in this segment of the market. 

This new small SUV is also positively chock-full of active safety features. In addition to the usual suspects, the Puma's available CoPilot 360 suite of advanced driver-assist features even gets new Local Hazard Information functionality. This system warns drivers of dangerous situations far ahead by leveraging available road information found in the cloud. The data can come from local emergency services, authorities or other connected cars via the FordPass Connect embedded modem. That's right, this tiny, (presumably) affordable SUV has vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2X) tech built-in.

Ford says you can actually stow two golf bags like this.

Ford

Ford is also crowing about the Puma's so-called Ford Megabox, the unusually large cargo area (16.1 cubic feet) that can accommodate a pair of golf bags positioned upright. The plastic Megabox liner features a drain plug for easy cleaning and a lid for concealed storage. 

If all of these neat features and the Ford Puma's sleek design has you wondering when you'll be able to cross-shop one against a Honda HR-V or a Hyundai Kona, well, keep dreaming. Ford of North America spokesperson Mike Levine tells Roadshow, "The all-new Puma will be sold in European markets with no plans to export to the US."

That, friends, seems like a real shame. Here in the US, Ford's smallest and least expensive SUV, the similar-sized EcoSport, has only been with us since 2018. The tiny crossover hasn't exactly won us over with its performance, interior quality or appearance. 

Here's hoping that the Blue Oval eventually considers letting the Puma prowl North American streets.

This particular Puma features sporty ST Line visuals.

Ford