While the SUV has been one of the most lauded vehicle developments of the past half-century, an SUV is not necessarily “all things to all drivers.” In fact, there are some potential drivers who are turned away from SUVs by some of their well-known drawbacks: slightly-lower gas mileage, larger size, and often, a slightly tougher ride from robust, truck-like chassis. Enter a new segment pioneered by Ford: the Sports Activity Vehicle, embodied by the new Ford S MAX concept, which won’t be available for purchase, but demonstrates the elements and advantages of the segment.

Athough this concept won’t be available at any Louisville Ford dealer, there are many important aspects of the S MAX concept that make it noteworthy in terms of the Ford approach to vehicle design and segment-determination. Chief among these is the balancing act performed by a car in the Sport Activity Vehicle category: a fine line between the cargo capacity and conventional utility of an SUV, and the increased economy and performance of a sedan-like automobile. The performance side is driven by an all-new turbocharged 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine. The small capacity and EcoBoost technology preserve impressive fuel economy, while combining the turbocharging and twin-independent variable camshaft timing to deliver surprising performance. It’s important to note that such EcoBoost power plants are a staple of cars in the Ford range.

Another aspect that is becoming a hallmark of new Ford vehicles is the eye-catching styling of the S MAX concept. This is where the benefit of a Sports Activity Vehicle’s sedan-like elements comes into play. This singular styling statement comes with all the common artifacts of the new global Ford design cues, including the high-set grill and gracefully treated front fascia. It’s worth a second look, and such outstanding styling instincts are just a small piece of the attraction of the new Ford lineup.