DEARBORN, MI – Ford today unveils the S-Max concept, a cross/utility vehicle the auto maker says showcases new technologies and its latest design philosophy.

The CUV, which will make its official debut at next month’s Frankfurt auto show, features exterior styling reminiscent of the new Fusion and Mondeo midsize sedans, with a high-mounted grille, swept-back headlamps and sharply raked windshield.

Other exterior design cues include a feature line running along the side of the vehicle, sculpted shoulders and “organic” light-emitting diode headlamps, which Ford says offer greater flexibility in terms of positioning, design and color range.

Inside, the S-Max concept features seating for seven and scalloped front seats meant to express fine craftsmanship. A high-set instrument panel cuts into the center console, creating a sense of space.

“This car is important for us because it builds on the concept we have of delivering a premium automotive experience to mainstream customers,” J Mays, Ford group vice president-design, says at a media preview here.

“If you put the S-Max concept together with other premium-looking vehicles, you start to imagine what that showroom will look like – a very different customer experience.”

The concept is chock-full of technology, some of which is slated for production, while other elements are in the research phase.

The Ford Sync with MyFord Touch infotainment system is the centerpiece of the S-Max. Ford says the system will be able to recognize 19 languages when in debuts in Europe, although no launch date has been announced.

The rear seat features a tablet-docking station, while the entire vehicle will be wired for Wi-Fi Internet capability.

Advanced features still in the research phase include seats that monitor heart rates and a glucose-monitoring system for diabetics. Another future technology is Ford’s car-to-car communications system that enables vehicles to talk with one another to deliver warnings to drivers of potentially dangerous situations.

A technology scheduled to launch with future production vehicles is Ford’s Intelligent Protection System with Pre-Collision Assist, which identifies pedestrians and automatically applies the brakes if a collision is imminent.

Another is an advanced version of Ford’s Active Park Assist Feature that not only controls the steering when parallel parking, but also the throttle, transmission and brakes. Additionally, the system assists when the vehicle is exiting a parking spot by alerting the driver to oncoming traffic.

A dual-view display allows the driver to see relevant vehicle information while the passenger views movies or other entertainment options. Ford has not announced if this technology is production-feasible.

The S-Max concept is powered by Ford’s new 1.5L direct-injected turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cyl. engine, which will appear first in the Escort C-car, a vehicle to be sold exclusively in China.

Ford has not announced whether the S-Max concept will enter production, but Mays hints it likely will be built, noting the current S-Max, on the market since 2006, is due for an update.

“If you think of how we’ve been working over the past few years, we will introduce a concept, and it’s very near the production vehicle,” he says.

Should Ford decide to build the S-Max, it would be sold exclusively in Europe, Mays says, noting European customers are looking to move to larger CUVs while Americans are looking to downsize.

bpope@wardsauto.com