Ford Kuga (2012-2020) review

The Ford Kuga is an ideal mid-size SUV for families. It offers great value and feels good to drive.

Published: 14 November 2022

  • Ford Kuga 2012-2020


If you’re looking for a family-friendly, great-value SUV that feels good to drive, the Ford Kuga could be ideal. Sold new from 2012 to 2020, this second-generation Kuga has as much space as most families of four are likely to need. It also comes with lots of useful features. There are many different Kugas to choose from, with petrol or diesel engines, manual or automatic gearboxes, two-wheel or four-wheel drive and a broad range of trim levels, from the affordable Zetec to the luxurious Vignale. This all means that you should be able to find a Kuga to suit your needs and your budget.


  • Feels good to drive
  • Great value
  • Lots of models to choose from


  • Some rivals are more spacious
  • Not available with seven seats
  • No hybrid power options
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Dashboard & tech

High-spec Kuga models have a touchscreen-controlled infotainment system that gives you access to features like the radio, Bluetooth connection and sat nav. Models sold from 2016 have an updated version of the system that’s easier to use, but the screen takes a bit of time to respond when you swipe or press on it.

Other features included as standard on all Kuga models include air con, cruise control, a CD player, and electric windows. High-spec models get extra luxuries including heated seats, parking sensors and a panoramic sunroof.


The Kuga is always very comfortable, even when driving over really big potholes and bumps. The seats are soft and supportive, so you’re unlikely to pick up aches and pains on a long journey. The seats and suspension in sporty-looking ST-Line models feel firmer, but not enough to be uncomfortable. Some models have reclining back seats, which is useful if your passengers want a nap during a journey.

Being an SUV, the Kuga’s seats are a couple of feet off the ground, which means you don’t have to lower yourself down or climb up into the Kuga; you just step into the car and slide straight onto the seat.


While it’s not as plush as premium cars from, say, Audi or Mercedes-Benz, the Kuga feels rather upmarket to the touch, with a nice choice of materials inside. The top-spec Vignale version is particularly well-appointed with some posh leather upholstery.

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Practicality & boot space

Interior space

With its relatively tall and wide body, the Kuga gives you a lot of interior space. Even if you’re really tall, you should have enough legroom and headroom in both the front and back seats. The ceiling in models with a sunroof is a bit lower, but that shouldn’t be an issue for most people. The back seat is wide enough for three adults to sit together in reasonable comfort, so you should have no issues fitting two children into car seats.

There are plenty of places to store things like drinks, snacks, keys and phones. Each door has a pocket big enough for a half-litre drink bottle; there’s a pair of cupholders between the front seats and another pair in the rear armrest; a deep cubby hole sits under the front armrest, with slots for storing CDs (if you still use them); and there’s a large glovebox.

Boot space

The Kuga doesn’t have the biggest boot you’ll find in this type of car, but its 456-litre capacity should be enough to cover the needs of most families. A pushchair or two, a big food shop, or luggage for a week-long holiday will fit in easily. Be aware that models with a spare wheel under the boot floor have a slightly smaller boot capacity.

The boot is at a convenient height above the ground for loading heavy things. There’s a relatively short distance between ground and boot if you’re heaving something up, and you don’t have to bend down much to load in something.


Some other mid-size SUVs have boots with hidden extra storage where you can put things like maps, umbrellas or shoes. You don’t get that in the Kuga, but its boot is at least quite deep and a square shape, which makes it easier to pack in lots of stuff.

The back seats fold down at the pull of a handle, freeing up enough space to carry big and bulky items, like a bike or a chest of drawers.

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Driving experience

If you enjoy driving, the Kuga is a great choice because it’s more fun than many other mid-size SUVs. The steering is light and responsive, the car feels agile for a tall SUV and it doesn’t lean much in corners. That makes it very easy to drive around town and to park, and also means that you can enjoy yourself on a country road. The Kuga also feels smooth and relaxing on longer journeys.


The Kuga is available with a wide range of petrol and diesel engines, all of which give perfectly adequate acceleration. However, the differences between them become more obvious when you drive on faster roads. Models with a 118bhp engine can feel sluggish when accelerating up to motorway speeds, whereas the more-powerful engines feel quicker and better able to maintain 70mph.

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Running costs

Fuel economy & CO2 emissions

According to official figures, Kuga models with a petrol engine can give you an average fuel economy of 29mpg to 45mpg and diesel models can give 37mpg to 65mpg. Models sold new from 2019 are at the lower end of those spectrums because their fuel economy was measured according to the stricter procedure introduced that year, but the difference is on paper rather than in real life.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions range from 143g/km to 205g/km in petrol models and 115g/km to 164g/km in diesels. Cars sold before April 2017 are subject to annual Vehicle Excise Duty (car tax) based on their CO2 emissions, so most Kuga models are in the lower-cost bands. For cars sold after April 2017, it’s an annual £155 flat fee.

Value for money

The Kuga is great value for money, giving you lots of space, generous levels of equipment as standard and relatively low running costs for a very affordable price.

Reliability & Warranty

The J.D. Power 2019 UK Vehicle Dependability Study put the Ford brand in the top half of the manufacturer rankings, suggesting that its cars are generally reliable.

Ford offered a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty on the Kuga from new. This is in line with many other manufacturers, but there are several that offer longer coverage. For example, Toyota will give you five years of warranty cover on its cars and Kia offers seven years.

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Safety features

Safety organisation Euro NCAP awarded the Kuga a full five-star rating when the car was assessed in 2012. Standard driver-safety features include seven airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control. Many models also have automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and a system that automatically alerts the emergency services if you have a crash.

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Trims & Engines

Trim levels

There are five trim levels available on the Kuga, starting with the most-affordable Zetec. The Titanium and Titanium X get more luxurious features, the ST-Line has a sporty look and the top-of-the-range Vignale feels like a proper luxury car.

All Kugas have air con, cruise control, a CD player and electric windows. Many also have DAB radio, Bluetooth, sat nav and parking sensors. The top-of-the-range Vignale has luxurious leather seats that are heated and electrically adjustable in the front. In models sold new from 2016, all trim levels except the Zetec have a touchscreen infotainment system that gained Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity in 2019.


There are two petrol and two diesel engines available in the Kuga. Ford uses the EcoBoost name for its petrol engines, which come in 1.5-litre or 1.6-litre sizes for the Kuga. The diesels (labelled Duratorq TDCi) come as 1.5-litre or 2.0-litre units. There’s yet more variation as each of those engines is available with several different amounts of power. The petrol engines cover a range of 118bhp to 179bhp, and the diesels cover 118bhp to 178bhp. The more power the engine has, the quicker the car can accelerate. The most popular petrol and diesel engines in the Kuga have around 150bhp, because they give a good balance between performance and fuel economy.

Most Kugas have a manual gearbox but there are plenty of ones with an automatic if you prefer. Some models also have four-wheel drive, which can give you extra reassurance on muddy or icy roads and the ability to tow up to 2,100kg.

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