Ford Kuga review (2020-2023)

If you want family-friendly space in a good-value SUV that’s also fun to drive, the Ford Kuga is a great choice.

Published: 14 November 2022

  • Ford Kuga 2020- review

Summary

The latest Ford Kuga (on sale new since 2020) is one of the best mid-size SUVs. With a roomy interior and a generous helping of features as standard, it can make travelling easier and more relaxing, whether you’re solo or have the car loaded with people and things. On top of that, the Kuga is enjoyable to drive and you can choose from a wide range of efficient engines, including hybrid and plug-in hybrid models.

Pros

  • Spacious interior
  • Great to drive
  • Hybrid power options

Cons

  • Dour interior
  • Bland exterior
  • Sporty models have a firm ride
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Interior

Dashboard & tech

All Kugas have Ford’s latest touchscreen infotainment system. The screen is on top of the dashboard within easy reach and when you’re driving you don’t need to avert your eyes far from the road to look at it. The system includes sat nav, Bluetooth and DAB radio, and you can also connect your smartphone to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

The touchscreen responds quickly when you press it, and the graphics look smart. It takes a bit of time to learn how to find the different features or information you want, but the row of programmable shortcut keys below the screen makes it easier to use. Most models have a digital driver’s display instead of traditional dials, which can show you widescreen sat nav maps. All models have a wireless smartphone charging pad. 

The air con and sound volume are controlled by buttons and dials that are easy to find and to use. You can also use buttons on the steering wheel to navigate through the infotainment or to set the cruise control.

Comfort

The Ford Kuga’s seats are on the firm side, but they’re supportive enough to spend a full day in. The driver’s seat adjusts forwards and backwards, and up and down (electrically in most models), as does the steering wheel, so it’s easy to find a driving position that works for you. The front passenger seat is also adjustable and the back seats recline – something older children (or adults) will appreciate if they want to sleep. Top-of-the-range models have heated seats front and back, and a heated steering wheel.

The ride quality is generally comfortable, but the bigger wheels and thinner tyres on sporty ST-Line models make it feel a bit firmer because they provide less cushioning from the road.

Quality

The Ford Kuga’s interior and dashboard looks almost identical to what you’d find in a Ford Focus, which is to say it’s easy to use and pleasant to look at but a bit underwhelming compared with rivals such as the Peugeot 3008. The Kuga feels well made but some rival cars have a more premium look and use materials that feel more plush.

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Practicality & boot space

Interior space

The Ford Kuga gives you lots of legroom and headroom in the front and back seats, and although the middle back seat is big enough for an adult, it’s probably best for shorter trips. Still, four tall adults or a family with kids will be comfortable on most journeys. Models with a sunroof have slightly less headroom, but only really tall people will notice. The height of the Kuga’s seats means most people won’t need to climb up or bend down to get in, and you can lift children in and out without having to stoop. The doors also open wide, making it easier to get in and out.

There are lots of places to put keys, phones, snacks, drinks and all the other everyday stuff you might need in the car. The pockets on the front and back doors are deep and wide, and each includes a holder that fits a half-litre bottle. There are two cupholders between the front seats and two more in the back armrest; a deep bin under the front armrest; and a cubby in front of the gearstick. If you want to charge your devices, you have USB points in the front and back, plus a 12-volt socket in the boot.

Boot space

The amount of boot space you get in the Ford Kuga depends on where you set the sliding rear seats. If you push them back or maximum legroom, the boot is smaller than average with a capacity of 412 litres to the load cover. That’s still more space than you get in hatchbacks such as the Ford Focus but many mid-size SUVs give you a lot more room (the latest Nissan Qashqai’s boot, for example, has a 504-litre capacity). Push the Kuga’s seats all the way forwards and it’s a different matter, with an above-average capacity of 526 litres.

Versatility

Having a sliding back seat does mean that you can tailor the Kuga’s interior to different needs, which could come in handy. The back seats also fold down if you need to carry anything really big and bulky, like an armchair. They fold in a 60/40 split, which means you can lower the larger section to make room for bulky items and still put a passenger in the back.

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Driving

Driving experience

The Kuga feels better to drive than any other mid-size SUV – it’s responsive and smooth. It can be a lot of fun on an open country road, but it’s also great for the kind of everyday driving that most people do. Its nimble feel makes nipping around town and parking really easy. Its smoothness helps make bumpy roads more comfortable and it feels solid as a rock at motorway speeds for relaxing long journeys. The interior is pleasantly quiet, with little road or engine noise getting through.

Performance

You can get the Kuga with either petrol, diesel), full-hybrid or plug-in hybrid power. The 1.5-litre diesel model can feel a bit sluggish when accelerating from a standstill; the other power options are quicker. Which one suits you best largely depends on what type of journeys you make most often. If you do lots of short journeys with the occasional long run, the plug-in hybrid may be best because you’ll often be able to drive on electricity alone. 

Petrol models have a manual gearbox. Some diesel models and all hybrids have an automatic. The manual gearshift is satisfyingly precise; automatics (controlled by a rotary dial between the front seats) feel smooth and responsive. If you want four-wheel drive, opt for the 188bhp version of the 2.0-litre diesel engine.

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Running costs

Fuel economy & CO2 emissions

According to official figures, petrol Kuga models can give you an average fuel economy of up to 42.6mpg and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of 149g/km. Diesel models can give you between 49.6mpg and 60.1mpg, depending on the combination of engine and gearbox. The most efficient is the manual 1.5-litre diesel with CO2 emissions that range from 137g/km to 150g/km.

The full-hybrid model can give 52.3mpg, with CO2 emissions of 125g/km. The plug-in hybrid has an official average of 201.8mpg but what you get in the real world will depend on your charging and driving habits. For example, a full recharge takes six hours using a domestic three-pin socket, or 3.5 hours using a ‘wallbox’ charger, for a maximum electric-only range of 39 miles. Its CO2 emissions of 32g/km means you’ll pay little car tax.

Value for money

New or used, the Kuga costs much the same as other mid-size SUVs but is notably well equipped with features, which makes it excellent value.

Reliability & Warranty

Ford as a brand scored well in the J.D. Power 2019 UK Vehicle Dependability Study, with an above-average score that placed it ninth in the overall rankings of major car manufacturers.

From new, the Kuga comes with a three-year, 60,000-mile manufacturer warranty. This is fairly standard compared to several rivals, but there are other carmakers that offer more generous cover. For example, Hyundai will cover the Tucson for five years, and Kia will give you seven years of cover on the Sportage.

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Safety

Safety features

All models have front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist as standard. On all models, apart from the entry-point Zetec, you also get a reversing camera and driver-attention monitor.

You may want to look for cars with the optional Driver Assistance Pack, which includes useful features like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning, a forward-view parking camera and an automatic parking system that manoeuvres the car into a space for you.

The Kuga scored high marks in all the assessments carried out by the safety organisation Euro NCAP, earning a full five-star rating.

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Trims & Engines

Trim levels

Kuga trim levels are called Zetec, Titanium, ST-Line, ST-Line X and Vignale. In 2021, the word Edition was added to the Titanium, ST-Line and ST-Line X names, but it doesn’t indicate anything significant like extra equipment. You may also come across First Edition models; they also don’t include any extra equipment, so the term just indicates that the car was one of the first Kugas of that type to be sold in the UK. 

You get lots of features as standard on every version of the latest Kuga. Even entry-level versions come with a touchscreen infotainment system with built-in sat nav and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, air con, cruise control and a wireless phone-charging pad.

Titanium and ST-Line models add a reversing camera, digital driver’s display, electric boot lid, electric driver’s seat, part-leather seat upholstery and a powerful B&O sound system. You can easily spot an ST-Line model by its bigger wheels and sportier-looking bumpers.

Top-of-the-range ST-Line X and Vignale models have heated front and back seats, a heated steering wheel and an opening panoramic sunroof. The more luxurious Vignale also has ‘Sensico’ artificial leather upholstery.

Engines

There’s one petrol option available in the Kuga, a 1.5-litre engine that Ford calls EcoBoost, which comes with a manual gearbox. The hybrid and plug-in-hybrid models have a 2.5-litre petrol engine and an automatic gearbox.

Kuga calls both of its 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre diesel options EcoBlue. The 2.0-litre is available with 148bhp or 188bhp. The 148bhp engine has mild-hybrid assistance, an extra electrical system that improves fuel economy and lowers CO2 emissions. If you want an automatic gearbox, look at  some 1.5-litre models and all 2.0-litre, 188bhp models. If you need to tow a trailer or caravan, the 188bhp diesel’s braked capacity of 2,100kg makes it the best option.

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