- Great design
- Diesel engines are efficient and economical
- Lots of fun to drive
- Interior is less exciting and upmarket than some
- Underlying engineering is becoming dated
- Recently launched SUVs are more innovative
The Ford Kuga is an excellent SUV choice with good looks and comfortable seats. It's so nice to drive it feels like you’re in a small car rather than an SUV, It also has a high standard of build quality which means it won’t let you down. An update in 2016 added a more contemporary feel.
There’s just one Kuga body style which is a roomy five-door with a decent-sized boot. The generous trim levels start with Zetec which features DAB audio and cruise control, followed by Titanium which adds a useful touchscreen. The Sporty ST and ST-Line X are next with their flashier alloy wheels and blacked-out grilles. The range is topped off by the luxurious Vignale with its plush leather trim and extra equipment.
There are decent petrol and diesel engine options and you can choose two or four-wheel drive.
The Ford Kuga has comfortable seats with lots of adjustment, while higher trim levels have electric assistance. The view out front is commanding thanks to the high driving position. It takes some time to get a sense of where all the controls are. It’s worth trying to find a model with the 8-inch touchscreen SYNC3 infotainment system.
Practicality is good, with plenty of room for five adult occupants. There’s a decent-sized boot with a capacity of 406 litres so you’ll be able to pack in a number of suitcases. This increases to a massive 1,603 litres when you fold down the rear seats and, as they fold flat, loading is easy. There’s also plenty of other interior storage, with a big compartment between the seats, a very roomy glove box and big door bins.
The Kuga offers a smooth ride and lack of body roll, which is something you’d expect from an SUV which stands more upright than other cars. Although it’s no longer quite top of the class, it’s still an impressive performer.
The electric power steering is light and direct. The ST-Line’s lowered suspension will suit some as it won’t sway so much from side-to-side when cornering.
While the view out front is excellent, the rear view isn't so good, making it difficult to judge. However, if you go for an ST-Line or higher there’s a self-steering automated parking system.
There’s a good range of engines on offer, although the entry-level diesel and petrol engines may feel a bit sluggish if you’re planning regular long trips. If you want more power, opt for the 2.0-litre diesel or the mid-range 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol. They’re both quiet and comfortable cruisers with sufficient reserves of power. The automatic gearbox option can feel a bit clunky and slow to shift, but most leisurely drivers won’t mind.
One of the most attractive aspects of buying a used Kuga is that it suffers higher depreciation than some of its rivals. This means you’ll find Kugas with great specifications costing less than rivals from Skoda or Seat.
Fuel economy is best in the diesels, with over 54 mpg claimed for all variants. Petrol engines will reach around 40 mpg, but 4x4 models will be less economical than two-wheel drive cars due to the extra weight.
Ford servicing costs should be very competitive and insurance won’t be bad with the Kuga range starting quite reasonably in insurance group 14.
There aren't any particular reliability issues and the Kuga has fared pretty well in owner satisfaction surveys.
The car won its 5-star Euro NCAP crash test award back in 2012. It’s attractive from a safety perspective, especially if you can find a used model with the optional Driver Assistance Pack. It adds autonomous emergency braking, traffic sign recognition and blind spot assistance, which can make a big difference if things go wrong.
Best for economy - 1.5TDCi 120PS ST-Line 2WD
Best for family - 2.0TDCi Titanium 150PS 2WD
Best for fun - 2.0TDCI 180PS ST-Line AWD
While the Zetec trim level is good value, look for Titanium spec for its little added luxuries. You shouldn’t have to pay too much more, but it has the SYNC3 touchscreen, plus dual-zone climate control and a host of other features including half-leather seats.
ST-Line models are also worth a look, especially as they’re more fun to drive and edgier looking. All the engines operate well and are largely economical whatever trim level you opt for.