Ford Kuga SUV
Price £21,000 - £33,250
- Good value and well equipped
- Economical diesel engines
- Spacious interior
- Inferior automatic gearboxes
- Too many buttons inside
- Not fun to drive as Mazda CX-5
At a glance
"Bigger, cleaner and better value than before, the Ford Kuga is a solid option for SUV buyers."
The Ford Kuga was launched in 2008 and is Ford's answer to mid-sized SUVs such as the Honda CR-V and Volkswagen Tiguan. In 2013, the range was joined by a high-spec Titanium X model, which gets lots of standard kit, although all Kugas offer decent equipment levels.
The Kuga comes with either four-wheel drive, for extra grip and decent off-road ability, or with two-wheel drive for added economy. Buyers can choose between a 1.6-litre petrol, or a 2.0-litre diesel. Both come in two levels of tune that offer better performance or more economy.
The model can also be had with useful equipment such as Ford's SYNC system, which integrates with your smartphone. It allows you to dictate text messages and can also read incoming messages aloud.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Downsized petrol and efficient diesel engines lessen costs
The Kuga works best when fitted with one of the two diesel engines on offer. When specced in two-wheel-drive form, the basic 140 2.0-litre diesel can return 53.3mpg and emissions of 139g/km, which means road tax will cost £130 annually. Fitting the same model with four-wheel drive means economy drops to 47.9mpg, while emissions also rise, so that road tax costs £180 annually. Opt for the 2.0-litre 163 diesel, and economy as well as emissions stay the same, while performance is only marginally improved.
The 1.6-litre petrol cars come with either 148bhp or 178bhp. The former can return economy of 42.8mpg, while the latter can only manage 36.6mpg. It's fitted as standard with a power-sapping automatic gearbox, which means it is barely faster than the basic petrol version.
Interior & comfort
Bigger, roomier and fairly comfortable
The original Kuga was replaced by a new model in 2012, which offers more boot space and also has more space in the back for taller passengers. It also gets useful optional kit, such as an electric boot lid, which can be opened simply by sweeping your foot under the rear bumper – handy if you’re carrying lots of shopping.
The car's suspension is also improved and now does a good job of ironing out lumps and bumps on the road. The interior is quite quiet, too, although petrol models are noiser, and there is some noticeable wind noise at motorway speeds.
The new car's interior has improved drastically over the old model's, with high-quality plastics that put it in line with the rest of the Ford range.
Practicality & boot space
Longer body gives extra space for luggage
The new Kuga is 81mm longer than the car it replaces, which means boot capacity has gone up by 96 litres to offer 456 litres in total, although this drops down to 406 litres if you choose to have a spare wheel, rather than the standard tyre-repair kit. The boot has a large opening, however, and is both low and flat, which makes it easier to load bulky items. The rear seats can also be folded down to increase boot capacity to 1,928 litres.
All seats offer plenty of head and legroom, while then rear seats also recline to offer more comfort, or added boot space in their most upright position.
Reliability & safety
Platform, engines and technology all proven in other Ford cars
The old Ford Kuga didn’t fair particularly well in our 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey coming 59th out of 150 cars. Ford, meanwhile, came 23rd out of 32 manufacturers, although it did finish ahead of its main UK rival – Vauxhall. Nonetheless, the Kuga does share many parts with the rest of the Ford range, which means they should be tried and tested.
The Kuga offers excellent crash protection, however, and got a full five-star rating when it was tested for safety by Euro NCAP. All Kuga's get ESP (electronic stability program) and can also be fitted with Ford's city safe, which brakes the car if it senses an imminent collision at low speeds.
Engines, drive & performance
Rivals as fun to drive as the Kuga
The Ford Kuga may be an SUV, but it offers car-like driving characteristics, although it is not as much fun to drive as the old model, or the Mazda CX-5. The soft suspension does mean the car leans in the corners, but it is also makes it comfortable for its passengers. The new model's dimensions can also make it tricky to park.
The two-wheel drive petrol gets from 0-60mph in 9.7 seconds (the same time it takes the top spec automatic petrol), but our pick of the range is the basic diesel model that can still manage 0-60mph in 10.6 seconds, but is also quieter and more economical than the petrol cars.
Price, value for money & options
Better equipped and cheaper than before
The new Kuga gets more equipment than the old model and is also up to £1,000 cheaper. All models hve air conditioning, cruise control, a heated front windscreen, a USB port, Bluetooth phone connection, and alloy wheels. The top-of-the-range models gets things like a premium stereo, with sat-nav, and a leather interior.
What the others say
"Ford has listened to customers and answered the few complaints they had with the old Kuga. And the new 4x4 is now a much better all-rounder as a result. It's much more spacious inside and easier to live with – but it's still great to drive and good looking. New features such a the automatic tailgate and Ford's SYNC system are welcome additions too, leaving the potentially steep price for top spec models as our only reservation. Apart from that, this is a great compact SUV."