Ford Kuga SUV
Price £20,995 - £33,530
- Good value and well equipped
- Economical diesel engines
- Spacious interior
- Too many buttons inside
- Inferior automatic gearboxes
- Not as much fun as Mazda CX-5
At a glance
"Bigger, cleaner and better value than before, the Ford Kuga is a solid option for SUV buyers."
SUVs aren’t known for their sporty handling, but the Ford Kuga is an exception. It's fun to drive and resists body lean in corners better than many hatchbacks. However, the Mazda CX-5 runs it very close and certainly has better, more direct steering.
Dynamic qualities were central to the appeal of the first-generation Kuga. That, and some quite radical styling – at least for a Ford. This latest version is more conservative looking and more biased towards comfort. It smooths out bumpy roads and irregular surfaces very well. Fortunately, it's still fun to drive. Where it's not so good is off-road, but then few cars in the Kuga's class are good anywhere but on tarmac.
The model is offered with a choice of petrol and diesel engines. The most economical of the two petrols is the 148bhp 1.5-litre EcoBoost, available only with two-wheel drive. It can do 45.6mpg, costs £145 a year to tax and goes from 0-62mph in 9.9 seconds. The more powerful 180bhp version is offered only with a wallet-punishing combination of four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox. As a result, it can manage only 38.2mpg while costing £205 a year to tax. However, acceleration from 0-62mph is only slightly worse, at 10.1 seconds.
The two 2.0-litre diesels are easier on the wallet, yet just as fast – if not faster. The most economical 148bhp version with two-wheel drive can do 60.1mpg and costs £110 a year to tax. Meanwhile, the 178bhp model can do 54.3mpg, costs £130 a year to tax and can crack 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds.
The Kuga is quite compact outside, but it's also a roomy car inside, with enough space for four adults to sit comfortably. It looks good and is generally quiet, except on the motorway when wind noise can intrude. There's no seven-seat option, but even if there was, the third-row seats would certainly only be suitable for children.
Ford offers four trim levels to tempt Kuga buyers. The line-up kicks off with familiar Zetec trim, which is generously equipped with alloy wheels, keyless start, air-conditioning, DAB digital radio and a heated windscreen. The next trim level, Titanium, adds smarter alloys, part-leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, voice control and Roll Stability Control for even tidier handling. Of all the trims, we think it offers the best balance of price and kit.
Most owners give their Kuga the thumbs-up for reliability and it tends to rank highest of all Ford models in this respect. It's a safe car, too, securing the maximum five stars from Euro NCAP for its crash-worthiness. Safety equipment includes electronic stability control, cruise control with a speed limiter, hill-start assistance and tyre-pressure monitoring.
Not sure what you're looking for? Find out what we think is the best SUV by watching our video below.
The Ford Kuga petrol engine is even more efficient than the old one, but the diesels are still our pick
The Ford Kuga no longer stands head and shoulders above rivals when it comes to driver enjoyment
The Ford Kuga is stylish inside and comes with plenty of equipment
The Ford Kuga has been stretched to offer more passenger space and a bigger boot
The Ford Kuga turned in a good performance in our 2014 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey