Ford Kuga SUV review
“The latest Ford Kuga is great to drive, good value and practical, so it should prove to be a very popular family SUV”
- Good to drive
- Decent value
- Seats could be more comfortable
- Fidgety at higher speeds
- Smallest engines feel underpowered
The Ford Kuga is a family SUV that’s an alternative to models such as the Volkswagen Tiguan, Skoda Karoq and Hyundai Tucson. Ford has two other SUVs, the EcoSport and the Puma, and the Kuga is larger than both of them - and costs more to buy.
If you’re looking for a medium-size SUV, there’s also the Toyota RAV4, the SEAT Ateca and many more. Almost all the big car manufacturers offer a model like this, as they’re so popular. The Ford Kuga has its own appeal, though, which helps it to stand out. We think it looks especially smart in the sporty ST-Line trims.
The Kuga’s biggest strength, and the aspect that will appeal most, is the way it drives. The original Kuga was known for being the best car to drive of its type when it came out, and while this new third-generation model isn’t quite so far ahead of the competition, it’s still really enjoyable to spend time behind the wheel. It’s much better to drive than the previous Ford Kuga, too.
There are plenty of engines to pick from: a 1.5-litre petrol, a petrol-electric hybrid and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model with an official economy figure of over 200mpg. This version can drive for 35 miles on electricity alone, which is how it manages that incredible figure. Diesel engines were also offered, but Ford discontinued them in November 2021. The latest diesel engine (the 148bhp 2.0-litre model) featured mild-hybrid assistance to boost economy, and used examples can still make a good buy.
You’ll recognise the interior as Ford has carried over most of the parts from its other SUVs and hatchbacks. While it hasn’t got quite the same visual appeal as a Peugeot 3008 or Mazda CX-5, it’s logically laid out and the standard-fit eight-inch touchscreen controls a lot of the features. High-spec cars get a crisp 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster for the first time.
There are five trim levels to choose from, with the line-up kicking off at the Zetec model. Considering its entry-level position and low price, it’s rather well-equipped with sat nav, wireless phone charging, auto headlights and keyless start, plus a lot of standard safety kit.
Titanium adds LED lights, two-zone climate control and a premium speaker system, plus that 12.3-inch digital dial display. Then there are the sporty-looking ST-Line Edition and ST-Line X Edition pair, and the range-topping Vignale with unique styling touches and even more equipment.
A family SUV wouldn’t be much use if it wasn’t practical, but the Kuga impresses in this respect too. The rear seats slide fore and aft so you can prioritise legroom or boot space, and there are 526 litres to fill with the seats pushed forward. That compares well to the SEAT Ateca’s 510 litres and the 472 litres offered in the Renault Kadjar, although the boot isn’t particularly impressive with the seats slid back.
The Kuga has already gained a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, which should be reassuring. However, Ford will hope the new Kuga's excellent satisfaction ratings (19th place out of 75 models) improve the company’s position in our Driver Power survey; it came 25th out of 29 manufacturers in 2021.
What about buying a used or nearly new Ford Kuga?
The latest Ford Kuga is the best yet and makes a great used buy because most models will still have some factory warranty left. You can make a decent saving on the new price, plus there are wait times on new models and you may be able to get straight into a used example. It’s certainly a better car than the Mk2 model, so it’s worth spending a little more and choosing the Mk3 model.
What’s its history?
The first Ford Kuga came out in 2008, and it was one of the most enjoyable family SUVs to drive at that time. It competed with the first-generation Nissan Qashqai, just as the current models battle for buyers.
In 2012 the Mk2 model arrived, which was then updated in 2016 with a mid-life facelift. This version is a good-value used option and there are loads of different models to choose from, but it’s considered the worst of the three generations.
The current Mk3 model arrived in 2019 and we were immediately impressed with its electrified powertrains, much-improved driving experience and high-quality interior. It’s the best Kuga ever, especially in plug-in hybrid form.
Used Ford Kuga (Mk2 2012-2019)
The second-generation Kuga arrived in 2012, although post-2016 models had a better range of engines and more kit, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which make them feel a lot more modern. The interior is otherwise quite dated-looking these days, unlike a Skoda Karoq of a similar age, which still feels up-to-date.
Used Ford Kuga (Mk1 2007-2012)
The first-generation Ford Kuga is really cheap to buy as a used car, but you’ll need to be careful when buying because they are reaching the point where you can find neglected examples for sale that haven’t been well looked-after. It’s an interesting choice, and more enjoyable to drive than the Mk2, but will feel its age since it’s more than 10 years old now.