In-depth reviews

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”

Carbuyer Rating

4.1 out of 5

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Pros

  • Good to drive
  • Spacious
  • Decent value

Cons

  • Seats could be more comfortable
  • Fidgety at higher speeds
  • Smallest engines feel underpowered

The Ford Kuga is now the largest SUV the company sells in the UK, after the slow-selling Ford Edge was discontinued. It sits above the Ford EcoSport and Ford Puma, and is very much aimed at family buyers. This new car was launched in early 2020, and looks set to continue the success of the previous two generations.

The trouble is that you have an overwhelming amount of choice if you’re after a medium-size SUV like the Kuga. Almost every mainstream manufacturer has a similarly practical and high-riding crossover model, and that meant that the previous Kuga was overshadowed by far newer and superior rivals towards the end of its lifespan. To compete with the Volkswagen Tiguan, Skoda Karoq and Hyundai Tucson, then, the latest third-generation Kuga needs to sparkle.

The original Kuga was one of the best-driving crossovers of the time (it was essentially a Ford Focus on stilts), but the second one lost some of that magic. Ford has decided to go back to its roots and make the Kuga appeal to keen drivers, and the result is that it doesn’t roll through corners like you’d expect an SUV would.

There’s a broad range of powertrains to choose from; two versions of a 1.5-litre petrol engine, three diesel engines and a new plug-in hybrid model that’s said to manage over 200mpg and 35 miles of battery-powered driving. The mid-range diesel, a 148bhp 2.0-litre engine, also features electrical assistance, which allows the stop-start system to cut in sooner to save fuel.

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 with Zetec. 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. Then there are the sporty ST-Line and ST-Line X 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.

The Kuga has already gained a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, which should be reassuring. However, Ford will hope the new Kuga improves the company’s position on our Driver Power survey; it came 23rd out of 30 manufacturers in 2019.

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