Ford Kuga SUV review
"Like most Fords, the Kuga is rather good to drive – although, it’s beginning to feel outdated next to rivals"
- Good to drive
- Handy sliding rear bench
- Strong hybrid models
- Rivals are more spacious
- Limited engine range
- Uninspiring interior
Is the Ford Kuga a good car?
As you’d expect from a car from the Blue Oval, the Ford Kuga is a competent family SUV that appeals thanks to its sporty driving characteristics. It looks stylish – especially in racy ST-Line trim – however, given the current Kuga has been on sale since 2019, it’s already feeling outdated compared with rivals boasting even more spacious and tech-laden interiors.
Ford Kuga range
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 family 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 three distinct powertrains to pick from: a 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol, a self-charging 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 Zetec model acting as the entry point into the range. Considering its base-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.
Our pick of the lineup would be the mid-spec Titanium Edition; this adds lots of useful kit such as LED lights, dual-zone climate control and a premium speaker system, plus that 12.3-inch digital dial display. ST-Line Edition and ST-Line X Edition models add a sportier bodykit and a smattering of extra equipment, while the range is topped by the luxurious and fully-loaded Kuga Vignale.
Ford has outfitted the Kuga with a clever set of sliding rear seats, allowing you to prioritise either boot or passenger space. Offering 526 litres of cargo room with the rear seats pushed forwards, it’s average in terms of practicality, beating the SEAT Ateca but falling short of the spacious Skoda Karoq.
Family buyers will be reassured by the Kuga’s five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. However, Ford will hope the Kuga's decent satisfaction ratings (33rd place out of 75 models) will be enough to convince buyers, as the brand as a whole finished a disappointing 25th out of 29 manufacturers in our Driver Power survey.
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.