Ford Kuga Titanium review
The mid-range Titanium trim adds desirable equipment to the Ford Kuga for a small increase in cost
The Ford Kuga is a medium-sized SUV with five seats that's known for its stylish looks and a sharp drive. It's available in five core trim levels: Zetec, Titanium, ST-Line, ST-Line X and Vignale. Titanium offers more convenience and luxury features than the standard trim, while ST versions add a sporty edge. Vignale is rather lavish for a mainstream SUV, and sits at the top of the range.
All-new for 2020, the third-generation Kuga sits above the Ford EcoSport and Ford Puma in the manufacturer's SUV line-up, making it the most family-friendly SUV the blue oval currently offers. Its design has evolved and now reflects the looks of the latest Focus and Puma, with an instantly recognisable trapezoidal grille and high-set headlights.
Titanium upgrades the Kuga's alloy wheels from 17-inch items to 18-inch 'machined' alloys and brings full LED headlights, LED fog lamps and a chrome grille. The Kuga also gets silver roof rails and privacy glass as standard, along with power folding door mirrors, a rear spoiler and twin exhaust tailpipes. These combine to give the Kuga Titanium an upmarket look, and give it a separate character to the ST-Line trims.
The interior upgrades are where the Titanium really appeals, though. You don't have to worry about fumbling for keys because you can keep them in your coat pocket or handbag, get in and start the Kuga, thanks to keyless entry and go. The headlights and windscreen wipers set themselves, there's a dimming rear-view mirror and ambient lighting at night. Dual-zone climate control keeps occupants at their preferred temperature and sports seats are fitted with part-leather trim. You also gain an eight-way adjustable passenger seat with lumbar and height settings.
Meanwhile, the instrument cluster is upgraded with a 4.2-inch colour information display (6.5-inches in the PHEV version) and music lovers will appreciate the B&O sound system upgrade, with 10 speakers and a subwoofer for richer bass. On long journeys, safety is also improved by a Driver Impairment Monitor, which provides an alert if the system detects the driver is drowsy or distracted.
Sitting at the heart of the Kuga range, the Titanium is available with a wide range of petrol and diesel engines, along with a plug-in hybrid. However, the entry-level petrol 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine with 118bhp is reserved for just the entry-level Zetec trim. For Titanium, the same engine gets 148bhp, and we think this is a more suitable power level for an SUV. This is also our pick if you plan on mostly local driving.
Buyers can also choose a diesel, starting with a 1.5-litre EcoBlue engine with 118bhp, available with either a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed automatic, for around £1,500 more. Both are front-wheel drive. There's also a 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engine with 148bhp that uses mild-hybrid hardware to help keep running costs low - an ideal choice for motorway and high-mileage drivers. If you'd prefer the best performance and towing ability instead, this engine is also offered with 188bhp and four-wheel drive, but it sits in the top Benefit-in-Kind band for company-car drivers.
Business drivers are likely to prefer the Kuga plug-in hybrid, which uses a 2.5-litre petrol engine, electric motor and battery pack to manage an official figure of over 200mpg, helped by up to 35 miles of electric range. CO2 emissions are just 32g/km.
One of the highlights of the Kuga is its chassis, which makes it one of the better SUVs to drive. Tuned with road driving rather than off-roading in mind, there's very little body lean in corners, and the steering is positive and precise. While it may not be a sports car, this means drivers can tackle twisty roads with confidence.
Take a look at Ford's price list and Titanium appears to be a sensible step up from the entry-level Zetec. While the upgrade costs around £1,600, the improved sound system, larger wheels, dual-zone climate control and nicer seats would cost considerably more if added individually. Handy features like keyless entry can also make a big difference to the ownership experience.