Ford Kuga SUV (2008-2012) review
“Good looking outside and nicely finished inside, the Kuga is an off-roader that’s designed to take Ford fans into previously uncharted territory.”
- Neat styling inside and out
- Enjoyable to drive
- Economical diesel
- Limited practicality
- Not designed for off-road use
- Quite expensive
Ford prefers to describe the Kuga as a ‘crossover’ rather than an SUV, and this accounts for some of its shortcomings in terms of practicality. The petrol-powered model is fast but thirsty, so the better choice is the 2.0 TDCi turbodiesel with its rounded, economical performance. There are Zetec and Titanium trims, and the former has all you need. A front-wheel-drive version is also available; this is good to drive and lowers running costs further still. The Kuga was given a very subtle facelift in 2010 with an updated grille and bumpers.
MPG, running costs & CO2
The diesel-engined Ford Kuga is one of the cleanest and most economical compact SUVs on the market, which means lower Road Tax and less frequent trips to the filling station pumps than in rivals. Sensible servicing prices help, too, as will the expected high residual value when you come to sell it. For maximum economy, go for the front-wheel-drive 2.0-litre TDCi diesel model – it has an official combined fuel consumption figure of 46.3mpg and a low tax band, thanks to decent CO2 emissions of 159g/km.
Engines, drive & performance
Unlike many of its off-roader-inspired competitors, the Kuga handles with unusual precision, making it the keen driver’s choice. The 2.5-litre petrol engine offers performance to rival a hot hatch, although you pay for that with poor fuel consumption. Pick a Kuga with the 2.0-litre TDCi diesel engine and you’ll get a better balance of performance and impressive economy – the official combined consumption figure is quoted at 44.1mpg. What’s more, if you choose the front-wheel-drive model, and you’ll improve that by around 2mpg, although you may regret it when the snow starts falling in winter.
Interior & comfort
The Ford Kuga is more driver focused than its rivals, but that’s not at the expense of comfort on the road. While the suspension is firm, it’s not uncomfortable. The interior is well designed up front, with supportive seats and an easy to read, clearly laid-out dashboard. Ford has even cut out a portion of the top of the door trim to make resting your arm on it comfortable. Wind noise is apparent at speed, as is some roar from the tyres.
Practicality & boot space
Practicality is what ultimately lets the Kuga down, because it serves up less boot space than the Focus hatchback. The rear seats aren’t especially generous on room, either, with taller passengers finding they are short of legroom. If carrying capacity is a priority, SUV competitors like the Nissan X-Trail will make a great deal more sense.
Reliability & safety
Every member of the Kuga family comes equipped with traction control and electronic stability control as standard, as well as front, side and curtain airbags. It hasn’t been in showrooms for long enough to have featured in many owner satisfaction surveys, although the huge-selling Focus – on which the Kuga is based – has performed well in such reports.
Price, value for money & options
At its launch, Ford boldy announced that the Kuga would be aiming squarely at the Volkswagen Tiguan – and it priced the lifestyle off-roader accordingly. That does make the car look a bit expensive, although Ford has equipped it to compensate. Smart items like keyless starting, an MP3 audio connection and alloy wheels feature as standard on all versions, while high-spec Titanium models add luxuries such as leather upholstery and dual-zone climate control.