Ford Kuga Review

Find out more about the Ford Kuga in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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2
Out of 5

Pros

  • Loads of space in the cabin
  • Rugged styling
  • Five-star safety rating

Cons

  • Interior practical rather than pretty
  • Dull to drive
  • Better rivals cost less
  • MPG

    31 - 54

  • CO2

    136 - 208 g/km

History

Crossovers and SUVs have taken over from large saloons and estates as the vehicles of choice for large families. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that the Kuga has sold well for Ford.

The latest generation was introduced in 2012 under the Blue Oval’s ‘One Ford’ philosophy, which used one vehicle design for all market segments to reduce costs. Just as its styling was starting to look a little outdated, the Kuga underwent a refresh in 2016.

Based on the same platform as the Focus, it’s offered with both front- and all-wheel drive. The wide range of the latter shows how the Kuga is rather bucking the trend for smaller crossover SUVs like the Nissan Qashqai by offering a little more space and off-road capability.

Latest model

The Ford Kuga underwent a facelift in early 2016 adding a new engine and updated styling.

Having been first released in 2012, it was in need of a bit of nip and tuck. Ford redesigned the grille, headlights and rear lights as well as a few other minor changes. Inside, the interior was refined a little with redesigned buttons and the addition of a heated steering wheel option.

In late 2016, Ford added the Vignale trim level to the top of the range, making the Kuga the latest car to feature the company’s VIP ownership experience. With this trim, buyers get unique paint and other styling touches not available on the rest of the range, and luxury leather inside.

Value for money

After the 2016 facelift, Ford introduced a few new features to the Kuga including adaptive cruise control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functions, powered tailgate, heated steering wheel and seats, and new alloy wheel designs.

The addition of Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system is a welcome upgrade for higher trims. It’s still far from the best out there but is a huge upgrade over the old system and brings touchscreen satellite navigation to the Kuga range.

Standard kit is impressive, with even the base Zetec model coming with 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless start and cruise control. The highest spec available is the Vignale, which starts at more than £30,000 for a more comfortable interior and unique styling cues.

The middle of the range is split into comfort- or sport-oriented design. Titanium and Titanium X models are focused towards comfort, while ST-Line and ST-Line X models take the spec a little further with the addition of sportier styling inside and out.

Optional equipment includes a heated steering wheel, retractable tow bar and hands-free tailgate.

The least expensive Kuga on sale is a Zetec model with a 1.5-litre petrol engine. Dive into the classifieds and there are massive bargains to be had with pre-facelift 2015 models. For a little over £20,000, there are plenty of top-spec Titanium X models with higher-powered diesel engines.

Looks and image

Following the 2016 facelift, the Kuga has smart and stylish looks that mean it holds its own against much newer rivals.

The original Kuga was a huge disappointment to drive, but the second generation, introduced in 2012, changed that. It’s still not the best in the market with the brilliant Mazda CX-5 and Volkswagen Tiguan proving tough adversaries to beat.

It’s great for long slogs on the motorway thanks to suspension that’s tuned with comfort in mind. However, this means it does lean a bit in the corners – rivals mentioned above hide their heft better.

Ford has a proud history in the UK, so buyers looking for something to earn respect out on the open road could do a lot worse than go for the Blue Oval.

Space and practicality

The original Kuga was a huge disappointment when it came to space and practicality. A bizarrely tiny boot and lack of storage areas made it a disappoint for big families, but Ford has remedied many of these issues for post-2012 cars.

There’s plenty of leg room in the rear seats, and even though both the Honda CR-V and Kia Sorento offer more, the Ford could still fit three adults across the back without a problem.

The boot measures 456 litres and that increases to 1,603 when the rear seats are folded down. There’s no lip on the boot and the wheel arches barely intrude, which means loading large items into the back is relatively easy.

Engines

There are a whopping 10 engine configurations available in the form of three petrols and seven diesels.

The petrol variants all come in the shape of a 1.5-litre EcoBoost, with three different power outputs available. The least powerful unit makes 118bhp, while the mid-range engine makes 148bhp – both achieve 44.8mpg on the combined cycle and emit 145g/km of CO2 and come with a manual gearbox.

The most powerful petrol makes 180bhp, with fuel economy of 37.7mpg and emissions of 173g/km of CO2. It has four-wheel drive and an automatic transmission.

The diesel range is wider, with a 118bhp 1.5-litre unit marking the entry point. It’s available as an auto making 58.9mpg and emitting 124g/km of CO2, and as a manual achieving 64.2mpg with emissions of 115g/km.

A 2.0-litre unit is also available and comes with either 148bhp or 178bhp, both manual and automatic transmissions, and two- and four-wheel drive. All but the two-wheel drive 148bhp engine achieve 54.3mpg on the combined cycle, with the former managing 60.1.

Running costs

The initial purchase price of the Kuga sees it sit in the middle of the range, with more premium rivals such as the Volkswagen Tiguan costing more, while the excellent Mazda CX-5 costs less. Ford offers great finance deals so you might find yourself a bargain.

Fuel economy is excellent across the range, with the 118bhp 1.5-litre diesel proving the cheapest to run. However, even some more powerful diesels still return good economy. If fuel price is a major concern, go for a two-wheel drive option, as four-wheel drive will see economy drop a little.

General maintenance costs should be low as Ford has a reputation for this, and a vast dealer network to look after your car wherever you are. New cars also come with a three-year warranty to help mitigate early servicing costs.

With the new road tax rules being implemented on all new cars bought after April 1, it’s worth thinking about whether it’s cheaper to buy a slightly older Kuga to save on that first year premium on polluting cars.

For example, the mid-range 148bhp 4x4 diesel will cost £200 in its first year then £140 a year thereafter, whereas it’ll simply cost £130 per year for cars registered before April. That means an older car will cost £90 less for tax over three years of ownership, and £110 less over five years.

Things to look out for

Facelifted models are too new to have thrown up any recurring problems, but 2008 to 2016 cars do come with a few problems.

One minor issue encountered by a number of owners is a squeaky spring in the driver’s seat. Dealers tend to just use WD40 to make it go away, but this is only a temporary fix, so be wary.

Other issues reported by owners, but which aren’t overly common, involve the engine’s electrical system. Drivers have complained about the engine going into limp mode, or needing a complete reset to fix massive drops in fuel economy.

Rivals

New to the market is the Seat Ateca. It benefits from being totally new and is based on the sublime Audi Q7, making it the best value SUV on the market. It looks great, has a solid interior and drives well – and it’s less expensive than the Ford.

Other rivals include the Mazda CX-5, which is rather dreary inside but comes with wonderfully smooth diesel engines, the Nissan Qashqai which looks great but feels cheap inside, and the Volkswagen Tiguan which is much pricier but feels infinitely more premium inside.

Depreciation warning

The Ford badge helps the Kuga retain value better than many of its competitors. The only SUV that loses less value over the course of ownership is the Volkswagen Tiguan, thanks to its more upmarket appeal.

Expect the Kuga to lose about half of its value over five years.

Which Kuga to Pick

Cheapest to Buy When New

1.5 EcoBoost 120 Zetec 5dr 2WD

Most MPG

1.5 TDCi Zetec 5dr 2WD

Fastest Model (0-60)

2.0 TDCi 180 Titanium Edition 5dr

Motors Choice

1.5 EcoBoost ST-Line 5dr 2WD

Trims Explained

There are six trim levels available on the Kuga. they are:

Zetec

The Zetec trim level comes with fairly decent kit despite its place as the entry level Kuga trim. On the outside, there are 17-inch alloy wheels, daytime running lights, front fog lights and heated wing mirrors.

Inside, the driver benefits from cruise control, leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear shifter and a Quickclear windscreen.

Titanium

The next trim up is Titanium. It gets Ford’s latest infotainment system, Sync 3, with integrated satellite navigation. There’s also extra leather, rain-sensing windscreen wipers and keyless entry.

The X package gets 18-inch alloy wheels, full leather and a panoramic roof.

ST-Line

The ST-Line trim comes with a sporty bodykit and 18-inch alloy wheels on the outside, and sports seats on the inside. There’s also a stiffer suspension for improved cornering ability on the road.

The X package gets 19-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats and a hands-free powered tailgate.

Vignale

The top-spec Vignale Kuga comes with 18-inch alloy wheels and a unique body kit, bi-Xenon headlights and LED rear lights. Inside, leather is everywhere, from the seats to the steering wheel.

A premium Sony stereo is also fitted.

Motors Choice

1.5 EcoBoost ST-Line 5dr 2WD

  • 1.5 L
  • Petrol
  • Manual
  • 150 BHP
  • 5 Door
  • SUV

Summary

  1. Priced in the middle of rivals, some better cars cost less
  2. It’s decent to drive but not overly rewarding
  3. Vignale trim makes it a good rival for more premium manufacturers
  4. Some older cars have electrical gremlins
  5. Good range of economical diesel engines
  6. Plenty of room for passengers
  7. Ford’s massive dealership network makes ownership and servicing easy
  8. Not affected too badly by new road tax rules
  9. Excellent deals to be had on pre-facelift 2015 models
  10. Five-star safety rating makes it ideal for families

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