Ford Kuga Review
The Ford Kuga is a spacious, practical family SUV that’s great to drive. You’ll find alternatives with nicer cabins, though, and better infotainment systems.
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The Ford Kuga is a family SUV with one trait that it holds above most other cars of its type: fun handling. It’s almost as sharp to drive as a Ford Focus, yet with the practicality and looks of an SUV. That’s what we call having your cake and eating it too.
We reckon the Kuga looks a little like a Focus that’s let itself go (too much of that cake). The latest Kuga is smarter than previous ones, with a large grille, piercing headlights and curves all over the place. Higher-spec models on larger wheels look more imposing but even lower trims wear their smaller alloys well.
The Kuga’s interior is similarly curvy, with a central touchscreen display prominently placed on the dash. The 8-inch screen is easy to use and comes with smartphone connectivity, which means it’s useful – and the air-con controls are physical buttons, which is good.
The new Kuga is bigger than the previous version, which means that there’s also more room inside. Adults will have to squeeze in to fit across the rear bench, but there’s enough legroom and headroom back there. The Kuga’s back bench also slides forwards and backwards to swap between legroom and boot space, and you can even have the outer seats heated.
Amongst other family SUVs, the previous Ford Kuga was a good looking car. Now, though, it’s even more distinctive to look at and its engine choices are bang up to date.
The Kuga’s boot could be better, though, as it’s a bit smaller than its main alternatives’ even with the sliding rear seat. Still, it’s big enough for some suitcases and other holiday stuff, or a big weekly shop.
With petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid, hybrid and mild hybrid options, there’s plenty of choice in the engine range. There’s a decent formula to choose which is right for you: if you have a short commute, consider the plug-in hybrid to benefit from the electric range. If you have a long commute, the diesel model will be good. If you’re not a commuter and use the car for various trips, a mild-hybrid petrol should offer the best balance of economy and smoothness.
Whichever Kuga you choose you’ll enjoy the driving experience. The sharp steering, plentiful grip and decent performance mean that it’s enjoyable to drive on country roads. Good visibility and a decent turning circle make it simple work in town, too, while it’ll prove comfy and quiet on the motorway.
The Ford Kuga is a big improvement over previous models and the value-for-money factor is there as long as you stick to the middle of the trim range. It’s comfortable, practical and full of kit – it’s just a shame the boot isn’t as big as we’d like.
If you don’t mind those minor negatives, head to our Kuga deals page to make sure you’re getting the best prices.
Or checkout the 10 top things you need to know about the Ford Kuga. Tap on the video below.
The Ford Kuga has plenty of room in the back seats, but we wish the boot was just a bit more spacious.
The driving position in the Ford Kuga is very good for an SUV, with supportive seats and plenty of adjustment. Tall adults won’t have any issue with headroom or legroom up front.
In the back, the Ford Kuga is really impressive as there’s loads of leg and headroom in the outset seats. The middle seats isn’t too bad, but it’s meant for short trips – but at least there’s a good amount of space for your feet.
The sliding rear bench means that if you’ve got kids in the back you can maximise boot space by pushing it forward, or if you have adults then you can move it back to improve legroom.
It’s relatively easy to fit a child seat in the Kuga as the back doors open wide enough and the standard Isofix anchor points use easy-to-remove plastic covers. The top of the door isn’t too low either, so most won’t need to stoop too low to do it.
There are a handful of cubbies around the Kuga’s cabin including a useful one at the base of the dashboard that will keep your phone safe while you’re using Android Auto or Apple CarPlay while plugged in via USB.
A central cubby will store anything you want out of sight, and the door bins are big enough for a medium-sized water bottle, if not quite one of the larger ones. The centre console has two good-sized cupholders with a small gap for some keys in the middle.
The Ford Kuga’s boot is quite variable in size. With the sliding seat all the way back there’s 412 litres at the smallest (in the PHEV version), increasing to 526 litres at a maximum (non-PHEV models) with the seat forward.
That’s smaller than many alternative cars of the same size, which is a shame. Still, there’s enough room for a big weekly shop or a few big suitcases. The rear seat backs split in a 60:40 configuration, so you can still have a rear passenger with something long in the boot.
With both sections folded the range of space available goes from 1,423 litres in the least spacious version of the Kuga to 1,534 litres in total in the more capacious petrol and diesel cars.
The Ford Kuga is great to drive, which is one of its most impressive aspects. It’s fairly heavy, though, especially in PHEV form.
There’s a huge engine range available in the Ford Kuga, so let’s start at the beginning: the cheapest model uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine with 120hp. There’s also a 150hp version of this engine. These engines are front-wheel drive only, and use a six-speed manual gearbox. You can expect around 40mpg, which isn’t too bad for a petrol SUV.
For long trips, a diesel will be more appropriate. Your best bet here will be the mild-hybrid model, which uses a 2.0-litre 4cyl diesel with 150hp with a tiny electric motor used to boost efficiency. This model returns about 55mpg and is punchy on the road, so it’s a decent choice. Other diesel options include a 190hp version of the 2.0-litre unit, without mild-hybrid tech, or a 120hp 1.5-litre motor.
The plug-in hybrid model uses a 2.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, delivering 225hp. This version will really suit some drivers but not others – if you can plug in all the time and use the electric motor only, it could be ultra-cheap to run. Yet if you don’t charge the batteries, it could be one of the least efficient models there is. It’s really up to the driver to make sure they’re plugging in.
Four-wheel drive is available on the 2.0-litre 190hp diesel, with an automatic gearbox. The PHEV model also uses an automatic gearbox, a CVT type that holds revs rather than having traditional gears as such.
The Ford Kuga is easy to drive, partly because of the decent visibility and partly because of its strong engines. The mild-hybrid diesel version is a good example: it has enough shove low in the rev range that you don’t have to change down a gear to speed up.
We’d go for a manual model in most cases, because the shift is precise and feels good to use. It adds to the fun of driving the Kuga, which is one of its strongest points. There’s a bit of body lean, but it’s not wayward at all, and the car has plenty of grip.
The steering is sharp and weighted nicely, just like in the Kuga’s lower brother, the Focus. It’s also very comfortable, thanks to that good driving position as well as nicely-judged suspension that absorbs bumps well.
The mild-hybrid system isn’t noticeable in most cases, so it’s not intrusive either. The plug-in hybrid’s near-silent running at low speed in EV mode is relaxing and makes it good for commuting in traffic.
The Ford Kuga is spacious for passengers, but it won’t have you weak at the knees with its interior quality, nor its infotainment system.