Ford Kuga Hybrid Review & Prices

The Ford Kuga PHEV is a plug-in hybrid SUV that’s great to drive and could be cheap to run. But it doesn’t feel particularly premium and you will have to charge it up regularly to get anywhere near promised MPG figures

Ford Kuga Hybrid alternatives
There are currently no deals for this model on Carwow, but you can find and compare great deals on new and used alternatives to the Ford Kuga Hybrid.
Reviewed by Carwow after extensive testing of the vehicle.

What's good

  • Roomy and practical
  • Efficient - if charged
  • Decent fun to drive

What's not so good

  • Reduced boot capacity
  • Only average electric range
  • Feels a little slow under acceleration

Find out more about the Ford Kuga Hybrid

Is the Ford Kuga Hybrid a good car?

The Ford Kuga is a family SUV that you’ll enjoy every journey in, because it’s a bit of a hoot to drive. It’s like a Ford Focus with a loftier viewpoint and greater practicality. And this plug-in hybrid version – called the Kuga PHEV – brings super-low running costs into the equation, too. Never mind having your cake and eating it, that’s the equivalent of buying the bakery as well.

We reckon the Kuga looks a little like a Focus that’s let itself go (a few pies as well as cake). The latest Kuga is at least 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 PHEV’s interior is similarly curvy, with a central touchscreen display prominently placed on the dash. The 8.0-inch screen is easy to use and comes with smartphone connectivity, and the air-con controls are physical buttons, which is good.

As for space, a trio 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.

The Kuga’s boot could be better, though, because it’s smaller than those in non-PHEV Kugas, which are already  smaller than those of many rivals in the first place. Still, it’s big enough for some suitcases and other holiday stuff, or a big weekly shop.

As with most PHEVs, whether or not you buy one depends on your daily motoring needs. So, if you have a short urban commute, consider it so you can benefit from short drives of electric-only driving. Bear in mind, however, that models such this Kuga PHEV are at their most efficient if they’re plugged in whenever you can, so basically every time it’s standing still. If you can’t charge, then there are petrol or ‘self-charging’ hybrid Kugas available - see here for our separate review.

The Kuga is decent to live with and drive, but you'll need to plug it in as much as possible to make it efficient to run

You should enjoy driving the Kuga plug-in hybrid. The combination of 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine and electric motor produces 225hp, and the Kuga can cover the 0-62mph sprint in 9.2 seconds before going on to a top speed of 125mph. So, not exactly thrilling. The 39-mile electric range is slightly better than it used to be, though, thanks to battery and electric motor improvements. 

But 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.

It’s efficient, too, with an official CO2 output of 32g/km and an average economy figure of 201.8mpg. Again, you’ll need to plug it in whenever possible if you’re to get anywhere near these figures, but it should be pretty thrifty if you’re careful. 

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, configure your Kuga Hybrid by tapping on the button below.

If you’d like a Kuga, you can check out our carwow special deals on all Kuga models, or browse our deals for the entire Ford lineup. We've also got a big selection of used Ford models, and when you're ready to put a deposit down on your new car, you can sell your current car through carwow.

How much is the Ford Kuga Plug-In Hybrid?

The most affordable model of the Kuga PHEV is around £7,000 less expensive than the cheapest Toyota RAV4 PHEV, arguably its closest rival. Now, that does mean taking into account that the Toyota has better standard equipment, goes considerably further on a full charge of its battery, and gets better fuel economy on longer runs. Then again, that £7,000 buys you a lot of petrol… The Kuga also has a price advantage over the Kia Sportage PHEV, but it’s less of an advantage — around £3,000 between the cheapest versions. The Kia has a more sophisticated interior, and a slightly better EV range, but the Kuga is much nicer to drive, and a little more economical on a long run. The Kuga also undercuts the price of the 225hp version of the Peugeot 3008 plug-in hybrid, but the 180hp version of the Peugeot is closer to the Ford’s price. 

Performance and drive comfort

The Kuga PHEV is one of the more satisfying mid-size SUVs to drive and it’s comfortable too, but the brakes can be snatchy around town and the steering has an odd ‘springy’ feel to it 

In town

The Kuga PHEV will always pull away in electric mode, so it’s silent at first, at least until you give the accelerator a good prod, which wakes up the petrol engine, but even then it’s not too noisy. The ‘pedestrian alert’ noise, which the Kuga makes when driving at low speed on electric power, is a bit annoying, though. 

Visibility is OK, but there are some thick pillars front and rear, so it helps if you’ve specced it with the optional surround-view camera system, but there are standard front and rear parking sensors, which does help. The little rotary gear selector makes switching from drive to reverse and back again pretty easy when you’re manoeuvring at low speeds. The only major issue is the brakes – because the Kuga PHEV uses regenerative braking (using the electric motor to slow the car down at first before switching to the normal brake discs) the pedal can feel a bit unnatural and grabby. It’s a common problem with plug-in hybrids, but the Kuga’s feels worse than many others.

The turning circle is fine – it’s about what you’d expect for a mid-size SUV like this, but it is noticeably less manoeuvrable than the Peugeot 3008. 

The Kuga PHEV’s suspension has to be slightly firmer than that of the standard versions to cope with the extra weight of the hybrid system, but even so, on very rough roads, it’s impressively comfortable, rounding off the edges of bumps rather nicely. 

On the motorway

The Kuga PHEV will get up to motorway speeds on electric power, assuming there’s plenty of charge in the battery and you’re suitably gentle with the throttle pedal. In fact, it can do up to 85mph on electric power – naughty. Obviously, longer journeys will burn through the battery charge and leave you driving on just the 2.5-litre petrol engine, which seriously hits your fuel economy, but we’ll discuss that in more detail below. 

As with Toyota’s RAV4 PHEV, the Kuga uses an automatic CVT gearbox, whose job is to hold the engine at its most efficient speed when you accelerate. That’s great, but it can mean that the engine drones noisily when you’re heading up a long motorway incline. The rest of the time, though, the Kuga is pleasantly refined and comfortable on long journeys. 

Standard equipment on all Kugas includes cruise control with lane-departure warning and lane-keeping steering, both of which help on long motorway drives, but you have to trade up to the £1,100 ‘Driver Assistance Pack’ if you want radar-guided cruise control.

On a twisty road

Ford tends to make cars that feel a bit sportier and more fun to drive than the average, but has it done so with the Kuga PHEV? Actually, yes — mostly. Considering that the PHEV is heavier than the standard Kuga, it deals with the extra weight really well, and it still turns nicely into corners, only washing wide when that extra weight starts to take over and overwhelms the grip of the front tyres. The Kuga PHEV actually feels quite sporty, certainly compared to the Kia Sportage PHEV, but the steering does have a slightly odd ‘springy’ feel to it. It’s not off-putting, really, but it is strange. Other than that, though, the Kuga PHEV handles pretty well for a large-ish family SUV. 

Space and practicality

There’s plenty of space in the back of the Kuga PHEV, and reclining rear seats too, but the boot is smaller than that of the other Kuga models, not to mention the Skoda Kodiaq 

Up front in the Kuga PHEV, there’s a small, but useful, storage box under the front seat armrest, and a shallow tray in front of that which can hold a mobile phone. You’d be better off putting your phone in the bigger storage area at the bottom of the dashboard, though, as that’s where the wireless phone charger is, if you’ve paid the £150 option price that is. To one side of the centre console, there are two reasonably big cupholders, which thankfully don’t get in the way of the gear selector when you’ve got a tall bottle of water or fizzy pop in them. There’s a sunglasses holder in the roof (don’t lose them in there…) and an average-sized glovebox. The door bins are well-sized, and can hold a large bottle of water. 

Space in the back seats

The Kuga PHEV is pretty spacious, so there’s generous knee-room in the back seats, and enough space under the front seats that you can stretch your feet out. There’s plenty of rear headroom too, even if you fit the optional panoramic glass roof, which normally robs headroom from the back of a car. There’s a small transmission hump, and the middle rear seat is reasonably wide, so you can get three adults across, but the centre seatbelt mount will jab anyone sitting in the middle in the… er, buttocks. The rear seats also slide back and forth, and recline, allowing you to trade off passenger comfort against boot space. You get seatback pockets and there are cupholders in the folding centre rear armrest, but these are pretty shallow and not very grippy, so prepare for spillage. The door bins in the back are also pretty small. On the plus side, the ISOFIX points in the back are easily accessible (no fiddly covers) and you can even have a three-pin socket for charging devices. The rear windows are a good size, but the sill is a little high so younger kids might struggle to see out, and the rear glass doesn’t wind all the way down. 

Boot space

A hands-free electric tailgate comes as standard on the Kuga, which opens when you waggle your foot under the rear bumper. At 475 litres, the boot of this PHEV model is a decent size, and will probably be fine for most, but that’s less than the 526 litres you get in the non-plug-in Kuga models. Don’t even get us started on the massive boot of the Skoda Kodiaq – 710 litres in five-seat form, or 630 if you go for the seven-seater. 

That said, the Kuga PHEV has no load lip, so heavy items are easy to get in and out, and you get tethering points, shopping hooks, and a 12-volt socket. You also get a space-saver spare wheel, and you can lower the back seats by tugging a handle inside the boot. They don’t fold entirely flat, but there’s no big, annoying gap between the boot floor and the seatbacks, so that helps when loading larger items. 

Interior style, infotainment and accessories

The older infotainment system used by the Kuga PHEV is actually pretty good, but some of the cabin looks and feels too cheap 

Unlike the smaller Focus hatchback, the Kuga PHEV hasn’t yet been upgraded with Ford’s latest-tech infotainment system, but that’s actually not necessarily a bad thing. The older system is still bright, and pretty easy to use. You get built-in satellite navigation, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connections, plus two USB sockets in the front so you can keep your phones charged. All Kuga models now come as standard with the all-digital instrument screen, and again it’s a bright, nicely-designed system that’s easy to use. The only issue is that, unlike you get with Volkswagen Tiguan’s digital instrument screen, you can’t call up a full sat nav map in the instruments. 

The driving position is very good, with lots of adjustability in the seat, if not quite as much in the steering wheel but you do at least sit absolutely dead straight and centre. The front seats are very comfortable and supportive. Build quality is… OK. Lots of the materials and plastics look and feel a bit cheap (the faux carbon-fibre trim you find in sporty ST-Line models is especially naff) but aside from a slightly wobbly centre console, the Kuga’s cabin is well put-together. We also like the fact that it still has simple, easy-to-use physical buttons for the air conditioning controls. 

Fuel economy, range, charging and tax

The Kuga PHEV has an electric-only range of 39 miles, a four-mile improvement on the earlier version. Using a 3kW three-pin plug at home, it will take around five hours to charge from empty to full, and a 7kW fast charger will cut this time to two hours. A charge to 80 per cent takes just 1.6 hours. Ford’s official fuel economy is over 200mpg, but you’ll never get near that unless you do 99.9999 per cent of your driving on electric power and only very occasionally wake up the petrol engine. When you are using the petrol engine, economy can be quite good — we got as much as 62mpg out of it in mixed driving — but it will fall to around 40mpg on a long motorway run. 

CO2 emissions of just 25g/km means that your first year VED cost is only going to be £80, and that’s basically for the first registration fee and the cost of numberplates. The actual VED rate is zero. Little wonder, then, that the Kuga PHEV would make a logical company car choice.

Safety & security

The Kuga PHEV gets an excellent five-star crash test rating from the independent Euro NCAP organisation, with a 92 per cent adult occupant rating, and 86 per cent for child occupants. Its ‘vulnerable road users’ protection rating is an exceptional 82 per cent, far better than most SUVs manage. 

All Kugas come with full LED headlights, front and rear headlights, a reversing camera, a quickclear heated windscreen, pre-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, cruise control with a speed limiter, and lane-keeping steering.

Reliability and problems

The Kuga generally sits about mid-table when it comes to car reliability surveys, which means that it does fine, with no major single weak points, but is generally a little less-bulletproof than its Japanese or Korean competition. 

Ford sells the Kuga with a three-year/60,000 mile warranty, with one year’s roadside assistance. For an extra cost, you can extend the warranty out to five years and 100,000 miles. The hybrid battery gets its own separate warranty for eight years and 100,000 miles.

Ford Kuga Hybrid alternatives
There are currently no deals for this model on Carwow, but you can find and compare great deals on new and used alternatives to the Ford Kuga Hybrid.