Ford Kuga Vignale (2016-2019) review
With its plush fixtures and fittings the Ford Kuga has levels of luxury you’d find in much plusher brands, but it’s expensive for a Ford and not the most spacious of SUVs
What's not so good
Ford Kuga Vignale (2016-2019): what would you like to read next?
The Ford Kuga Vignale is the most expensive and most lavishly equipped model in the Kuga SUV range. Along with similarly posh Vignale versions of other models, it’s part of Ford’s ambitions to move a little upmarket. As a result, the Kuga Vignale provides the levels of luxury you’d expect to find in models such as the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC, but at a lower price.
So, the Kuga Vignale has been kitted out with lashings of chrome trim outside that makes it look more upmarket, while inside you get soft quilted leather seats, a leather-wrapped dashboard and a noise-cancellation system that makes the interior even quieter.
The Vignale was introduced at the same time as a series of revisions across the Kuga range in 2017, so that it means it has the refreshed interior design, with fewer buttons than before.
The uncluttered dashboard is centred around an eight-inch touchscreen that includes Ford’s latest Sync 3 software. It has smartphone-style functionality, meaning you can pinch and swipe to navigate through menus. Ford claims that the voice recognition is more advanced than ever – understanding conversational speech – but we reckon simple commands still work the best.
The cabin is just about big enough to take five adults and their luggage, but if space is your ultimate priority, then a Skoda Kodiaq will suit you better. Although the Ford is pretty spacious in the front, the Skoda has more room in the back and the boot. But, if you don’t need the biggest boot, the Kuga’s is at least easy to use, as it’s a practical square shape and there’s no lip to lift luggage over.
Kuga Vignale or Audi Q5? It’s a bit like deciding between Tesco Finest and Waitrose.
Given the Vignale’s position at the top of the Kuga range, it’s only natural that it should be available with three top-of-the-range engines – one petrol and a 2.0-litre diesel with either 148 or 178hp. With fuel economy of 60.1mpg, the 148hp diesel is more fuel-efficient than upmarket rivals with equivalent power, although it comes with two-wheel drive rather than the four-wheel drive fitted to the more powerful models.
Fuel economy isn’t a strong point of the 178hp 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol because its relatively small capacity means you need to rev it hard to get any meaningful performance. As a result, the already unimpressive fuel economy of 38mpg will be hard to match in the real world.
As with the engines, so the standard equipment fitted to the Vignale reflects its position as the most expensive Kuga you can buy. On top of the aforementioned luxury upgrades, there’s also a huge raft of safety systems fitted as standard including adaptive lighting and Active City Stop that works at speeds of up to 31mph.
Trouble is, no matter how much equipment its maker throws at the Kuga, it still has a Ford badge on its nose – and that just doesn’t have as much cachet as an Audi, BMW or Mercedes badge. Which makes spending so much on a Kuga seem rather less attractive.