The Ford Kuga is surprisingly good in bends, yet has traditional SUV benefits such as a high driving position and consequently a great view out. But some models are expensive to run
There are three different turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engines on offer, with 120, 150 and 176hp. Stick to the one of the lesser two power outputs and you’ll enjoy decent performance coupled with sensible running costs – the 176hp engine is quickest, but thirstiest with it.
On the diesel side you have the option of a 1.5-litre with 120hp, or a 2.0-litre with 120, 150 or 180hp. We’d suggest going for a diesel if you’re frequently driving on the motorway and the pick of the bunch is the 1.5, which has a enough get up and go to transport a family and its luggage, yet is also pleasingly frugal.
The Kuga’s most powerful petrol engine is also the slowest – go figure that one
For four-wheel drive in a petrol Kuga, you’ll have to go for the 176hp 1.5-litre petrol, or either the 150 or 180hp diesels, but fuel economy suffers in all cases. An automatic gearbox is available with the quickest 1.5 petrol and all three 2.0-litre diesel power outputs, but it isn’t as slick as the auto gearboxes in alternative family SUVs.
The Kuga’s towing capacity varies greatly depending on the model you choose – the four-wheel drive 180hp diesel can pull up to 2,100kg, compared with the 1,200kg the front-wheel drive 120hp petrol manages.
Although the Kuga is outclassed in a number of areas, it’s still one of the best-driving SUVs that you can buy for the price – only the Mazda CX-5 can compete with it.
Find yourself on your own on a country road and you’ll quickly discover the Kuga feels at home. Its well-weighted steering means it doesn’t feel nervous in bends, its body doesn’t lean excessively even if you corner quickly and the suspension is also pretty good at ironing out jiggly country roads.
Unless you go for the ST-Line or ST-Line X models that is, which have lowered suspension and big alloy wheels that skip over smaller bumps. They also make the Kuga feel uncomfortable on the motorway, which is a shame because it’s a relaxing car to cover a lot of miles in with standard suspaneion, even if the Skoda Kodiaq is even better at keeping wind and road noise outside.
Newer models such as the Kodiaq will also be safer than the Kuga – the Ford scored five-stars when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP, but the test is quite a bit tougher now. However you can boost safety with the Driver Assistance Pack, which includes automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, traffic sign recognition and headlights that dip automatically.
That pack’s a useful addition if you do a lot of town driving because it includes a blind spot warning system that warns of approaching vehicles that don’t appear in your mirrors. That said the Kuga’s height gives you a good view out over traffic and, although the steering is a little heavy, the rest of the controls are light enough to cause no problems when driving slowly.
Reversing into tight spaces is easier in Titanium cars and above that come with rear parking sensors as standard.