The 2013 Ford Kuga is an all-new version of Ford's SUV, and the latest model in the company's line-up to go global; it will be sold in Europe, Asia and North America in pretty much the same form.
It has been re-engineered from the ground up, and is both longer and roomier inside than the model it replaces.
The latest Kuga also gets a bold new look, 96 litres more boot space and a selection of new features, including a kick-operated tailgate. This is our first drive of the new Kuga in the UK.
What's the 2013 Ford Kuga like to drive?
There will be four engine options at launch (two petrols and two diesels); Ford expects the higher-powered diesel to be the biggest seller.
This 161bhp 2.0-litre unit is carried over from the previous Kuga, and is generally smooth. True, there's some noise from it when you put your foot down, but it never becomes overly intrusive.
Overall refinement is good, although some wind noise is noticeable around the sides of the car and the door mirrors.
The 161bhp diesel model isn't especially quick, with 0-62mph taking 9.9 seconds, but it pulls strongly and smoothly, so isn't fazed by hills or heavy loads.
We also tried the turbocharged 1.6-litre Ecoboost petrol engine, which showed potential, but was hampered by the poor automatic gearbox fitted to our test car.
While the diesel gets a dual-clutch 'box, the petrol has to make do with conventional and sluggish six-speed automatic transmission, which allows the engine revs to rise to quickly and is continually hunting around for the best gear to be in.
It's a pity, because when the 'box does finally settle, the 1.6 Ecoboost is quiet and offers plenty of pull and pace.
The Kuga also has pleasingly sharp steering. Unfortunately, its agility is undermined by the large amount of body roll that it suffers from when cornering at speed. This new version doesn't feel as nimble or sporty as its predecessor.
Instead, the new Kuga has a more mature, family-friendly feel than the old car, and that extends to the ride, which is impressively composed. You do hear some suspension thud over sharper bumps, but comfort rarely suffers.
What’s the 2013 Ford Kuga like inside?
One of the biggest problems with the old Kuga was its small boot, but capacity has risen from 360 litres to 456 litres for the new model. The space is well shaped, too, and there's no entry-lip to load items over.
Just bear in mind that you only get all this extra space if you go for a tyre repair kit; stick with the standard steel spare wheel and there's 406 litres, which is still a long way behind most rivals.
The rear seats drop in one easy movement, although they don't fold completely flat - there's a pronounced step between the cabin and boot - and it's a shame there's no Mazda CX-5-style handle that lets you lower them from the boot.
The rear passengers get a decent amount of legroom, although there's not enough to let a six-foot adult slouch. A very low central tunnel provides decent space for a central passenger's feet, and headroom is good in both the front and rear, as long as you avoid the optional sunroof.
Up front, the dashboard is remarkably similar to a Focus's, and shares most of the same switchgear. It's smart enough, but the centre console is far too fussy, and many of the buttons are small and poorly labelled. The infotainment system is rather fiddly, too, and the sat-nav screen is small compared with the previous model's.
Should I buy one?
The new Ford Kuga has addressed some of the problems with the previous version, but it doesn't go far enough and, unlike its predecessor, it's not especially enjoyable to drive.
The similarly-priced Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V are both more practical, and better all-rounders.
What Car? says…
Our reviews are based on hard data and thorough testing in the real world.
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