Ford Kuga Crossover full 9 point review
You have a choice of four engines in the Kuga. The 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel can be had in front- or four-wheel-drive form, while the 177bhp version is four-wheel-drive only. The higher-powered engine is smooth and responsive, if a bit flat at low revs. We haven’t tried either 1.5-litre petrol engine; one has 148bhp, front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox, while the 180bhp version comes with four-wheel drive and an automatic ’box. An automatic gearbox is an option on both diesels.
Ride & Handling
The Kuga deals with speed bumps well and big imperfections don’t upset things at high speeds, although the ride is fidgety over eroded town roads. The steering is responsive and nicely weighted, while body roll is noticeable but well restrained in normal driving. Overall, the Kuga isn’t the sharpest-handling SUV, but it’s relaxing and confidence-inspiring nonetheless.
The higher-powered 2.0-litre diesel engine is impressively settled at low revs. True, there’s more noise when you put your foot down, but it never becomes overly intrusive. Wind noise is noticeable, if nothing unusual for the chunky cars in this class, but the biggest issue at motorway speeds is the amount of tyre noise that enters the cabin. You feel a bit of vibration through the steering wheel and pedals at low speeds, but the manual gearshift is slick.
Safety & Security
Some Kugas offer the reassurance of four-wheel drive, but all have stability control to help keep you on the road in tricky conditions. Every version also gets seven airbags and a system that automatically alerts the emergency services if you have a crash. This all helped the car get the maximum five stars in its Euro NCAP crash test. Security experts Thatcham awarded the Kuga five out of five for its resistance to being stolen, and four out of five for its resistance to being broken into.
Buying & Owning
The Kuga sits in the middle of its class for purchase price – it’s cheaper than the likes of the VW Tiguan, but pricier than the equivalent Mazda CX-5. The two-wheel-drive models are the cheapest to buy and run for private and company buyers, but no Kuga is better than average for the class. Resale values are pretty good although, again, there are rivals that lose less value in depreciation.
Quality & Reliability
Interior finish differs depending on trim. Titanium models and above get a Sony stereo system that dominates the dashboard with its piano black finish, five-inch colour screen and an explosion of small fiddly buttons to control it. Entry-level Zetec versions get a slightly more drab finish and cheaper-feeling materials. This generation of Kuga was too new to be featured in the most recent JD Power customer satisfaction survey, but the old version was rated above average for reliability.
Behind The Wheel
Plenty of adjustment to the steering wheel and the supportive, low-set seat allows drivers of all sizes to get comfortable. Your over-the-shoulder view is compromised, but otherwise visibility is good. The heating and ventilation controls are easy to use, but sadly the infotainment system isn’t particularly intuitive, no matter if it’s the basic or upgraded set-up.
Space & Practicality
There’s a generous amount of legroom front and rear. Headroom is also impressive, although the panoramic sunroof (standard on Titanium X and Titanium X Sport versions) does eat into it slightly. Still, the rear seatbacks can be reclined via a lever to provide a bit more space. This same lever also drops the seats in one easy movement to create a longer, if slightly inclined, boot floor. It’s a shame the boot isn’t bigger with the seats up, however; many rivals offer more luggage space.
We’d go for an entry-level Zetec model, which comes with air-con, cruise control, a digital radio, Bluetooth, USB socket, 17-inch alloy wheels and a heated windscreen. Titanium is also worth a look; it gets an upgraded infotainment system, part-leather seats, dual-zone climate control and automatic lights and wipers, although it’s a shame that rear parking sensors aren’t standard. The more luxurious versions – Titanium X and Titanium X Sport – are too expensive to recommend.