Costs & verdict
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
Cheaper, petrol-powered Kugas are competitively priced against many large SUV rivals, such as the Peugeot 5008, although the Citroën C5 Aircross still offers better value for money to cash buyers. The PHEV model, meanwhile, substantially undercuts other plug-in hybrid SUVs, such as the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. The Kuga is cheaper than many of its rivals on a monthly PCP deal, too, whether in petrol, diesel or electrified guise.
Under the latest company car tax rules, benefit-in-kind tax (BIK) for hybrid vehicles is based on both the official CO2 emissions and electric-only driving range. The Kuga PHEV's good on both, so secures a lower BIK than the Outlander PHEV and Volvo XC40 T5 Recharge. Petrol and diesel Kugas will be liable for much steeper company car tax bills, although their CO2 emissions are lower on a like-for-like basis compared with rivals such as the Mazda CX-5.
Charging the PHEV’s batteries takes 3.5 hours from a 7kW home wall-box, or around six hours if you use a three-pin domestic plug. If you keep the battery topped up and do mainly shorter journeys your fuel costs will be negligible, and when its run out and you're left with mainly the petrol engine, you can expect up to 50mpg with careful driving on a mix of roads. That's pretty good, and why we think the PHEV is the pick of the range.
Equipment, options and extras
Zetec is the entry-level trim level. Even this provides a long list of standard kit, including a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear lever, cruise control, automatic lights, 17in alloy wheels, privacy glass, power-folding door mirrors and a heated windscreen. It's a good choice if you're looking to keep costs down.
But if you want the plug-in hybrid version, you’ll have to step up to Titanium trim. This adds 18in alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, part-leather seats and automatic wipers. It's our pick of the range; not just because it's well equipped, but also because ST-Line trim is pricier and brings mainly sporty styling additions and stiffer suspension, which, as we've mentioned, degrades the ride.
ST-Line X adds 19in alloys, a panoramic roof and heated front seats, while the top Vignale trim adds plenty more luxuries, including a head-up display and heated steering wheel. Both trims are too pricey to recommend, though.
Ford achieved a mid-table result in the 2019 What Car? Reliability Survey, finishing 14th out of 31 manufacturers. That's below Honda, Skoda and Toyota, but better than Citroen, Mazda and Peugeot. The Kuga was too new to feature individually in the survey, but the Ford Focus, on which it's based, didn’t score too well in the family car class.
At least a three-year or 60,000-mile warranty is included as standard, while the batteries of plug-in hybrid models are covered by a separate eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
Safety and security
The Kuga is well provisioned with safety kit. Lane-keeping assistance comes as standard, as does automatic emergency braking (AEB), which can stop the car automatically if it senses an imminent crash. Blind spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition and adaptive cruise control are available as part of the pricey Driver’s Assistance Pack.
Euro NCAP awarded the Kuga five stars (out of five) for overall safety. It scored well for adult and child crash protection, but the rival Toyota RAV4 did a better job in such areas as adult chest protection and child head protection.
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