Ford Kuga 4x4 performance
The majority of buyers opt for the 2.0-litre TDCi diesel engine, which is available with either 148bhp or 178bhp. Both engines are a little flat at low revs but build speed fairly swiftly when the turbocharger kicks in at around 1800rpm. The higher-powered version, unsurprisingly, delivers a bit more of a kick when you put your foot down hard, but it isn't worth the premium.
If you’re after maximum miles to the gallon, consider the entry-level 1.5-litre diesel. With only 118bhp, it struggles a bit when fully laden with people and bags, but is adequate most of the time and keeps the Kuga's price way south of better rivals such as the Mazda CX-5 and Peugeot 5008. In fact, if you're a company car driver, it's the engine we'd recommend. Just bear in mind that you can only have the 1.5 diesel engine with front-wheel drive.
A 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine is also available, with either 118bhp, 148bhp or 180bhp. The more modestly powered versions are available only with front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox, with the most potent unit coming with four-wheel drive and an automatic 'box as standard. The 118bhp version is your best bet if you're buying privately – particularly if you don't do many miles.
If you need to tow, four-wheel-drive diesel versions of the Kuga can pull a braked trailer weighing up to 2.1 tonnes. By contrast, the 1.5-litre diesel with front-wheel drive can only pull a measly 1.2 tonnes.
Ford Kuga 4x4 ride
Speed bumps and smooth-edged undulations are no problem at all for the Kuga, which deals easily with bigger bumps and without too much pitching and wallowing. The car keeps close check on its body movements at all times, so there's no nausea-inducing body bounce along country roads..
However, the Kuga doesn't deal so well with patched-up town roads and coarser surfaces, making the car shimmy and shudder subtly. ST-Line models, with their sports suspension, make things even more jittery, so are best avoided.
Ford Kuga 4x4 handling
Ford’s line-up includes some of the best-handling cars on the planet, but sadly the Kuga isn’t one of them. Yes, it stays more upright than many rivals (including the CX-5 and Skoda Kodiaq) through tight twists and turns, but it also feels comparatively nervous since its front tyres try to follow every camber in the road and its steering is far too keen to self-centre.
You might imagine that adding sports suspension (standard on ST-Line trim) and big wheels would improve the handling, but we'd actually recommend avoiding this combination. With 17in alloys (standard on Zetec and Titanium trims) and regular suspension, the Kuga feels at its most stable and composed.
Ford Kuga 4x4 refinement
The 2.0 diesel engines are impressively hushed at low revs. True, the noise picks up when you put your foot down, but it never becomes intrusive. The petrol engines are even quieter and smoother at low engine speeds, but can sound a little thrashy if you rev them hard.
Meanwhile, the Kuga's gearshift and clutch have light but positive actions, making it relatively easy to pull away and change gear smoothly. Wind noise isn't too bad by class standards, although you will notice more road noise on the motorway than you would in an equivalent CX-5 or Kodiaq – especially on versions with big alloys.