New Ford Kuga review

Category: Family SUV

The 2024 Kuga is a fine family SUV with a choice of hybrid engines and lots of standard kit

Ford Kuga front cornering
  • Ford Kuga front cornering
  • Ford Kuga rear cornering
  • George Hill test driving Ford Kuga
  • Ford Kuga boot open
  • Ford Kuga infotainment touchscreen
  • Ford Kuga front right driving
  • Ford Kuga front left static
  • Ford Kuga rear left static
  • Ford Kuga dashboard
  • Ford Kuga front interior
  • Ford Kuga front seats
  • Ford Kuga interior detail
  • Ford Kuga front cornering
  • Ford Kuga rear cornering
  • George Hill test driving Ford Kuga
  • Ford Kuga boot open
  • Ford Kuga infotainment touchscreen
  • Ford Kuga front right driving
  • Ford Kuga front left static
  • Ford Kuga rear left static
  • Ford Kuga dashboard
  • Ford Kuga front interior
  • Ford Kuga front seats
  • Ford Kuga interior detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

The Ford Kuga not only belongs to the super-fashionable family SUV class but also has added appeal because it's available with petrol, full hybrid or plug-in hybrid engine options, as well as several trim levels.

In other words, there’s a Ford Kuga for pretty much everyone. When you consider how crowded and competitive the family SUV class has become, that comprehensive approach could certainly work in the Kuga’s favour, but its rivals come in all forms.

For starters, those after a regular petrol or diesel engine might want to consider the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5 and Skoda Karoq. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a hybrid car, there’s the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Or, for something with a premium badge, there's the Volvo XC40.

Ford has recently given the Kuga an update for 2024, with a refreshed exterior design, new interior tech and revised trim levels. There are also minor revisions to the mechanicals, specifically for the hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions.

So how does the Ford Kuga stack up against the best family SUVs and is it the right car for you? Read on to find out...

Overview

The Ford Kuga is a strong contender in the family SUV class. It offers tidy handling, a spacious interior and plenty of standard kit, plus the hybrid (FHEV) version – our recommended engine – provides smooth performance and competitive running costs. Shortcomings include iffy interior quality and a relatively small boot.

  • Good to drive
  • Spacious in the back
  • Well equipped
  • Interior quality doesn’t impress
  • Relatively small boot
  • Busy low-speed ride on ST-Line trims
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Our Pick

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Ford Kuga 2.5 FHEV ST-Line 5dr CVT review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Strengths

  • +Strong performance
  • +Tidy handling
  • +Good refinement

Weaknesses

  • -ST-Line versions have firm suspension
  • -Hybrids are noisy under acceleration

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

The Ford Kuga PHEV (plug-in hybrid) is the one for company car drivers to go for because of its low emissions and official electric-only range of up to 43 miles.

Pairing a 2.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and a battery pack, it can sprint from 0-62mph in a respectable 7.3 seconds. That's quicker than the PHEV versions of the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage but the official electric-only range is less than some rivals, including the VW Tiguan PHEV (62 miles).

The 2.5 FHEV (full hybrid) is a better choice if you're buying privately and it’s the only version of the refreshed Kuga we’ve driven so far. It can pootle around for short distances without using the engine, plus it can tow up to 2,100kg (which is the same as the PHEV). Performance is decent, with 0-62mph taking 8.3 seconds for the four-wheel-drive version and 9.1 seconds with front-wheel drive.

The entry-level 1.5 EcoBoost petrol engine lets you tow 1,730kg. Its 0-62mph time of 9.5 seconds is far from being the most sprightly option in the range, but it will easily cope with fast-flowing roads. It’s also only available with a six-speed manual gearbox whereas the hybrid versions get CVT automatic gearboxes.

Suspension and ride comfort

The Kuga’s suspension set-up varies between trim levels. The entry-level Titanium trim gets the standard set-up, while ST-Line trim gets a firmer, sportier set-up. The more rugged Active trim gets a raised suspension to improve the ground clearance.

Ford Kuga image
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So far, we’ve driven the ST-Line version, which comes with the stiffer suspension. While it allows the Kuga to follow the contours of the road more closely especially on faster roads, it does lead to a busier ride at low speeds. Mind you, it’s far from intolerable, and settles down better than a Hyundai Tucson on motorways.

Ford Kuga rear cornering

Handling

The steering is very quick, which makes the Kuga feel eager to turn in to corners, but it has a consistent desire to self-centre. It's a gentle sensation but an unnatural one, and doesn't help to put you at ease while guiding the car through quicker turns that require a deft touch. 

This is a tall car, but the Kuga FHEV hides its bulk well. It stays nicely flat in the corners, which we suspect is helped by the sports suspension fitted to our ST-Line test car.

Noise and vibration

The Kuga manages to filter out road and engine noise quite well, with just a faint rumble at speed over coarse surfaces on versions with larger wheels. There’s very little wind or suspension noise. Overall, the Kuga is more hushed than a Mazda CX-5 on the move.

In pure-electric mode, the Kuga FHEV moves around stealthily, and even when the petrol engine fires up, you won’t find it intrusive as long as you don't put your foot down hard. If you do, the noise picks up because the CVT gearbox causes the engine revs to soar and stay high until you're up to your desired speed.

The Kuga's brake pedal is pretty consistent. The FHEV model's regenerative braking (which harvests power for the battery) doesn't feel too grabby.

"The Kuga is a quiet cruiser, generating very little wind and road noise at motorway speeds. Engine noise is reasonably muted in normal driving only becoming an issue under hard acceleration." – Will Nightingale, Reviews Editor

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Strengths

  • +High driving position
  • +Large infotainment screen
  • +Digital driver’s display fitted as standard

Weaknesses

  • -No physical climate controls
  • -Interior quality poor in places

Driving position and dashboard

The good news for lovers of tall SUVs is that the Ford Kuga has a relatively lofty driving position, so you sit high up. The driver’s seat is supportive and there’s plenty of adjustment, including for lumbar support on all trims, as well as generous levels of steering wheel height and reach movement. 

All versions come with a 12.3in digital driver's display as standard. With sharp graphics, it displays important driving information clearly (including battery charge on the PHEV model) and its contents can be customised to your preference.

Unfortunately, the climate controls are now integrated into the infotainment touchscreen (previously, there was a bank of physical buttons and dials for these). That's a shame because the new set-up is more distracting to use while driving, with small icons for adjusting functions such as the fan speed or temperature.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

The Kuga's front pillars are quite wide, so they can restrict forward visibility in certain circumstances, such as when approaching roundabouts. The rear pillars are rather chunky too, and sometimes block your view of obstacles behind.

On the plus side, every Kuga comes with front and rear parking sensors as standard, and the entry-level Titanium trim gets a rear-view camera. ST-Line trims and up get a 360-degree camera as standard.

All versions come with bright LED headlights as standard, but these can be upgraded to adaptive LED headlights (as part of a Technology Pack), which allow you to keep the main beams on without dazzling oncoming drivers.

George Hill test driving Ford Kuga

Sat nav and infotainment

You get a large 13.0in touchscreen infotainment system on all Kuga models. It’s relatively straightforward to use, with a quick touchscreen response and sharp graphics, much like the system in the Kia Sportage and VW Tiguan. The Mazda CX-5 provides a more user-friendly rotary controller interface instead of relying on the touchscreen, so it's less distracting to operate while you're driving.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring are included with all Kugas, allowing you to run sat-nav apps and other phone features through the car's touchscreen.

Quality

You'll find more hard, shiny and unappealing plastic inside the Kuga than you will in most of its family SUV rivals.

There are some soft-touch plastics, such as on the top of the dashboard and above the door armrests, but they don't feel as dense or plush as their equivalents in a Mazda CX-5. Premium-badged alternatives such as the Audi Q5, the BMW X3 and the Volvo XC40 display far more panache inside and feel better assembled.

"The Kuga's digital instrument panel is bright and clear, but it’s limited in what it can show. You'll have to pay £900 for a head-up display, which is part of the Technology Pack." – Lawrence Cheung, New Cars Editor

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Strengths

  • +Spacious back seats
  • +Tilting and sliding rear seats are useful
  • +Loads of interior storage space

Weaknesses

  • -Boot on the small side
  • -Some rivals offer more seat flexibility

Front space

The Ford Kuga is one of the more spacious family SUVs. You’ll find that the wide interior gives you plenty of space up front, plus the high roofline gives you a decent amount of front head room. Leg room, meanwhile, is very generous, so it’s pretty easy to get comfortable.

The large cubby at the bottom of the centre console is big enough for your mobile phone and wallet, and there are two charging ports for charging your devices (a USB and a USB-C).

Between the front seats, there are two large cupholders along with a dish for storing change or keys, and the central armrest opens to reveal a deep storage bin and a 12V socket. The front door pockets are quite narrow though, and a 500ml bottle of drink is about as much as you can fit in there.

Rear space

Space in the back of the Kuga is generous, with more room than you’ll find in the Citroën C5 Aircross. In fact, it's not far off the Kia Sportage (which is very spacious in the back), although the panoramic roof on ST-Line X models eats into head room slightly.

Two tall adults will have no problem getting comfortable, and a third occupant between them should have enough head and leg room, although the middle seat is slightly raised.

The middle passenger will need to straddle the central floor hump, but there’s more space for feet on either side of it than in the Sportage and Hyundai Tucson. Reasonably tall rear side windows let in enough light to stop it feeling claustrophobic in the back.

Ford Kuga boot open

Seat folding and flexibility

All Kuga models have rear seats that tilt and slide forwards and backwards, so you can prioritise boot space or passenger knee room depending on your needs. They are also heated if you opt for the ST-Line X trim, or add the optional Winter Pack.

The rear seats can be folded down in a 60/40 split by pulling levers on the walls of the boot compartment, to give you more luggage space. That split matches the Nissan Qashqai but isn’t as handy as the more versatile 40/20/40 split in an Audi Q5, BMW X3, Hyundai Tucson or Kia Sportage.

Once the seats are down, they lie almost flush with the boot floor, making it easy to slide long or heavy items in and out, although they don’t lie quite as flat as in the Sportage and Tucson.

Boot space

The Kuga's boot capacity is rated at 412 litres with the second row of seats in their normal position, and 553 litres with the seats slid forwards. In the normal configuration, the boot is smaller than the petrol-powered Sportage (591 litres) and Qashqai (504 litres).

There is some space under the floor, which is useful in the PHEV to stow its charging cables, but if you add the mini spare wheel, that disappears and the charging cables take up some boot space.

Capacity aside, the boot has its strong points. There's no lip at the entrance to get in the way when you're lifting heavy items in and out, and the boot floor is a square shape, unhindered by wheel-arch intrusion. A hands-free electric tailgate comes with any trim level above the entry-level Titanium.

"The Kuga’s boot is a good, square shape, but it’s well behind its rivals for size. On the plus side, the rear seats can tilt or slide forwards to create more space – a feature the Nissan Qashqai doesn’t offer." – Stuart Milne, Digital Editor

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Strengths

  • +Well equipped
  • +Plenty of standard safety kit
  • +FHEV version's competitive official fuel economy

Weaknesses

  • -Expensive
  • -Hybrid's reliability
  • -Some PHEVs can do more electric-only miles

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

For cash buyers, the 1.5 Ecoboost 150 petrol Ford Kuga is competitively priced against the Hyundai Tucson, but doesn’t offer the same value for money as the Kia Sportage, Nissan Qashqai or Skoda Karoq. The Citroën C5 Aircross and MG HS are considerably cheaper than the Kuga.

Meanwhile, the PHEV model is closely matched for pricing with the Kia Sportage PHEV, but the FHEV full hybrid version is more than the Sportage FHEV. It's worth checking the latest prices on our New Car Deals pages for the latest cash and PCP deals. 

Company car benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax for hybrid vehicles is based on official CO2 emissions and electric-only driving range. The Kuga PHEV is good enough on both to compete with the Tucson, making it a strong choice. Petrol Kugas will be liable for steeper company car tax bills.

Charging the PHEV’s batteries takes 3.5 hours from a 7kW home wallbox or around six hours if you use a three-pin domestic plug.

The Kuga petrol can achieve an average of 44.8mpg officially, but this figure lifts to 53.3mpg for the front-wheel drive FHEV, 49.6mpg for the four-wheel drive FHEV and 314.9mpg for the PHEV. With the PHEV, it's best to keep the battery topped up as much as possible if you want the cheapest fuel bills.

Equipment, options and extras

The Kuga's entry-level Titanium trim comes with a long list of standard kit, including a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear lever, cruise control, 17in alloy wheels, privacy glass, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera and a heated windscreen. It's a good choice if you want to keep costs down, but isn't available with the FHEV or PHEV version.

You get a few more luxuries with ST-Line and Active trims, which come with the same amount of standard kit but differ stylistically. Both add 18in alloys, automatic climate control, a 360-degree surround-view camera, 12-way electrically adjustable front seats and a powered tailgate. ST-Line offers sportier styling, sports seats and a stiffer suspension set-up, while Active gives you chunky wheel-arch cladding and a raised suspension set-up.

ST-Line X is the range-topping trim and adds 19in alloys, a panoramic roof, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, as well as the same styling and suspension changes as the regular ST-Line trim.

Ford Kuga infotainment touchscreen

Reliability

Ford finished in 17th place out of 32 car markers in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey – above Nissan (19th) and Renault (23rd), but below Kia (eighth) and Hyundai (seventh). The Kuga, on the other hand, came in the bottom half of the large SUV reliability table, finishing in 19th place out of 29 models.

You get a three-year/60,000-mile Ford warranty included as standard, which is pretty par for the course. Indeed, it matches what you’ll get from Mazda and VW, but isn’t as generous as the seven-year/100,000-mile warranty you’ll get from Kia. On top of the standard warranty, the batteries in the Kuga PHEV are covered for eight years/100,000 miles.

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, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-departure warning are all standard on ST-Line trim upwards.

Euro NCAP awarded the Kuga five stars (out of five) for overall safety in 2019, and the model scored well for adult and child crash protection. The Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage also scored five stars, but it’s impossible to compare the results because the tests have become more stringent over time and all three were tested in different years.

"The front-wheel-drive Kuga FHEV has a competitive official fuel economy rating of 53.3mpg. That's slightly better than a comparable Kia Sportage or Hyundai Tucson, although these figures will differ in real-world driving." – Dan Jones, Reviewer


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FAQs

  • The Kuga is not available as an electric car but it is available with full hybrid (FHEV) or plug-in hybrid (PHEV) engine technology. The PHEV version can officially travel up to 43 miles on electric power alone. The FHEV model can travel for very short distances without using any fuel.

  • The full hybrid (FHEV) version is the best choice for private buyers because it has plenty of power and its low running costs should keep your fuel bills down. You’ll need to go for the ST-Line trim, but that’s not a bad thing because it’s our chosen trim.

At a glance
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Target Price from £30,349
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RRP price range £32,095 - £42,455
Number of trims (see all)4
Number of engines (see all)4
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol, petrol parallel phev, hybrid
MPG range across all versions 313.9 - 52.3
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £567 / £2,572
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £1,134 / £5,144
Available colours