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 obviously 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 well south of better rivals, such as the Mazda CX-5 and Skoda Kodiaq. In fact, if you're a company car driver, it's the engine we'd recommend. Just bear in mind you can only have the 1.5-litre 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 version are available only with front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox, while the most potent comes 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 tow a measly 1.2 tonnes.
Ford Kuga ride comfort
Speed bumps and smooth undulations are no problem at all for the Kuga, which easily deals with bigger bumps and without too much pitching and wallowing. The car keeps close check on its body movements at all times and stays more flat and level than plenty of other SUVs.
However, there’s quite a bit of patter over scruffy, patched-up town roads and coarser high-speed surfaces, making the car shimmy and shudder subtly. On the other hand, ST-Line models with their sports suspension makes things even more jittery, so are best avoided.
Ford Kuga 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 Skoda Kodiaq and Mazda CX-5) through tight twists and turns, but it also feels comparitively nervous as its front tyres try to follow every little 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 actually feels at its most stable and composed.
Ford Kuga refinement
The 2.0-litre diesel engine is impressively settled at low revs. True, the noise picks up when you put your foot down, but it never becomes intrusive. The 1.5-litre petrol engines are even quieter and smoother, but can sound a little thrashy if you rev them to the redline.
Meanwhile, the Kuga's gearshift and clutch have llight but positive actions, making it relatively easy to pull away and change gear smoothly. Wind noise isn't too bad by class standards, but you will notice more road noise on the motorway than you would in an equivalent Mazda CX-5 or Skoda Kodiaq.
This turbocharged petrol motor is the entry to the Kuga range, and is available only with front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox. It's no ball of fire, and struggles a bit will a full load of passengers and a full boot, but delivers adequate performance most of the time and keeps the price low. Our favourite engine for private buyers
1.5 Ecoboost 150
Essentially the same engine as above but with more power. Again, it’s front-wheel drive and manual only. We suspect it should feel a lot more comfortable lugging the Kuga around than its baby brother, but we haven't tried it yet
1.5 Ecoboost 182
This range-topping petrol model comes with four-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic gearbox, so it’s little surprise that its CO2 emissions are pretty high. At this price, though, there are far better options than the Ford Kuga
Our pick 1.5 TDCi 120
The entry-level diesel engine may be small in size, but it has enough grunt for most people and emits less CO2 than any other model in the range. It's our preferred choice for company car drivers, although if you regularly have a full car, consider the gutsier 2.0-litre 150
2.0 TDCi 150
This is the centre ground of the Kuga line-up – a 148bhp diesel that’s available with manual or automatic gearboxes, and front- or four-wheel drive. It's well worth a look and (with a manual gearbox and front-wheel drive) averaged a respectable 43.9mpg in our real-world True MPG test. The cheaper 1.5 TDCi is better value, though
2.0 TDCi 180
The most powerful diesel in the Kuga line-up offer strong mid-range urgency and effortless cruising pace. It’s a bit pricey, though, so we’d stick with one of the more modest diesels instead