What's the used Ford Kuga 4x4 like?
The first-generation Ford Kuga was a stylish car that was generally well-received. Some, though, thought that it prioritised design a little too highly above function for a hotly contested class that included the likes of the iconic Nissan Qashqai. This second-generation car was designed to be sold in North America too, and is therefore bigger, more upmarket and competes against a whole new class of larger SUVs and 4x4s than the old model. It ran from 2013 until it was replaced by an all-new model in 2020.
Its more conventional shape incorporates, in the facelifted post-2016 cars, Ford’s large SUV corporate grille, behind which can be found a range of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines. There's the option from new of manual or dual-clutch automatic gearboxes and front or four-wheel drive, too. All combinations are solid, eager performers with reasonable economy and efficiency.
Early examples of the Kuga can be found with a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine, this being replaced in in 2016 by a smaller 1.5-litre. The entry-level 1.5 TDCi diesel engine may be small in size, but should have enough grunt for most people. If you regularly have a full car though, the 2.0-litre 150 is especially good.
There are plenty of trim levels to choose from, too. Entry-level Zetec models offer all of the essentials; air-con, electric windows and cruise control are all standard, although we would be tempted to look for a car fitted with the optional 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system. Moving up to Titanium brings a few niceties, such as the upgraded infotainment system, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, part-leather seats, and automatic lights and wipers. ST-Line models are the sporty option and feature a bodykit, sports suspension, 18in wheels, black detailing for the outside, floor mats with red piping and a self-parking system. The latter not only brings front and rear parking sensors, but also means the Kuga can steer itself into a parallel parking spot.
The range-topping Vignale version arrived in 2016 and adds perpendicular parking assist, a powered tailgate and adaptive xenon headlights as standard, as well as a liberal upholstering of Windsor leather on the seats, interior doors and dashboard.
Where the Kuga really surprises is in its ride and handling, both of which are accomplished to the level where it feels more like a hatchback than an SUV of old, with good body control and agility and neat absorption of bigger bumps and road irregularities. Patched up town roads can cause it to shimmer slightly, but on the whole, occupants will be comfortable.
Looking the sizeable exterior dimensions of the Kuga, you'd be forgiven for expecting a spacious interior. However, it is soundly beaten by the Tardis-like Seat Ateca according to our measurements for both front and rear seat room. What's more, the use of some scratchy plastics means it doesn't feel as well made as the Ateca or Mazda CX-5 inside. The boot is a good size, but one or two in this class have a larger capacity.
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