Ford Kuga review

Our Rating: 
2013 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Ford Kuga is a well built and capable mid-sized SUV that challenges the Mazda CX-5 for class honours

Big boot, clever tech features, competitive price tag
Not as sharp to drive as the old car, bland styling, not as economical as best rivals

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Ford’s second-generation Kuga might lack the outright driving precision of its predecessor, but it brings more of what people really want in this marketplace. Specifically, space. The Kuga now has an interior and boot that are competitive with all but the roomiest rivals.

Going against the current trend, the Ford Kuga is more SUV than crossover. This is demonstrated by a range that offers a lot of four-wheel drive choices.

Smart styling, that spacious interior and plenty of standard equipment count in its favour, though the Kuga’s infotainment system isn’t the easiest to operate, with plenty of buttons compared to the easy touchscreen set-ups in rivals. Challenging the Mazda CX-5 for class honours, the Ford Kuga is a well-rounded package and comes competitively priced, too. 

Group test: Ford Kuga vs Honda CR-V & Mazda CX-5

Our Choice: 
Ford Kuga Zetec 2.0 TDCi 4x4

The Kuga is one of three SUVs offered by Ford. Occupying the space between the smaller EcoSport and soon-to-be-introduced Edge, the Kuga is based on the same platform as the Focus hatchback and takes on the likes of the popular Nissan Qashqai, Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5

Front- and four-wheel drive models are offered with the 4x4 cars getting Ford’s Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system, which diverts power to the wheels that can best use it.  

In the engine bay there’s a choice of Ford’s EcoBoost turbo petrol and Duratorq TDCi turbo diesel engines, the latter making up the majority of UK sales. There’s a choice of a twin-clutch PowerShift automatic or manual transmissions - depending on which engine you choose.

There are four specifications in the Ford Kuga range. Zetec open’s proceedings then there’s Titanium, Titanium X and Titanium X Sport. Technology highlights include a hands-free tailgate, Active City Stop autonomous braking and Ford SYNC, which can read text messages aloud and offers voice control functionality. 

Engines, performance and drive

Petrol and diesel choices, but it’s the 2.0 TDCi that makes up the majority of sales, for good reason

When the Kuga was mechanically updated at the back end of 2014, a whopping 95 per cent of sales in the UK were of diesel models. The 2.0-litre, four-cylinder TDCi engine on offer is available in two states of tune, 148bhp or 178bhp, with the lower output version offered in either front- and four-wheel drive - the more powerful unit is four-wheel drive only. Both versions are more powerful and more efficient than the equivalent engines they replaced prior to the Kuga’s mid-life facelift. 

Despite diesel engines being the dominant powertrain, Ford also replaced the old 1.6-litre engine with a 1.5-litre EcoBoost option. Front-wheel drive petrol models are offered with 148bhp, while the more powerful all-wheel drive version gets 180bhp. 

The power steering system in the Ford Kuga is now fully electric and while it saves on running costs, it has sacrificed feedback and feels very light.

Despite the body roll control system fitted as standard across the Ford Kuga range, there's still plenty of lean in the corners. This is primarily a result of suspension that has been tweaked for comfort rather than cornering ability.

All Kuga models feature torque vectoring to help deliver a responsive, engaging drive and the Kuga features a comprehensive list of electronic driver aids, with options like Active City Stop, Traffic Sign Recognition and Lane Keeping Alert offered as part of a Driver Assistance Pack.   


The 148bhp 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine is mated with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a dual-clutch PowerShift automatic. Although, we prefer the manual as the auto is prone to selecting the wrong gear for the situation. 

For extra performance you can also get a 180bhp version of the same petrol 1.5-litre engine, but most should go for the 148bhp or 178bhp 2.0-litre diesel models as they offer the best combination of power and efficiency. Both are smooth with noise levels well isolated from the cabin and deliver decent in-gear pace.

MPG, CO2 and running costs


If running costs are your priority, then go for the front-wheel-drive Ford Kuga with the 138bhp 2.0-litre TDCI diesel engine, as it returns 53.3mpg and emits 139g/km of CO2.

Even the more powerful 2.0-litre TDCI engine with 161bhp (available on Titanium models upwards) returns a respectable 47.9mpg, plus emissions of 154g/km of CO2 thanks to features such as a grille that closes at higher speeds.

The Ford Kuga with the 1.5-litre petrol EcoBoost engine comes with either 148bhp or 180bhp, both of which have with eco-friendly start-stop technology. The 148bhp variant does 45.6mpg and emits 143g/km of CO2, while the 176bhp engine returns 38.2mpg and CO2 levels of 171g/km.

Four-wheel-drive isn't available throughout the Ford Kuga range, and only cars with the 180bhp 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, and the 2.0-litre TDCi diesel units benefit from the extra traction.

Interior, design and technology

The Kuga is not as sharp to look at as its predecessor, but it is more spacious, better built and offers more equipment

The Ford Kuga is now bigger than the previous incarnation. What's more, it serves as two cars in one – on the European market it replaced the old model, while in the United States it replaced a more utilitarian Ford 4x4. 

Where the Ford Kuga has got bigger, its looks have been slightly compromised. The Ford family face remains but an upswept crease and window line running along the side of the car means the latest Ford Kuga doesn't look quite as sporty as the older version.

The Ford Kuga's interior is modern and feels like good quality - but it does have too many buttons for our liking.

Even on the entry-level Ford Kuga Zetec models, 17-inch alloy wheels, sports seats, daytime running lights, cruise control and keyless go are standard.

Go for the Ford Kuga Titanium and you get a gloss-black grille surround, part-leather seats, automatic headlights, dual-zone climate control, the Ford SYNC phone voice-control system and a DAB radio.

The range-topping Ford Kuga Titanium X trim adds 18-inch alloys, LED tail-lights, bi-Xenon adaptive headlamps, a panoramic roof and leather upholstery. 

The newest trim level in the Ford Kuga range, the Titanium X Sport, features body coloured bumpers and wheel arches, a rear spoiler, a silver skid plate on the front and 19-inch alloy wheels. Plus, it adds tinted windows, sat-nav, a Sony DAB Radio, Active Park Assist, and a rear-view camera. 

From the Titanium X level upwards, all Ford Kuga models get a neat ‘hands-free’ tailgate, which can be opened by waving a foot under the bumper - perfect for when you need to load heavy objects. 

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment 

The Kuga’s info and entertainment system isn’t the most user-friendly out there. The entry-level Zetec comes with Bluetooth and USB connectivity as well as a DAB radio but it’ll take time to come to terms with the controls. At least the phone pairing process is not too fiddly and once it’s done the system should remember your phone.

More upmarket models gain sat-nav, but again it’s not the most intuitive system to use. Sound quality on all models is decent, if not exceptional. 

Practicality, comfort and boot space

Good passenger space, but boot space, while improved, is bettered by some rivals

The previous generation Ford Kuga was a bit tight on boot space, but the 2013 model saw this increase by 82 litres.

The driving position is excellent, the steering wheel moving for height and reach, while the pedals are well positioned, as is the gearstick for the standard manual transmission. Stowage is good, if not class leading, you need to go for Titanium trim and above to gain a useful centre console cubby with a 12-volt plug socket.    


The Kuga doesn’t feel too big compared to its rivals, its height giving you a useful view over traffic ahead. It feels longer than most, looking a bit like a tall estate car rather than a chunky SUV or crossover. That’s to its benefit in traffic, where you feel more confident threading it through gaps.

Leg room, head room & passenger space

Passenger space in the Kuga is good for four adults but the fifth middle seat is a bit of a squeeze unless you’re all very friendly. Headroom and legroom are good too but the panoramic roof - standard on some models – could be a problem for taller passengers. Visibility is generally decent all round.

Comfort levels are high, the seats supportive with lots of adjustability, and the rear seats can be reclined for greater comfort in the rear. Isofix child seat mounts feature on the outer two seats if you’ve little ones to fit in.


Boot space is now up to 442 litres and the Ford Kuga is more competitive in this respect.

The Ford Kuga has more boot space than a Volkswagen Tiguan, but less than the capacious Honda CR-V. Furthermore, the spare wheel option decreases boot space to 406 litres, giving it 97 litres less than a Mazda CX-5.

You can fold down the 60/40 split rear seats in the Ford Kuga to increase the space to 1,928 litres, which is actually 600 litres more than before. 

There’s a compartment under the floor in the boot for secreting away items out of sight. If that floor panel is in its high position and the seatbacks down the load space is flat, the seats themselves folding in a simple one-hand operation across the entire range. There's a low loading lip as well, so getting items in and out is easy.

Ford offers a tow bar as a £600 option on the Kuga and towing weights range from 1,600kg to 2,100kg depending on you choice of engine and transmission. There's also the option of an automatic tailgate, which can be opened by waving your foot under the rear bumper (as long as you have the key in your pocket - if you don’t you’ll just look ridiculous).

Reliability and Safety

Plenty of safety equipment as standard with the option of more at a cost. Reliability should be good, if not exceptional

A five-star EuroNCAP crash test rating should reassure you if you’re buying the Kuga as a family vehicle. The standard safety equipment list is lengthy, with ABS, Emergency Brake Warning, driver and front airbags, a driver’s knee airbag, front side impact airbags and front and rear curtain airbags all as standard.

All Kugas also get tyre pressure monitoring and two Isofix child seat mounts. Check the right options boxes and you can add Active City Stop - which helps prevent slow-speed accidents by autonomously slowing the car down if you don’t brake - and blind spot monitoring. Also available are Traffic Sign Recognition, Adaptive Cruise control and Lane Keeping Aid as part of the optional Driver Assist package.

Quality inside and out feels and looks to a high standard, but the Kuga placed 110th on the 2015 Driver Power survey, lower than both its Mazda CX-5 and Nissan Qashqai rivals. Worse still, it’s listed as 154th for quality, pipping the Qashqai by one place, but far behind the Mazda. 


These days Ford’s three-year/60,000-mile warranty looks pretty ordinary compared to the five and seven-year offerings from rivals like the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage. In the first year of ownership there is unlimited mileage UK and European roadside cover and unlimited paint cover  and a 12-year unlimited mileage perforation warranty is standard.  


The Kuga needs servicing every 12,500 miles or annually, whatever comes soonest, with major services every two years or 25,000 miles. 

Ford offers a fixed-price servicing package, with two- and three-year deals offered for £390 and £590 respectively. After that Ford offers a £125 annual minor service, or £195 major service package via Ford Motorcraft 4+ service options.

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Qashqai is spared for now
It looks bigger than the old Kuga. Better? I am not sure. The current Kuga is quite a likable car. Looks good in white. This new one looks a lot like VW Tiguan from some angles, first picture front for instance.
The new model brings only marginal improvements over the current in terms of passenger and luggage space, engine refinement and efficiency.
Price puts it sqrarely in the same bracket with CRV, RAV4 and CX5. Qashqai is spared for now.

I'm upset with the pathetically small sat nav. Ford sell the Escape in the US with a great 7 inch touch screen Sony unit. In Europe they're clearly trying to off load a job lot of 5 inch game/watch screens which are recessed 7 inches away from the dashboard at the end of a tunnel for no apparent reason other than budget sales. This has stopped me (this alone) from spending £30k on another fully loaded Kuga. Big shame but that's their mistake not mine. Goodbye Ford, liked it whilst it lasted.

I completely agree with Steve. When most of the cars and SUV's in that price tag offer a decent sized infotainment screen and display, it's silly to have a small one like this Kuga and Focus too! New Mondeo will feature an 8" screen hopefully : )

Same with the Focus ST, that has the huge display in the USA but the low end one in the UK and you cannot even choose it as an optional extra.

"The four-wheel-drive model, which costs around £1,500 more than the equivalent two-wheel-drive model, also gets a touchscreen sat-nav fitted as standard."
This is incorrect. 4wd models do not get sat-nav as standard. Also the factory-fit sat-nav option in the UK is non-touchscreen.

Fords new family face, dreadful. The 2013 Fiesta actually has a much better designed nose, why have Ford ruined the Kuga? I loved the previous Kuga nose, the whole body shape was gorgeous, but the 2.5 Ltr petrol engine in the old model was unacceptable. Now we get a new version with the right petrol engine and Ford go and ruin the nose. Sorry, Ford you've lost another sale because of American blandness.

I spoke to Ford about the pitiful satnav units and this was there response:

"With regards to your query Ford will be introducing the Sync screen (touch) in Europe approximately early 2015. There has been a delay as when the Ford Sync is released in Europe, we will be dealing with a multitude of different languages rather than one for America.
I have also been advised that the Ford Sync will be gradually merged within new product lines. This feature cannot be added to existing vehicle lines.

However due to the delays we have no confirmation on the launch dates of this or any further updates at present. I would recommend checking our Ford social media pages to check for any specification updates in the future."

So we may see bigger touch screens in 2015, but probably not on the current models. What a royal project management mess.

That statement about factory fitted sat nav is not true - i wa sin one the other day and it had a touch screen

No, it does nothing for me. I don't like the Chinese looking front end or the silly rear windows - probably made in China anyway for about £10k costs plus £5k to ship it and fix it here and the rest is margin for Ford and the Dealers. Awful!

The last Ford to have stylish looks was the 1972 Granada ghia fastback!

Not the greatest looker but from a family point of view its fantastic, the one we messed with had all the boot opening, the sync etc and it made it so easy to use all the gizmos and imagine coming back with a pram with 2 kids, shopping, dogs etc the boot opening is going to be a god send and something others will adapt quickly.

Still looks better than anything VW make.

Looks are definitely up over the last model and it is still a much better looking car than anything in the dull VW line up.

We are trying to decide on a smaller SUV it is now between this and a Sportage. We started with everything, X1, Tiguan, CRV, Sportage, Kuga, Mokka and it was pretty easy to knock some out straight away (X1 and Mokka for both been dam ugly and in the case of the BMW woefully spec'ed and the CRV went in the end just because it was, well, dull) Anyway we had it on test for a few hours and I was very impressed with it tbh. Engine was strong enough and no where near as rattly as the Tiguan or Kia. The drive on all the cars wasn't exactly great but surely no one buys an SUV thinking it will handle like a sports car, who would be that dumb! In the Titanium X spec we were looking at it had pretty much all the toys you could need, saying that so does the Kia, the VW does not unless you want to dive deep in to your pockets for extras. We have 2 little lads and this could swallow the double pram and everything that comes along with them with ease, the Kia did struggle a little more (the VW was dismissed by this point for been outscored on every category). Obviously in a just a few hours its hard to say what the overall economy will be like but anything will be an improvement over the Mrs' Omega!

Just have to decide between the ford and kia now! Well she thinks she gets to pick but we shall see about that! ;)

Great review on the Ford Kuga, I think it looks and great and will be a big competitor against similar cars like the Qashqai and the Juke. - James, The Car Loan Warehouse

What idiot chose the name "Cashcow" for a car name?! And what IS the point of a 4x4 - that is only two wheel drive? There are some mighty gullible people out there...

British made Qashqai is the vehicle most Europeans want. Every Nissan engine comes with bomb proof reliability, Why would you ever buy this American Escape, that has been the subject of non-stop recalls in the USA.

Europeans know quality when they buy a car.

EUROPEAN SUV SALES CHART 2013 first 10 months.

No 9 Nissan Qashqai 177,392

No 15 VW Tiguan 115,728

No 38 Nissan Juke 91,758

No 44 Kia Sportage 77,505

No 51 Hyundai ix35 74,198

No 56 Dacia Duster 69,640

No 59 Ford Kuga 54,079

Bomb proof reliability of the British Sunderland made Qashqai seems to be the SUV most Europeans really really want to BUY,

The Kuga is not as 'out there' as the qashqai or the Juke but it is a good looking car with plenty of kit and will no doubt build on the MK1's reputation, I don't think that "bland" is a good description, mind you I'll bet the designers of the Ecosport are wishing someone would use a word as nice as 'bland' to describe their "monstrous carbuncle"

I have a 2013 kuga all I want to say about this car its the worst car I have ever owned in fifty years I have been driving.

What are they are like at pulling things

I had a Kuga for a week. Liked most things about it. Only thing that made me reject it was it's economy. Bad at 34mpg. The inferior in every other way crv did over 40.

Last updated: 7 Oct, 2015