New facelifted Ford Kuga moves upmarket

21 Feb, 2016 8:30pm Richard Ingram

More stylish and more advanced, the new Ford Kuga SUV arrives later in 2016 targeting the Audi Q5 and BMW X3

The next generation Ford Kuga was unveiled first at the LA Auto Show back in November 2015. It was called the Ford Escape then for US marketing purposes, but it appeared in Europe in March 2016 with Kuga badges at the Geneva Motor Show. Dealers have offered the Ford Kuga for sale in its current guise since 2013, and thanks to some pretty impressive deals on models like the Kuga Titanium it’s sold reasonably well. The current Ford Kuga specs and its big boot have helped too.

• Read our Ford Kuga review here

However, unless you’re looking for a used Ford Kuga, then the current model just got a lot less interesting… because the facelifted Kuga that’s on sale later this year is going to offer more luxury and improved tech. One of the highlights we know about, is the inclusion of a new SYNC 3 infotainment system. The new Kuga also boasts revised design on the inside and out, with Ford sources claiming the new looks will help the Kuga compete with more premium-badged SUV rivals like the BMW X3 and Audi Q5.

• Geneva Motor Show 2016

As you can see from the pictures, the new Kuga benefits from a revised front end with new grille design, restyled LED daytime running lights, and reshaped bumpers with foglamps in a different place. The back end is being updated with a reshaped bootlid and tail-lamp treatment. Top spec models retain the fake diffuser and twin exhaust outlets, as well as the rear lights in the bumper.

Buyers get a choice of 17, 18 or 19-inch wheels, plus a new Copper Pulse colour option. Overall, it’s a better resolved design, reminiscent of 2008’s original.

Inside, Ford says the dashboard has been crafted to offer a more ergonomic design, although it doesn’t look that different from what has gone before. The screen is bigger and there are fewer buttons for the air-con and audio system, while the centre console has been cleared up with an electronic parking brake. 

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All auto models now also feature steering wheel-mounted paddles for improved driver enjoyment. Ford’s Adaptive Front Lighting system will be available on the Kuga, too. This reads the road ahead and can adapt the lighting style to match speed, steering angle and distance from the car in front. Boosting the SUV’s safety credentials are Intelligent four-wheel drive, torque vectoring and ‘Curve Control’, as well as Cross Traffic Alert and Active City Stop auto braking.

Under the bonnet, the big news is the introduction of a more efficient 118bhp 1.5-litre diesel, which Ford says delivers 64.2mpg and 115g/km CO2 emissions. While it doesn’t replace any other engine, it should prove a fleet favourite, sitting under the 148bhp and 178bhp 2.0 TDCi units. Two 1.5-litre turbo petrols will also be offered.

The new Kuga will sit among five new or redesigned Ford SUVs due in the next three years. It joins the updated EcoSport and all-new Edge, and will go on sale by the end of 2016, priced from around £20,000.

New Ford SYNC 3 infotainment system

Alongside the revised Ford Kuga, Ford has announced the European arrival of its SYNC 3 infotainment system. It’ll debut on the Mondeo, S-MAX and Galaxy, then appear in the SUV later this year.

Ford says the set-up lets drivers control their connected devices “with more conversational voice commands”. Owners can simply tell their car “I need a coffee” or “I need petrol”, and the navigation system will direct them to the nearest and most appropriate facilities. 

SYNC 3 is compatible with apps including Spotify and AccuWeather for local forecasts, and it can even install updates via your home WiFi. The user experience is simplified, with fewer steps required for the system to function, plus processing power is increased. Ford has also added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. All SYNC 3 systems get an eight-inch touchscreen, with familiar pinch-to-zoom functionality. It launches here in the summer.

What do you think of the new Ford Kuga? Let us know in the comments section below...