In-depth reviews

Ford Kuga review

If you want a practical family car that’s still great to drive, then the Ford Kuga SUV hits the spot.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

  • Handling
  • Infotainment tech
  • Plug-in hybrid version
  • Not as spacious as rivals
  • Vibration on rough roads
  • Seats could be more comfortable

Ford’s third attempt at the Kuga is easily the best yet. The latest iteration of its family SUV blends great driving dynamics with useful on-board tech, good safety kit and plenty of practicality. 

The Kuga doesn’t offer quite as much space as its close rivals, but the overall package remains compelling. With efficient hybrid and plug-in hybrid models available and competitive prices across the range, the Kuga offers exceptional value for keen drivers who need a little more room for the family.

About the Ford Kuga

A quick look at the Ford Kuga family tree reveals the first-generation SUV, launched in 2008, was little more than a high-riding Ford Focus. This was a good thing, though, and meant customers were treated to hatchback-style handling, while benefiting from the extra space and practicality of the larger five-door family car.

Growing a little rounder in its middle age and, with increasing competition from the likes of the Peugeot 3008, Renault Kadjar and Kia Sportage, the Kuga struggled to make its mark. Uninspiring looks, tired tech and the loss of its sharp driving dynamics did nothing to help its cause.

Ford’s latest crack at the Kuga is just right. The manufacturer has concentrated its attention in all the right areas, providing the Kuga with eye-catching good looks, decent levels of standard kit, an efficient range of engines and solid safety credentials. It drives rather well, too.

The third-generation Kuga is based on Ford’s C2 platform, so it shares its underpinnings with the Focus hatchback. Ride and handling are back to being standout attributes for the Kuga, and there’s more driving fun to be had compared to rivals such as the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Hyundai Tucson

The VW group offers up the smart, but rather bland trio of the Tiguan, Skoda Karoq and SEAT Ateca, while there’s also the stylish Mazda CX-5, or the ever-popular Nissan Qashqai to consider.

Ford has kept the engine range pretty simple. Petrol power is available in the form of a 1.5 EcoBoost unit with 148bhp, while there’s also a 1.5-litre diesel engine with 118bhp and a more powerful, all-wheel-drive 2.0-litre oil burner producing 187bhp.

For those with one eye on efficiency, the Kuga also comes with a choice of a 2.0-litre 148bhp diesel version with mild-hybrid tech, a 187bhp full-hybrid with a larger battery, or a 222bhp 2.5-litre petrol plug-in hybrid model.

All petrol and diesel cars come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with the exception of the 187bhp diesel variant which has an eight-speed automatic transmission (an option for the 118bhp diesel). The full-hybrid and plug-in hybrid use a CVT auto ‘box.

Equipment levels move through from Zetec to the popular Titanium trim, followed by the sporty ST-Line, ST-Line X and luxury Vignale specification. Entry-level kit includes 17-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, sports seats, Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system and sat-nav. Top-spec versions add items such as bigger 19-inch alloys, a power tailgate, heated seats and a panoramic roof.

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