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Mid-size SUV of the Year 2020: Ford Kuga

The Ford Kuga is the 2020 Auto Express Mid-size SUV of the Year with the Skoda Karoq and Toyota RAV4 commended

It’s fair to say that while the mid-size SUV class has been growing in popularity almost exponentially year on year over the last decade, the Ford Kuga SUV has been in the doldrums for most of that time.

However, this third-generation model is a fantastic return to form for Ford, backing up the introduction of its fun-feeling Puma small SUV with exactly what buyers in this class want from a crossover.

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Based on the same platform as the Focus family hatchback, the Kuga boasts the Blue Oval’s trademark driver-focused approach, so the steering is quick and well weighted, and works nicely with the way the chassis is set up to deliver a fun driving experience. However, it doesn’t sacrifice comfort; although it’s certainly firm and communicative, the suspension (helped by the more sophisticated multi-link set-up at the rear) has a supple edge that rounds off bumps nicely.

The key to the Kuga’s renewed success in 2020 is that Ford has really taken stock of where the market is heading and what customers want in this class, offering a mix of pure ICE, mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains that will suit whatever you’re after.

The 2.0-litre mild-hybrid diesel is a strong option, helping to boost efficiency and take the sting out of running costs in conjunction with a sweet six-speed manual gearbox. The PHEV packs a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol and an electric motor that drive the wheels through a CVT automatic, so it’s easy to drive and efficient, as well as having a claimed all-electric range of 35 miles.

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Like the best SUVs in this sector, the Kuga also boasts sliding rear seats, so there’s between 475 and 526 litres of boot space available, which means it’s easily a match for stalwarts of this class like the Skoda Karoq. Space inside the car is generous and it ticks yet more of the boxes any mainstream family SUV should when it comes to the Kuga’s infotainment.

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Ford’s SYNC 3 system has been continuously tweaked to the point that it’s now one of the best on the market: it’s full of features, fast and responsive, rounding off a convincing package that offers lots of choice.

Our choice

Ford Kuga 2.0 EcoBlue mHEV Titanium (£29,375)

It comes only with a manual gearbox, but that’s not a problem because the powertrain is great and features mild electrification to help out. Titanium trim includes full-LED headlights, an eight-inch touchscreen with nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless phone charging, climate and cruise control plus strong safety tech, so it’s a great family SUV that balances kit, cost and efficiency well.

Commended

Skoda Karoq

Since its introduction in 2017 the Skoda Karoq has been a constant in this class, offering family-friendly flexibility, solid monthly finance deals and a level of tech, quality and efficiency that means it gets a deserved mention in our awards. It’s still a great family SUV, although we’d like to see a plug-in model in its line-up.

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Toyota RAV4

Toyota has ploughed its own furrow with hybrid technology for decades now, and finally in 2020’s automotive climate it’s reaping what it’s sowed as the RAV4 proves how hybrid technology can make a great mid-size SUV. It offers the potential for great efficiency, while improved infotainment means the brand is making a strong charge.

New Car Awards 2020: the winners

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Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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