In-depth reviews

Ford Kuga review - Engines, performance and drive

The Ford Kuga offers an efficient range of petrol and hybrid engines

Ford has revitalised the Kuga with a strong range of engines and made it a family SUV that’s also great to drive. There’s MacPherson strut front suspension and a multi-link rear set-up that help with both comfort on longer journeys and agility when pressing on through the corners. When you need to rein it in, the brakes are strong.

The suspension stays comfortable and composed in most situations, although we did find the ride slightly too firm and bouncy on the ST-Line X version with its sporty suspension and the biggest 19-inch alloy wheels. Smaller wheels should make the Kuga even more refined.

A significant move forward for the Kuga is the adoption of mild-, full- and plug-in hybrid power, which help improve fuel consumption and reduce CO2 emissions. The mild-hybrid tech recoups power during braking and stores it in a small battery, where it’s then used to maximise efficiency when on the move. The full-hybrid operates in the same way, but includes a larger battery that can store more power to help improve fuel economy.

However, the Kuga plug-in hybrid model is where you’ll find major savings in fuel consumption and less CO2 emitted from the tailpipe. It’s at its most effective when engaged in pure-EV mode as the 2.5-litre petrol engine can be a little loud when it chips in. This isn’t helped by the CVT gearbox which is typically noisy when accelerating hard - in fact, we’d prefer a regular automatic transmission to smooth things along.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

The 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine provides entry into the Kuga range. Producing 148bhp, it manages the 0-62mph sprint in 9.7s, while the 222bhp 2.5-litre PHEV is even quicker at 9.2s. The full-hybrid version is a tenth of a second faster with a time of 9.1s.

Although no longer offered on the price list, the 118bhp and 148bhp diesel SUVs are capable of reaching 0-62mph in 11.7s and 9.6s, respectively, while the 187bhp 2.0-litre EcoBlue unit, with its all-wheel-drive set-up, delivers a time of 8.7s and a 129mph maximum.

Ford has fitted selectable driving modes as standard, so you can cycle between settings biased for eco, sporty and off-road driving. In our 118bhp diesel test car, the difference between the eco and sport modes was clear when accelerating; in eco you might feel like you’re struggling to keep up with traffic, while the sportier setting gives surprisingly punchy acceleration. The lowest-powered diesel engine is also quite noisy, so wouldn’t be the engine we’d recommend.

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