The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Ford Kuga is a sharp-suited 4x4 with great practicality and excellent handling.
Reasons to buy:
- Sharp styling
- Premium feel
- Good level of equipment
How good does it look?
The Ford Kuga is a compact, stylish 4×4 which stands up to comparison with more expensive 4×4s. The face is familiar as it’s based on the ‘kinetic design’ styling which has informed the look of the latest versions of much of the Ford range including the new Ford Focus and Ford Mondeo, with two grilles tapering towards each other at the front. The bonnet is sculpted to enhance the bold nose while a very high waistband rises to finish above the rear light clusters which sit either side of the neat hatch-style back.
What's the interior like?
Ford has aimed for an ‘affordable yet premium’ finish and during our week-long loan, driver and passengers alike were impressed by the Kuga. The steering wheel is good to hold and the information display easy to read. The seating position and that of the gear stick and handbrake all felt very natural while the central console – with a keyless start button located at the top – is simple and stylish. The model we drove featured a panoramic sunroof, an option well-worth considering. The design appears very well thought-out and the good quality tough materials used live up to the expectation this sets.
How practical is it?
The hatch boot can be fully openend to create a full-sized opening or accessed through an area little bigger than the rear windscreen. We found this a useful feature, enabling owners to access luggage when little space is available behind the car. One neat extra was the addition of a 230v power converter between the front seats – handy for powering up a laptop and other in car entertainment. Storage is well-thought-out and 360 litres of regular luggage space in the boot can be increased to 1,355 in two-seat mode.
What's it like to drive?
Many 4×4 manufacturers claim its vehicles handle like cars and the Ford Kuga delivers on exactly this promise. It corners better than you would expect from a good-sized five-seater 4×4 and goes well beyond the capabilities of a simple people-shifter. But it still meets the 4×4 requirement of ensuring a comfortable journey for driver and occupants with a good-quality ride and minimal engine and road noise.
How powerful is it?
The Ford Kuga is powered by a 136bhp 2-litre TDCi turbo diesel engine which can cover 0-62mph in just over 10.5 seconds and has a maximum speed of 112mph. Power is delivered by a six speed manual gearbox. Both the gearbox and engine come from excellent and proven Ford Focus and are well-suited to the Ford Kuga.
How much will it cost me?
Ford has kept the 4×4 running costs down with the 2-litre diesel engine returning an average 44.1mpg and producing CO2 emissions of 169g/km.
How reliable is it?
The Ford Kuga is a model which went on sale in 2008 so only time will tell as regards reliability. However, Ford is in rude health right now with a line-up of excellent quality models, including the Ford Focus which provides the engine and gearbox for the Ford Kuga. Ford currently sits tenth in the Reliability Index for the cheapness and rarity of repairs.
How safe is it?
The Ford Kuga achieved a maximum five star rating following EuroNCAP crash tests. It comes with six airbags and has a host of safety devices designed to keep you out of trouble in the first place. Among these are its four-wheel drive, electronic stability programme (ESP), anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and traction control system.
How much equipment do I get?
The Kuga comes in either Zetec or Titanium trim. Zetec features 17-inch alloys, body-coloured rear spoiler, air-con and six-speaker CD/radio. The top of the range Titanium adds tinted glass, cruise control, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, partial leather trim with leather gear knob, Sony stereo and dual temperature control. The useful power converter so you can power electronic devices in transit is a £75 extra. The Titanium X Pack includes the panoramic sunroof as well as full leather trim, heated front seats, Bi-xenon headlamps and solar reflect windscreen. Touch-screen sat-nav adds another £1,000.
Ford has a superb model range and the Ford Kuga is the latest head-turning addition. It is practical and fun to drive, with the added benefit of four-wheel drive suited to light off-roading and winter driving.