Ford Kuga 2WD Review : Cheap-to-run SUV with lots of room

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  • Spacious cabin
  • Comfortable
  • Well equipped
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  • Ecoboost engine is thirsty
  • Interior quality
  • Dated infotainment system

The two-wheel drive Ford Kuga benefits from lower running costs compared to the four-wheel drive model. It rivals two-wheel drive versions of the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson.

The Kuga received a fairly extensive facelift in early 2016 that brought striking exterior styling inspired by the larger Ford Edge, a simplified interior and a new 1.5-litre diesel engine.

Despite being fairly imposing on the outside, the Kuga’s interior focuses on comfort above all else. The driving position is described as spot on for long journeys and the large MPV-like windshield makes it easier to see out the car – great for sightseeing. The refreshed cabin might look fresher but, compared to the latest VW Tiguan, it feels a generation behind in terms of material quality and technology.

Two engines – one diesel and a petrol in two power levels – make sure all buyers are well served. The lively petrols feel best around town, while the relaxed nature and increased pulling power makes the diesel Kuga a perfect companion on motorway journeys.

Entry-level models get the bare necessities for family transport such as air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a heated windscreen.

The Sync2 infotainment system with satellite navigation is a £650/$975 option and is a huge improvement over the old system. It liberates the centre console of a huge amount of buttons, but it still isn’t as fast or intuitive as those in rivals, despite having fairly advanced voice recognition.

Ford Kuga passenger space

Unlike some rivals, the Kuga has a flat roof resulting in impressive headroom all-round and an overall feeling of airiness in the cabin. However, the Kuga is a bit narrower than most of its rivals so shoulder room for three adults in the back is at a premium – the Hyundai Tucson is far more spacious for passengers. Unlike the Land Rover Discovery Sport, there’s no seven-seat option, despite the Kuga’s large body.

Ford Kuga boot space

The bluff rear end might lead you to believe the boot is huge, but it’s actually one of the smallest in class at 406 litres, or 1,603 litres with the seats down. All its rivals have around 25-50 litres more with the seats up or folded – and some cars like the SEAT Ateca have more than 100 litres more. In hopes of winning some practicality points back, the Kuga can be equipped with a powered tailgate that opens if you wave a foot under the rear bumper but, unfortunately, it’s a £700 /$1,050 option only available on Titanium models and above.

Ford Kuga 2WD diesel engine

The diesel Kuga makes the most sense because it has lower running costs and feels quicker than the petrol thanks to its low-down torque. It’s also more frugal than the petrol with a combined figure of 60mpg – though it can’t match some rivals including the 70mpg-capable Qashqai. The diesel’s road tax is also the cheapest in the range at £110/$165 per year.

Ford Kuga 2WD petrol engines

The 1.5-litre petrol is part of Ford’s EcoBoost range so it’s smooth and comes with a choice of two power levels – either 118 or 148hp. They have identical fuel consumption figures, so we’ll focus on the recommended 148hp version. Compared to the Nissan Qashqai’s 160hp 1.6-litre petrol, the Kuga is not only slower, but also uses more fuel – the Ford returns a claimed 45.6mpg combined, while the Nissan manages 2-3mpg more. The Qashqai also gets from 0-62mph in 9.1 seconds – six-tenths quicker than the Kuga. In terms of CO2 emissions, the Ford is, again, bettered by the Nissan – the Kuga’s 143g/km CO2 emissions translates to £145$217 annual road tax, while the Qashqai is £15$23 cheaper.

Ford Kuga Zetec

Entry-level Kuga models come with everything you’d expect from a family-oriented SUV – cruise control, air-conditioning, Bluetooth phone connection for calls or music streaming, a height adjustable driver’s seat and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. On the outside, even the cheapest Kuga comes with alloy wheels and heated wing mirrors.

Ford Kuga 2WD Titanium and Titanium Sport

The mid-range Titanium is arguably the best value because it gets climate control with two separate temperature zones, part-leather upholstery and a Sony DAB digital radio. Automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers boost convenience, while the 17-inch alloy wheels mark it out from lesser models. The Titanium Sport brings a more aggressive body kit along with all-round parking sensors and larger 18-inch wheels.

Ford Kuga 2WD Titanium X and Titanium X Sport

The most expensive Kuga pushes prices to a point where rivals are much better equipped, so we’d stick to the cheaper trim levels. Nevertheless, the range-topper gets a powered tailgate, xenon headlights and a panoramic sunroof. Inside, passengers in the front get heated leather seats and those in the back get picnic tables mounted on the seatbacks. Like the Titanium Sport, the Titanium X Sport brings sportier exterior styling, tinted rear windows, park assist and the most advanced version of Ford’s Sync infotainment system. Silver roof-rails and large 19-inch alloys help distinguish it from the rest of the range.

Conclusion

When the Ford Kuga was first introduced back in 2008 it was a fun-to-drive alternative to the established competition but, since then, most rivals have caught up with the Fords’ car-like handling and some even surpass it.

The Kuga, then, isn’t ahead of competition in any meaningful criteria, but also rarely dips below class average in most areas as well. It might not be the best compact SUV currently on sale but, thanks to its airy cabin and cheaper running costs in two-wheel drive form, it still deserves a place on your shortlist.

(carwow.co.uk, https://goo.gl/thaVbO)

 

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