2017 Ford Kuga Review

Introduction

The Kuga is a strong-selling mid-size SUV and a significant model for Ford. In its second generation guise, it’s not quite as fun to drive as the original, but is extremely practical and, with smaller engines, impressively fuel-efficient. No wonder so many Focus drivers have traded up.

 

Body Style: SUV               Seats: 5              MRP from £21,395 - £33,845 

          

Did you know? The original Kuga was designed purely for Europe. This model is also sold in the US, where it’s called the Ford Escape.

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Verdict:★★★★★★★★☆☆ (7.9/10)

The Ford Kuga is a five-seat compact SUV that, in its original guise, was something of a sharp-driving hit for Ford. To build upon that success, the firm fast-tracked this second-generation version (the first car was only sold for four years), which is a bit less agile but much roomier and more practical for occupants. It’s smooth and refined, fuel-efficient, cheap to run and offered in a growing variety of trims. It’s perhaps getting on a bit now in the face of newer rivals, but still has plenty of showroom appeal.

Design & Exterior

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Interior & Comfort

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Technology & Connectivity

★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

Performance & Handling

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Safety Features

★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

Spec & Trim Levels

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Running Costs & Fuel Economy

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Pricing

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

 

2017 Ford Kuga

We Like

Good to drive

Very practical

Sync 3 media system

We Don't Like

Not as much fun as the original Kuga

Rear seats are firm

Quickly becomes pricey

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Design & Exterior:★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Ford Kuga

The Ford Kuga is a familiar machine because so many are now present on UK roads. For its mid-life facelift, Ford has added a simpler, bolder hexagonal grille similar to that on the larger Ford Edge. It gives the Kuga much more presence, particularly in some of the bright new colours also introduced.

The original Kuga was perhaps a bit more distinctive, but the more mature styling of this model suits its core buyers well. It’s more 4x4-like than crossovers such as the Nissan Qashqai, and this gives it more presence on the road. You can make it even more alluring with higher-spec trims – and even go for a premium SUV-look with the range-topping Kuga Vignale.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Interior & Comfort:★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Ford Kuga

The dashboard follows the familiar Ford style. Cowled dials, a button-heavy centre console and swooping design are all present. The driving position is extremely well planned, as you’d expect from a Ford, and offers a commanding feel behind the wheel thanks to the SUV seat position and very deep windscreen. The steering wheel is good to hold and the Kuga feels sportier than many of its rivals.

Fords are usually well-built, and the Kuga is no exception. The plastics themselves, though, are a bit on the shiny side in places. Models such as the Volkswagen Tiguan have a much higher-quality feel. It’s also strange how austere some of the seat fabrics feel in certain trims – Ford could do better in terms of showroom appeal.

Practicality

The Kuga is a five-seat SUV, but it’s been well laid-out to maximise practicality for those five people. Front seat passengers have an easy step the into cabin, which provides good visibility and a light, airy feel. Although rear-seat legroom isn’t perhaps as good as it could be, the space is logically laid out, with lots of room for feet beneath the front seats, and enough knee room for adults.

It’s therefore strange the rear seats aren’t, unlike those in the front, very comfortable. They’re surprisingly hard to sit on, and their size is also a bit mean. There are three individual seats, which recline for comfort, but adults will feel like they’re sitting on slightly miniaturised pews – as if they’re from the third row of a seven-seat SUV.

Stowage space could be a bit better as well. The cabin’s swooping architecture doesn't lend itself to full flexibility here – a stylish look takes priority over somewhere to put your drinks bottle.

Boot space

Min: 456 litres
Max: 1,653 litres

There is little to fault the Ford Kuga here. The boot is a decent 456 litres even with the seats up, extending much further with them down. The space is broad and well-designed, there’s ledge-free loading so it’s easy to slide in heavy luggage, and the rear bumper has also been designed with a broad ledge that serves as a sturdy seat.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Technology & Connectivity:★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

2017 Ford Kuga

The Kuga comes with Ford’s latest Sync 3 infotainment system. This has evolved over several generations and is now a familiar feature of many mid-size Fords. It pairs with your smartphone, offers navigation where fitted and also manages music on your device. This latest system has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, so you can legally control your smartphone on the move.

Do note, though, that Sync 3 – and its associated eight-inch touchscreen – only comes with Titanium trim and above. The base Zetec gets a more meagre-looking 4.2-inch TFT display (not touchscreen), and doesn’t have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Conversely, on Titanium and ST-Line models, you can upgrade to a nine-speaker Sony audio system without losing the enhanced smartphone connectivity.

Other tech includes an electronic parking brake on all but Zetec models (it comes with optional Sync 3), standard cruise control, a Quickclear heated windscreen and the ingenious Ford MyKey that can be programmed to give different users different settings. Examples include limiting the top speed or stereo volume for the key used by your children.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Performance & Handling:★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Ford Kuga

Buying a Ford is generally a guarantee of getting a good-to-drive vehicle. The Kuga isn’t quite the ‘SUV hot hatch’ its predecessor was, but is arguably more well-rounded as a result. The steering remains sharp and the taut suspension provides excellent body control, seeming to broaden its talents as the roads get more challenging.

But while the ride is still a bit firm, it’s comfier than the original Kuga. There’s more absorbency over broken roads and it’s much less likely to become crashy or uncomfortable. Ford has a knack of producing cars that deal with UK roads well, and the Kuga is a great example of this.

The engine range is focused on real-world users: choose from either 1.5-litre turbo petrols and 1.5-litre or 2.0-litre turbodiesels. The 1.5-litre Ecoboost petrol is available in 120hp, 150hp or 182hp guises. It is a smooth and likeable engine: the 120hp version isn’t fast, but doesn’t feel too overwhelmed thanks to the turbo’s torque. The 150hp one is the best all-rounder, though.

The 1.5-litre Duratorq diesel also produces 120hp, but we’d rather go for the more powerful 2.0-litre Duratorq, which is offered either with 150hp or 180hp. Its extra grunt makes it a bit more relaxing to use, and it’s that bit quieter on the move as well, once you’ve warmed it up and got past the cold-start clatter. As with most Fords, the six-speed manual gearbox is lovely, but you can also pick a less lovely Powershift auto on some trims.

Ford offers either front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Most people take the extra economy of front-wheel drive and rely on the electronics to give them grip on Britain’s snowy days.

Recommended engine: 2.0 TDCi 150hp 4x2

0-62mph

10.1 seconds

Fuel economy

60.1mpg

Emissions

122g/km

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Safety Features:★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

2017 Ford Kuga

On the face of things, it’s hard to fault the crash protection and safety features of the Ford Kuga. Although it was tested back in 2012, rather than to today’s more stringent standard, Euro NCAP found little to complain about. A five-star safety score was backed up by 94 per cent in the adult occupant protection category, and 86 percent in child safety. Despite being an SUV, it’s not bad for pedestrians either, with a 70 per cent score there.

The real standout, though, is a 100 per cent score for safety assist features. But there is a proviso here: Euro NCAP now insists that active safety features are standard on most models in the range, rather than optional – and both autonomous emergency braking and lane-keeping with driver monitoring are optional on the Kuga. This 100 per cent score thus may not be repeatable today, and the Kuga might not have scored a full five-star rating either. Euro NCAP seems happy to give it the benefit of the doubt though, so we’ll only knock off one mark for now.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Specs and Trim Levels:★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Ford Kuga

Colours

Twelve colours are offered on the Kuga and three of them are free: solid Race Red, Blazer Blue or Frozen White. Metallic hues comprise either ‘premium’ or ‘exclusive’ colours. The premium ones are Guard Grey, Magnetic, Deep Impact Blue, Moondust Silver or Shadow Black. Exclusive colours are Copper Pulse, Green Instinct, White Platinum or Ruby Red. Pick a Vignale and you get an extra, exclusive colour option: Milano Grigio.

Trim Levels

Ford has pared-back the Kuga trim grades to three: Zetec, Titanium and the more recent ST-Line, which joined the range when it was facelifted. Zetec used to be something a bit special in the Ford range, but these days it’s much more conventional – even the 17-inch wheels aren’t as fancy as those on the Titanium. It does, however, have manual air-con, cruise control, the basic Ford Sync and a hot-hatch-like ‘Power Starter’ button.

Titanium adds Sync 3, climate control, LED running lights, keyless entry, multi-colour ambient lighting, an electronic parking brake and part-leather seats: all little details that add up to a more upmarket-feeling car. ST-Line is racier looking: it has a full bodykit, sports suspension, bespoke ST-Line trim and, so you don’t scratch your fancy bodykit, enhanced Active Park Assist.

An interesting model at the top of the range is the Vignale. This is the model Ford reckons is so posh and exclusive, it’s fit to take on Audis and BMWs. The Vignale has a fully colour-coded exterior, xenon headlights, 19-inch wheels, premium leather, double-stitched premium floor mats and a leather-wrapped dashboard. You can only buy Vignales through special Vignale Lounges in Ford dealers, and via a dedicated Vignale Relationship Manager. You don’t get all that with an Audi, argues Ford. Although you do get the badge...

Size and Dimensions

At 4.5 metres long, the Kuga is longer than a Ford Focus (and bigger than the original), but not as big as a Mondeo. Many find it just right, which is why lots of Focus drivers are trading up into a Kuga rather than a Mondeo – and sales figures reflect this. It’s a substantial 1,689 mm tall, and don’t forget the roof rails fitted to ST-Line models either. They take overall height up to 1,749 mm.

An electronically retractable tow bar is an option.

Length

4,524 mm

Width

1,838 mm

Height

1,689 mm

Max towing weight without brake

750 kg

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Running Costs & Fuel Economy:★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Ford Kuga

Choose wisely and you can pick a Ford Kuga capable of 64.2 mpg: the front-wheel-drive 1.5 TDCi. Even the 150hp 2.0-litre will break the 60mpg mark, while the Ecoboost petrols will officially do almost 45mpg. Adding four-wheel drive sees economy take a hit, and also pushes CO2 emissions up, so consider whether you really need it. Automatics are rather less fuel-efficient than manuals, too.

Reliability and servicing

Fords have a good reputation for reliability and the globally-built Kuga fares particularly well. Its well-proven mechanicals and robust engineering mean problems are few. It’s proving to be more dependable than the first-generation model.

Servicing is needed every 12,500 miles and the Ford dealer network is the largest in the UK, so it should be both a painless and inexpensive process.

Minor

12 months or 12,500 miles

Major

24 months or 25,000 miles

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Pricing:★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Ford Kuga

Base Ford Kugas look relatively affordable when compared to a Ford Focus, but things quickly become expensive. The 1.5 Ecoboost 120 Zetec costs £21,395, but an extra 30hp will right away cost you £1,000. Prefer a Titanium and you’re looking at £24,845, while the cheapest diesel is the basic 1.5 TDCi 120 Zetec, at £23,345. The more desirable Titanium is £25,795.

A 2.0-litre turbodiesel Titanium costs at least £26,545, with the good-looking ST-Line starting from £28,145 in 2.0-litre guise. As for the Vignale, take a deep breath. You need to fork out at least £30,445, and even then, you’ll only get a 120 hp 2.0-litre turbodiesel. The top-spec 2.0 TDCi 180 AWD auto is £34,845. Are you sure you don’t want that Audi?

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Recommendations

Cost Conscious

1.5 Ecoboost Zetec – It doesn’t quite have the features of a Titanium but the Focus-like pricing of the base Zetec petrol is very tempting.

Tech Junkie

Titanium – Ford’s Sync 3 system on Titanium trim and above is very comprehensive and will keep tech-lovers entertained for hours.

Luxury Seeker

Vignale – It’s expensive, but there’s no denying the Vignale is also posh. Rich seat trims and a leather-covered dash make it feel a bit like a real-world Rolls-Royce.

Rivals

Volkswagen Tiguan

Now the one to beat in the small SUV sector, Volkswagen’s latest Tiguan is a class act – although you do pay premium prices for it...

Nissan X-Trail

The seven-seat big brother to the Nissan Qashqai isn’t quite as svelte to drive, but it’s good value and practical.

Kia Sportage

The latest Sportage has more divisive styling than the original, but is otherwise better and comes with a great warranty.

Honda CR-V

This ageing Honda has seen better days, although it’s still very roomy and incredibly well-built. The diesel could be more refined.

Mazda CX-5

Almost as sporty to drive as the Kuga, Mazda’s popular CX-5 will soon be facelifted, so strike a deal if you’re buying now.

What others say

Car Buyer

“The Ford Kuga has recently been facelifted to keep it competitive, but its dashboard still lags behind some rivals.”

Autocar

“The second-generation Ford Kuga sets a new sporting benchmark amongst crossovers.”

 

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