$27,990 – $47,740
Good: Powerful 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine; ‘Intelligent’ All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) system; European Styling.
Not so Good: The 1.6-litre turbo petrol can be a little thirsty; Manual transmission only available on entry variant.
Design and Engineering
Good : The latest generation Ford Kuga arrived down under in April 2013. Featuring a more dynamic product range at a more competitive price.
The Ford Kuga offers up a smaller SUV choice for those that don’t feel the need for the larger Territory.
The exterior design of the Ford Kuga is compact and sporty. Up front the Kuga features a large air vent, fog lights and a slim line front grille. The bonnet features a unique design, the A-pillars run down and form part of the bonnets character lines, in the middle of the bonnet are two bold lines that start from under the window and run their way down the bonnet giving the Kuga an aggressive look.
From the side, the Kuga features a very angular design, the roof line slopes from the front to the rear; there is also a crease line that runs through the centre of the vehicle that complements the sharp angular design.
Not so good : Although the Kuga looks quite compact, the rear end of the vehicle looks a bit bulky. We think this is the least attractive angle for the Kuga.
Interior and Styling
Good : Inside the Ford Kuga feels premium and is quite attractive to look at. There is three variants on offer, the entry spec Ambiente, mid spec Trend AWD and top spec Titanium AWD.
The new Ford Kuga is 81mm longer, 4mm narrower and 8mm lower. Although the Kuga is 4mm narrower Ford say there is added space in the rear for passenger compartments and luggage area to ensure the SUV is a complete family vehicle.
Slipping into the very comfortable seats occupants can be adjusted to best suit your needs. The Titanium grade gets fully adjustable electronic and heated seats.
Soft touch plastics dominate the dash while the bottom of the dash, door trims and highlights are finished in hard plastics. However, the overall look is quite premium.
Sitting in the centre of the dash is a Sony CD audio sound system that produces a crisp sound via 8-speakers. There is also Bluetooth mobile phone and audio streaming, USB and iPod connectivity.
Not so good : Our pet hate with all Fords fitted with the Sony audio system is the overkill of buttons on the centre dash.
Good : The Ford Kuga range comes with the choice two turbocharged engines, one petrol and one diesel.
First up is a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine that produces 110kW of power when matched to 6-speed manual transmission and 134kW of power when fitted with a 6-speed sports automatic. Maximum torque remains the same at 240Nm for both transmissions.
The 2.0-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel produces 120kW of power and a massive 340Nm of torque when matched to a 6-speed sports automatic.
The Ambiente 6-speed manual is a solid performer, the 6-speed is a slick shifting unit and the clutch is well weighted, there is also plenty of torque across the rev range so you’re not forever down shifting.
We really enjoyed our time in the 2.0-litre turbo diesel fitted with the 6-speed sports automatic, this combination works really well and provides stress free driving. The diesel is also quite refined with minimal engine vibration noticeable at idle.
Not so good : Although the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol provides plenty of power and torque you have to push the engine harder to get the same results as the diesel. The 1.6-litre can be a little thirsty compared to the 2.0-litre diesel.
Ride and Handling
Good : The great thing about compact SUV’s is that you sit higher than the average sedan; this allows you to see over traffic which is great for inner city driving. The Ford Kuga feels solid on the road, there is minimal body roll when cornering and the suspension makes short work of any bumps or potholes in the road.
Not so good : Because this is a compact SUV don’t expect sports car handling characteristics. If you drive the Kuga too hard into a corner it’s not quite as forgiving as some smaller cars on the market.
Buying and Owning
Good : The great thing about owning a Ford Kuga is that it looks tough next to its competitors with a less sporty and masculine design.
A lower starting price and more variants on offer, make the Ford Kuga a much more appealing option than the previous generation.
Not so good : As we mentioned before the 1.6-litre petrol can be a bit on the thirsty side when you start to push higher into the rev range.