Review: Ford Kuga

The best mix of performance, price, running costs and kit

10 Jul 15 Tim Barnes-Clay

Pros

  • Good value for money

  • Spacious inside

  • Economical engine

Cons

  • Not great for off-road use

  • Relatively small boot

  • Bland styling

Our expert rating

The Kuga came on the scene in 2008, built in two- and four-wheel-drive. It was Ford’s response to motors such as the Volkswagen Tiguan and Nissan Qashqai. It was also built to challenge more orthodox 4x4s such as the Honda CR-V.

Performance

While it is no rocket ship, the Kuga does pick up pace fairly well and feels particularly nippy around town. There is not a huge variance in the fuel economy figures between the two- and four-wheel-drive variants, though. This means the Kuga compares well with similarly powered rivals such as the widely popular Nissan Qashqai. Just steer away from the 2.5-litre petrol Kuga as it isn’t efficient at all with its 28.5mpg.

Side view of Ford Kuga

Ride and handling

The Ford Kuga has a relaxing yet well-ordered ride at low speeds and, while the steering is unexacting and short on feel, it does make city driving a breeze. Nevertheless, there is far too much noise in the road and wind noise department for the Kuga to be a serious motorway vessel. Safety is first-rate, though, with side and curtain airbags helping it achieve a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test score.

Ford Kuga interior

Interior space

Inside, the Kuga is quite spacious in the front, but its plunging roofline intrudes on headroom in the rear, and legroom for backseat passengers is also limited. Alas, the 360-litre boot is smaller than the Ford Focus’s, but a convenient split-tailgate is included in the bountiful list of standard kit.

What to know before you buy

On diesel powered Kuga’s, the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) is known for clogging up. Replacing the filter out of warranty is a costly job, so if your commute involves lots of small, slow journeys, a sporadic motorway run at 70mph should help blow the cobwebs away.

Interior boot space Ford Kuga

A DPF is a filter found in the downpipe section of the exhaust and is specifically designed to lessen the amount of soot passing through. A seriously blocked DPF can cause many problems including loss of power, economy and acceleration response. With even more severe cases, filters that are extremely congested can cause the engine to not start at all.

Also check for warning lights illuminated in the instrumentation panel.  Additionally, a recall to be aware of affects 2.0 litre diesel Kugas produced prior to March 2009. The brake pedal can become almost rigid due to a defective valve within the brake system. This could cause longer stopping distances if the brakes are applied too often at the start of a journey. The fault should have been rectified by now, but if in doubt check with the vendor and online.

Rear of Ford Kuga

Alternative cars

As mentioned, the Kuga’s key used rival is the Nissan Qashqai. Other opponents on the secondhand scene include the Kia Sportage and Volkswagen Tiguan. All of their boots are bigger than the Ford’s.

Alternative car to Ford Kuga - Nissan Qashqai

Overall verdict

The Blue Oval’s Kuga is smart looking and generally reliable, but it doesn’t offer that much fun behind the wheel, and the boot is woefully small for the size of car. It is also a tad lacklustre, but at least it’s a safe car.

A lower-powered 2.0 litre diesel engine in Zetec trim makes a good used buy because it offers the best mix of performance, price, running costs and kit. The front-wheel-drive variant is really what you should try and get, unless you are desperate for 4x4 traction and off-road ability. Front wheel drive Kugas are a little bit cheaper to run than the four-wheel-drive versions and may well have been better cared for.

Expert rating

Performance

Reliability

Space & comfort

Running costs

Value for money

Overall