Ford’s family SUV is all-new, and with sleeker styling it signals a move away from the blocky SUV body form and towards the more social acceptable crossover look. The new Kuga from a distance could be mistaken for a large Ford Focus with its hatchback-esque silhouette. The latest Kuga is longer, lower and slightly wider than the car it replaces. At first glance its headlights are more technical and the new grille highlights a wider stance while adding freshness to its styling. There is new technology and driving aids while under the bonnet new Kuga is available with a range of powertrains that reflect the times were in. Hybrid and plug in hybrid will get a lot of attention while the old reliables of petrol and diesel power continue. We’ve been testing the 1.5 litre EcoBlue diesel version this week.
Electrification is the buzzword but for those driving outside urban areas a hybrid can be a thirsty beast. For many drivers diesel still makes economic sense and the Kuga offers higher mileage drivers an option. Our front wheel drive 6 speed manual test car’s performance was far from thrilling and simply adequate with 120hp and a more impressive 300nm of pulling power aka torque. 0-100km/h takes a modest 11.7 seconds and top speed is 180km/h. New Kuga is big in its class. It is 14mm longer than the Toyota RAV4 and 114mm longer than the class leading Hyundai Tucson.
Like all Fords the Kuga handles well and features a composed ride quality that is as familiar as an old friend. 17 inch alloys are standard on Titanium with 18s and 19s also in the range – depending on the grade. The suspension is firm but comfortable. The steering feels connected and is well geared for a family car. The brakes are good too but were a little grabby at slow speed.
The cabin feels familiar yet a lot has changed. The driver can easily get a good driving position and all round visibility is good too. The new dash, switchgear and general ergonomics are about average for the class and lack a wow factor. Rear passenger space is good and the seating flexible. The boot is quite small for its class, and even smaller again in the PHEV version. The boot floor is set high and under its floor is a space saver spare. The rear seats fold easily and produce a near flat cargo area. The tailgate/boot comes with a novel fabric load cover (much like a sun shade) that while weight saving is not ideal. It clips awkwardly in place and we reckon won’t last long – that said its replacement part cost should be relatively low.
There is a comprehensive engine range although availability depends on each country’s Ford importer/distributor. Two petrol/electric hybrids feature in the range. Both have an efficient 2.5 litre engine coupled to a CVT automatic gearbox. The 190hp hybrid (HEV) and 225hp plug in hybrid (PHEV / 14.4kWh battery / Type 2 socket) like our test diesel are front wheel drive. The PHEV has a maximum electric zero emissions driving range of 65km and can cruise on the motorway using electricity alone using a light right foot. If the PHEV is used as intended (charged-up frequently) it is capable of truly impressive fuel economy. If you want an all-wheel drive (AWD) Kuga, Ford has two. Both come with a high powered diesel or petrol engine. The AWD ‘Duratec’ petrol powered Kuga with 190hp/400nm married to an 8-speed auto features a 0-100km/h time of 8.7 seconds.
Kuga grades feature: Titanium, ST-Line, ST-Line X and Vignale. Pricing starts from €41,480 (Titanium). The new Ford Kuga gets lots of new safety aids and assistance systems that will help make our roads safer. Connectivity takes a leap forward too. The new Ford Kuga is a solid performer with the PHEV version the most interesting. The diesel Kuga fills a role that many Irish buyers will appreciate and with fewer rivals offering a diesel option the EcoBlue could do surprisingly well. In 1.5 litre EcoBlue form the Kuga is at its dullest in terms of driving dynamics but in many ways it is well suited to active family use.