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Ford Kuga Titanium 2015 review

EXPERT RATING
7
The Ford Kuga has had a major overhaul under the hood with a range of engines that will give buyers a wider choice of more powerful and more efficient units. Significantly, Ford has slashed the price of the cheapest automatic petrol model, putting it within reach of more buyers. When it first arrived on the scene in

The Ford Kuga has had a major overhaul under the hood with a range of engines that will give buyers a wider choice of more powerful and more efficient units.

Significantly, Ford has slashed the price of the cheapest automatic petrol model, putting it within reach of more buyers.

When it first arrived on the scene in 2013, it was hampered by a limited range and an high entry price.

The updated Kuga may look the same as the previous model but all petrol engines across the range are new.

Previously the cheapest ticket into an automatic petrol model was $31,490 plus on-road costs because it was paired with all-wheel drive.

With the revised range the Kuga automatic petrol Ambiente starts at $28,990 plus on-road costs, which is $2500 less than before and only $1500 dearer than the manual.

The replacement engine is an all-new 1.5-litre turbo with more power than the predecessor and the same torque (134kW/240Nm) but it is also less thirsty.

The next model up, the Trend, swaps the previous 1.6‒litre for a new 2.0-litre turbo (178kW/345Nm). Paired with all-wheel drive it costs from $36,490 plus on-roads.

The new diesel (132kW/400Nm) adds $2000 and sips just 5.6L/100km. The top of the range Titianium starts at $44,990 plus on-road costs for the 2.0-litre petrol or $46,990 for the 2.0‒litre turbo diesel.

We drove the entry 1.5-litre turbo four, and from behind the wheel it delivers adequate propulsion without threatening to be a performance marvel. A perfectly respectable six-speed auto flatters the 1.5 with a set of ideally matched ratios.

Meanwhile, the chassis feels up to the job of coping with the extra power in the up-spec models.

The AWD package is going to be an advantage in marginal conditions but for regular daily driving the front-wheel Ambiente ticks the boxes. And it looks good, even with the plastic wheel covers on the 17-inch rims.

Kuga is one of the better SUVs to point at twisty territory

As a family wagon, it is a sensible Ford continues to bundle its best software and sensors in a $1600 "technology pack" that includes adaptive cruise control, blind sport and lane departure warnings, automatic high beam and low-speed automated stopping. A tyre pressure monitor will be included on MY15 versions.

Conspicuous by its absence, however, is a rear-view camera on most models; only the flagship Titanium gets this safety item as standard. It is a glaring omission given that every SUV released in the past 12 months — and numerous small cars including the Honda Jazz and Toyota Yaris — has had a rear-view camera as standard on all models.

Ford makes one available as a dealer-fit accessory (with the display in the rear-view mirror rather than a large screen) for the Ambiente and Trend models. Ford initially said the camera would be $500-$1000, but one dealer we contacted quoted $1500, or $2500 for a camera paired to a new screen and satnav.

The Kuga's dash configuration remains untouched. As such it continues to look cluttered and will cost Ford sales against rivals with sleeker, smarter infotainment setups.

The woefully puny screen doesn't help the Kuga's cause. In the Ambiente, it is a squintingly small 3.5-inches, rising to five inches for the Titanium.

Multimedia panels are a high-profile item in the cabin and the Kuga's is starting to look second rate.

The good news for the Kuga is sales are up 55 per cent year to date, even before the upgraded model goes on sale. The bad news is the vehicle sits a lowly eighth in the class, being hammered by everything from the Nissan X-Trail to the Mitsubishi Outlander.

It is a bit surprising because, at first glance, the Kuga is a good option in this field.

Verdict

The Mazda CX-5 rightfully dominates but the Ford isn't far off the pace in terms of ride quality and steering accuracy.

That's also a positive reflection of the Focus donor car, from which the Kuga started life.

Elevating the body has done little to affect pitch, yaw or roll and makes the Kuga one of the better SUVs to point at twisty territory.

Pricing Guides

$17,990
Based on 140 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$11,555
Highest Price
$28,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Ambiente (AWD) 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $12,966 – 18,888 2015 Ford Kuga 2015 Ambiente (AWD) Pricing and Specs
Ambiente (FWD) 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $12,800 – 15,999 2015 Ford Kuga 2015 Ambiente (FWD) Pricing and Specs
Titanium (AWD) 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $18,890 – 28,990 2015 Ford Kuga 2015 Titanium (AWD) Pricing and Specs
Trend (AWD) 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $12,990 – 23,990 2015 Ford Kuga 2015 Trend (AWD) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Pricing Guide

$9,990

Lowest price, based on 135 car listings in the last 6 months

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