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Ford Kuga 2015 review

Ford's latest take on the mid-sized SUV is a more convincing effort.

It's more than a decade since Ford Australia became a serious contender in the SUV market with the Territory.

Arguably ahead of the game with the Territory, it has missed the boat with its compact SUV contenders. It persevered with the long-in-the-tooth Escape, then launched the Kuga as a top-end model only at a time when the vehicle was coming to the end of its product cycle and felt dated.

But Ford is attempting to climb from the middle of the SUV pack with an expanded Kuga range that includes more powerful engines and more attractive technology. There are still holes in the range though: There is only one model grade in 2WD, while most competitors have two.

Design
  • 2015 TF MkII Ford Kuga Titanium 2015 TF MkII Ford Kuga Titanium
  • 2015 TF MkII Ford Kuga Titanium 2015 TF MkII Ford Kuga Titanium
  • 2015 TF MkII Ford Kuga Titanium interior 2015 TF MkII Ford Kuga Titanium interior
  • 2015 TF MkII Ford Kuga Titanium 2015 TF MkII Ford Kuga Titanium
  • 2015 TF MkII Ford Kuga Titanium 2015 TF MkII Ford Kuga Titanium
  • 2015 TF MkII Ford Kuga Trend 2015 TF MkII Ford Kuga Trend
  • 2015 TF MkII Ford Kuga Trend 2015 TF MkII Ford Kuga Trend
  • 2015 TF MkII Ford Kuga Ambiente 2015 TF MkII Ford Kuga Ambiente
  • 2015 TF MkII Ford Kuga Ambiente 2015 TF MkII Ford Kuga Ambiente

The Kuga looks pretty slick from the outside, with sharp edges and a hunkered down stance that makes it seem sportier than some competitors.

Inside, it's a mixed bag, with a small centre screen set back in a chunky dash with a shiny black plastic surround on the audio unit that doesn't quite fit with the rest of the design. The information display in the instrument panel is easy to operate and provides a stack of trip information all at once through a four-way split screen. 

It also has a digital speedo in the menu. Elsewhere in the cabin, blue mood lighting and leather upholstery lift the ambience. The second row is a little tight for space compared with some rivals but the seats recline and there are separate aircon vents for the second row, as well as a 12-volt outlet and two tray tables on the back of the front seats. The rear load area is also relatively deep and wide.

About town

The Titanium has satnav and reversing camera as standard equipment, unlike cheaper models in the range, where a reversing camera (incorporated into the satnav) is a $1088 option. You also get automatic reverse parking for tight spots and front parking sensors.

On the whole, the Kuga is a trouble-free commuter, although the automatic transmission can sometimes stutter when changing gears.

You can open the rear tailgate with no hands by sweeping your foot under the boot — convenient if you've got your hands full. If you option the $1600 safety pack you can get, among other safety aids, Ford's "active city stop" which can apply the brakes to avoid low-speed nose-to-tail accidents.

On the whole, the Kuga is a trouble-free commuter, although the automatic transmission can sometimes stutter when changing gears.

On the road

Leave the confines of the city and the Kuga is one of the best-driving SUVs in the business, thanks to sharing its platform with the accomplished Focus hatch. The steering is sharp, body roll and lean through corners is well controlled for a tall-riding vehicle and grip is also impressive.

The Kuga is one of the few SUVs that is fun to drive on a twisting bit of country road. It's also well equipped for the freeway, with a well-controlled but comfortable ride. Pay the extra for the safety pack and you get auto high beam, lane departure warning, blind spot monitor and adaptive cruise control.

Performance

Ford gave the Kuga an update late last year and the headline act was the inclusion of the 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine that powers the Falcon. Effectively, for a $250 price rise, buyers get 30 per cent more power, or 178kW. That is significantly more than the best-selling Mazda CX-5's 136kW and on par with the turbo version of Subaru's Forester.

It's a strong, free-revving engine that gets the Kuga off the mark swiftly and has a wide spread of pulling power for relaxed highway cruising and overtaking.

Apart from the occasional low-speed hesitation, the transmission is smooth and quick-shifting, extracting the most from the engine. It is quite thirsty, though. We logged 14.0L/100km around town and the official combined consumption is 8.8L/100km, compared with the CX-5's 7.3L/100km. And it sips premium.

Verdict

It's at the upper end of the price range for this type of vehicle but the Kuga is comfortable and well equipped with a strong engine and good road manners.
at a glance

What it's got

A heap of gadgets, leather, heated seats, generous load area, push-button start, panorama sunroof.

What it hasn't 

No front-drive option in Titanium, stop-start technology.

Ownership

Seven years' capped price servicing. First three years or 45,000km cost $895 plus $125 for fluids, which is pretty cheap. Warranty is average at three years/100,00km and Ford adds a year's auto club membership.

Pick of the range 

If you don't need all-wheel-drive (and let's face it, most don't) Ford dealers are doing drive-away deals on the entry level Ambiente model for just $29,990.

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
Pricing Guide

$9,990

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

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