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Honda CR-V vs Ford Kuga

2016 Honda CR-V- VTI-L vs 2016 Ford Kuga Trend Ecoboost

They don’t sell in great numbers but the Honda and Ford are worthy contenders in the family SUV class. Craig Duff splits them.

value

2016 Honda CR-V VTi-L

Honda’s mid-sized SUV comes with a premium price tag. For that you get power front seats, seven-inch multimedia screen with satnav and leather trim highlights. The three-year/100,000km warranty is average and requires twice-yearly servicing. Capped pricing for the first five years/100,000km is $2860 — and doesn’t include fluids (brake and diff) and filters (air and pollen).

2016 Ford Kuga Trend Ecoboost

The Kuga starts at a $5400 discount to the Honda and also gets satnav and a reversing camera, but misses out on a power passenger’s seat. The engine is far perkier than the Honda’s and uses a six-speed auto against the CR-V’s five-ratio job. Servicing costs for the Kuga run to $1755 first five years of annual visits or 15,000km intervals.

design

2016 Honda CR-V VTi-L

Versatility is the name of the game and it makes the most of the available space for gear and occupants alike. The cargo area of 556L blitzes the Kuga’s 406L and there are plenty of stowage spots. Some soft-touch plastics on the dash and doors help lift the feel of the interior, though the driver’s display still looks dated.

2016 Ford Kuga Trend Ecoboost

The European-designed Kuga has a slightly edgier look than the Honda, especially inside. The former button-festooned dash has been replaced by a sleek, pared down look that relies on the touchscreen for most functions. It drastically improves the quality feel inside the Ford, as do the soft-touch panels on contact points. The boot isn’t as big but the low loading height is handy.

technology

2016 Honda CR-V VTi-L

Engine

The 2.4-litre four-cylinder (140kW/222Nm) is an honest performer that enjoys a rev but isn’t in the Kuga’s league for responsiveness. Claimed fuel economy is 8.7L/100km and it uses regular fuel rather than the Ford’s preferred 95 RON. The five-speed auto doesn’t help: it just doesn’t have the range of ratios to balance economy with effort.

2016 Ford Kuga Trend Ecoboost

Engine

No contest, really. Ford’s EcoBoost 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder (178kW/345Nm) is a gem, turning all four wheels, and the automatic has a sports mode. You are never wanting for power, be it off the line or overtaking. The turbo and gearbox allow good progress at low revs, keeping fuel use close to the claim of 8.8L/100km.

safety

2016 Honda CR-V VTi-L

The Honda is as tough as boiled leather when it comes to hitting other objects. ANCAP gave it a score of 35.91/37 and there are six airbags. The downside is buyers of the VTi-L need to drop another $3000 to pick up adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking and lane-keeping assist.

2016 Ford Kuga Trend Ecoboost

The Kuga is inherently strong but you have to buy the high-end models to pick up the active driver aids. ANCAP deemed the Kuga, with its seven airbags, worthy of a high 36.33/37 score. Safety Pack costs $1600 and adds autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, auto high-beam, blind-spot alert and tyre pressure monitoring.

driving

2016 Honda CR-V VTi-L

The experience behind the wheel reflects the ethos behind the CR-V: make it good for everyone. So there’s no razor-sharp steering, the brakes don’t bite hard enough to eject passengers out the windscreen and it doesn’t sit ab-clenchingly flat through the turns. It handles everyday duties exceptionally and only is found wanting when asked to show more athleticism than the engineers intended. This is what most SUV buyers want, so the Honda hits the mark.

2016 Ford Kuga Trend Ecoboost

The Kuga does its ABC — acceleration, braking and cornering — harder in every way than the CR-V. That makes it a more capable machine even if few buyers will ever explore the dynamic limits. In regular around-town driving, it hits bumps slightly harder than the Honda but is more composed over corrugations and doesn’t roll as much through the turns. Outward vision is good.

Verdict

2016 Honda CR-V VTi-L

2016 Ford Kuga Trend Ecoboost

The Kuga wins by virtue of having a more modern drivetrain. The Honda is one of the best packaged vehicles in this class but its high price and inefficient engine let it down

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