The Kuga is smooth and comfortable, and the stronger diesel engine has lots of oomph
It looks smart and it's easy for the driver to get comfortable
Impressive list of safety features but passenger airbag deactivation costs extra
Interior feels solid but mechanical reliability has yet to be proved
The boot isn't as big or as practical as rivals
All versions are well equipped
With the higher-powered of the two 2.0-litre diesel engines, the Ford Kuga feels smooth and strong at all speeds; it's pretty quiet, too, and the responsive steering would make it tempting for keen drivers to make the most of faster B-road bends if it wasn't for the fact that the body tends to lean if you take corners too quickly. Overall, however, it's a relaxing and reassuring car to drive, and the suspension absorb most bumps well, though the car can be a little jittery round town. The higher powered versions of both engines come with on-demand four-wheel-drive that cuts automatically when conditions require it, while the other engines are two-wheel-drive only. Bear in mind that the automatic gearbox with the higher-powered petrol engine makes rather clumsy gear shifts.
There's lots of space for everyone and it's easy for the driver to get the right driving position. The outer rear seats have Isofix and also recline, and Ford says that when Isofix is in use it's safe to fit your child seat with the rear car seat slightly reclined if this creates a better fit for your child seat. You can also drop the seats in one simple movement but it's a shame this creates a step in the load bay. Also, with the seats up the boot is significantly smaller than those in rival cars such as the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5, but it is at least usefully square in shape. The interior is smart but some of the controls are a bit fiddly and the sat nav screen is small and set back so it's tricky to see at a glance. All versions are well equipped; the top-level Titanium+ includes a panoramic roof, powered front seats and LED lights all round.
The interior feels well built throughout. However, the previous version of the Kuga was scored only average for reliability in the 2012 JD Power customer satisfaction survey. All Kugas have stability control and seven airbags including curtain 'bags that extend to the rear, plus a system that alerts the emergency services if there's a crash. The Kuga scored the maximum five stars in crash tests by Euro NCAP, including 85% for child occupants, but it's disappointing that if you want to fit a rear-facing child seat on the front passenger seat you have to pay between £200-£300 to have a dealer fit the option to be able to deactivate the airbag here as necessary. Some Kuga models also offer the reassurance of four-wheel drive, plus an alarm and an immobiliser help protect against thieves.
The Kuga is good to drive and it looks smart, but its boot isn't especially big for the class and it's not as efficient as some rivals - in short, it's fine but it's nothing special. Running costs aren't anything to write home about, either. The Kuga isn't as efficient as rivals such as the Mazda CX-5, either, and while it's fairly reasonably priced it doesn't hold its value that well. Overall, it's OK, but several other SUVs of this type do it all better.