New Family Car Review
The Ford Kuga is a solid looking family car that offers good value for money. Its reliable and sporty driving experience has made it a firm favourite in the ever popular SUV market
The Kuga is a smart and statuesque SUV, even though it's not a particularly big one. We like its chunky, handsome and distinctive looks, which helps when it's up against a lot of tough competition; the five-seat SUV market is the most popular in the UK. You get alloy wheels on Zetec models upwards, which add a sporty flavour, and roof rails are an option for fitting a top box, kayak or whatever you fancy (although you can always buy roof rails as an after-market addition to most cars).
- Great to drive
- High up seats good for kids who are prone to car-sickness
- Only two isofix points and not enough space for three car seats in the back
- Average storage space in boot
- Only two USB points in the front none in the back
Inside the Ford Kuga
For everyday family use, the simple design inside the car will be enough for most people, and the plastic surfaces are durable and easily wiped clean – crucial with kids of all ages.
If you take the parcel shelf out from the boot, you can fit an entire travel system in, including base, carrycot and baby seat – but it has to stack up, and therefore blocks the rear view for the driver.
How many car seats can you fit in the back seat?
While you get a high-up driving position which inspires confidence, and good visibility of the road for travel-sick children in the back, there's really only space for two car seats across the middle row.
Thankfully though, the two Isofix bars are exposed and easy to reach, and if that middle seat is free, you can pull down the central squab which reveals to cupholders – a handy addition.
Infotainment and extrasThe infotainment system brightens things up a little, but there's not much in the way of beauty or innovation in this car – there's the usual cupholders, pockets on the back of the front seats and small bins in the rear doors, but they're not deep enough to hold anything handy.
In the front, the deep storage bin between the two seats has a separate floating tray and two USB charge points. It's frustrating when cars don't have rear USB points so the kids can watch screens and charge them at the same time, but currently it's mostly just luxury brands that provide rear USB points.
There are four models in the Kuga range, and you get plenty of toys from the basic model upwards. Zetec gets you four powered windows, hill start, cruise control, air-con, and DAB, Bluetooth and voice control. Titanium trim gets you fancier air con, sat-nav, automatic lights and wipers, and some leather on the seats. ST-Line is the sporty option, with sports seats, shiny interior bits, and different engineering to make it sportier to drive. Top of the range Vignale looks great, but is a lot more expensive. All versions have child lock for doors and windows.
What is the Ford Kuga like to drive?
The Kuga is a good car to drive, delivering a great mix of comfort and control. Driving is where Ford always excels, making all its big cars – SUVs and MPVS – feel like much smaller, more sporty cars. And you can pick a version that will suit you. For example, if you love driving, go for one of the sportier ST-Line models, which has more connected steering and loads of grip.
The manual gearbox is really pleasing to use; the automatic gearbox isn't the sharpest, and takes a while to find the right gear, so we'd advocate going with the manual.
You can get your driving position spot on, with easily reachable pedals, and lots of adjustment to the seat and steering wheel. There’s a good view over the bonnet, but the big pillar at the side makes it hard to see traffic sometimes. Power-assisted steering, which makes it lighter at parking speeds to help you manoeuvre, makes it easier to swing into a space.
There's quite a bit of wind and road noise at faster speeds or on bumpy roads, but on the plus side it might drown out the demands of “Are we nearly there yet?” from the back seat.
Running costs and reliability
The Kuga's purchase price is about in the middle for the class, with decent resale values: the Kuga is one of Ford's most desirable models. You can get one on a PCP monthly deal for a little over £300.
The Kuga has lots of parts in it from other Ford models, so it's all tried and tested. If anything does go wrong, it shouldn't be too expensive to put right, and Ford is generally reliable as a brand.
Some of the models available will have relatively low running costs. The 120 horsepower diesel for example emits 115g/km CO2, and has an official fuel economy of 64.2mpg.
What are the safety features like?
The Ford Kuga scored the maximum five-star rating in safety organisation Euro NCAP’s crash tests, with an 86% child occupant protection score. Standard safety equipment includes stability control and seven airbags, including one to protect the driver’s knees.
Optional equipment includes a system that helps keep you in your lane, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitor, an automatic parking system, and a system that applies the brakes automatically if the car senses an imminent low-speed crash.
Model: Ford Kuga ST-Line X
Number of isofix points? Two
Room for 3 child seats? No
Price: from £22,600
How we test
Teaming up with Auto Trader, we surveyed over 10,000 drivers to discover which cars really offer value for families. After crunching the data we put the top three family cars through their paces to find out which new car is bestRead more »
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