The most established, in the UK market, of Ford’s current SUV line-up is the Kuga. Bookended by the dinky EcoSport crossover and the daddy of the line-up the Ford Edge, it’s been around in the UK since 2012.
A new car was launched in October last year to ensure that this long-established model is no creaking grandpa of the Ford stable.
Ford say it’s more refined, safer and more technologically advanced than the old car and an equipment list that includes advanced driver assistance packages and Ford’s self-park technology adds credence to this claim.
Our Titanium X test car, which sits parallel to the ST-Line X second top of the line-up behind the super-luxurious Vignale car, is certainly a far more premium-feeling prospect than a similarly-specced version of the old car I tested a year or two back.
Full Salerno leather interior, 10-way adjustable power seats, power tailgate and dual-zone climate control are among the standard kit in our car and you want for very little – with the exception of a parking camera.
Externally it’s more handsome than before and the new grille brings it into line with the larger Edge model, increasing presence significantly.
Ford Kuga Titanium X 2.0 TDCi PowerShift AWD
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder
Transmission: Six-speed auto
Top speed: 124mph
0-62mph: 10 seconds
Economy: 54.3 mpg combined
CO2 emissions:134 g/km
This is the first Ford I’ve tested featuring the latest Sync 3 infotainment system. In terms of simplicity of use, I felt the Sync 2 system was one of the market-leading systems available – I had high hopes, then, for this all-new interface.
Designed to seamlessly connect with the driver’s electronic devices and feel like a natural extension of the modern, connected, world, Sync 3 features improved voice commands and voice to map integration, Apple Car Play and Android Auto support.
By pushing a button and saying “I need a coffee,” “I need petrol,” or “I need to park,” you can locate nearby cafés, petrol stations or car parks, and find train stations, airports, and hotels. The improved eight-inch touch screen is responsive and the full-colour interface an improvement on the old one.
SYNC 3 also delivers SYNC AppLink for customers, enabling voice-activation from the driver’s seat of a range of smartphone apps that include Glympse, Aupeo, Spotify, MyBoxMan, HearMeOut, AccuWeather, and Los 40 Principales.
The 456-litre boot is some way off class-leading examples from the Volkswagen Group, but the Kuga feels more spacious in the cabin than the outgoing car. Cabin quality is much improved and an all-round robustness compliments the chunky bodywork nicely.
Traction and stability is improved via a new torque vectoring system but, overall, the driving experience feels pretty similar to the older model. That’s no criticism, however. The Kuga has always been one of the better driving SUVs on the market, with handling characteristics that belie its bulk to feel more car-like than your average off-road capable vehicle.
With an undeniable emphasis on comfort over sportiness, it’s still a pleasurable enough drive outside the city and body roll is minimal for the class.
Our test car was powered by the 178bhp 2.0 TDCi engine which, unchanged from the old car, propels the Kuga to 62 in 10 seconds mated to the PowerShift auto box.
Over the course of the test we averaged 42 miles per gallon, short of the 54.3 combined figure on the spec sheet, but not overly so in comparison to similar competitors we’ve tested. 134 g/km CO2 means £200 VED.
Sync 3 aside, Ford’s upgrades to the Kuga haven’t broken any new ground, but they have brought an already strong seller bang up to date. Substantial-feeling and well equipped it’s a premium offering from Ford at a competitive price point.