2021 Ford Kuga Review

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The Ford Kuga is a very smart SUV and is the brand’s most popular big family car. Its extended wheelbase and body design mean it’s both taller and longer than more premium rivals. Yet at the same time the C1 platform (the same one used in the Focus) its based on mean this extra bulk is backed by agile handling and sensational manoeuvrability.

“Convenience technology features, comfort and space come in the bucketloads in the Kuga. It’s competitively priced and cheap to run, especially if you choose the plug-in hybrid model.”

Cameron Hale, Moneyshake Car Reviewer

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2021 Ford Kuga interior

Ford Kuga interior design and layout

What used to be a cluttered dashboard with a complicated array of buttons and dials has been wound back by Ford. A much-needed third generation facelift has seen the tiny obstructive screen (which used to sit within a large alcove jutting out of the dash) removed. In its place is an 8in infotainment touchscreen display which is a lot easier to navigate.

A three-spoke leather steering wheel and gearknob are also new additions, which feel premium and complement the refreshed cockpit.

What gives the Kuga brownie points over its competitors is the vast amount of room available to stretch out in. The Volkswagen Tiguan, Kia Sportage and Peugeot 3008 aren’t as roomier inside, both for the driver and passengers. What’s more is that the driver’s seat can be adjusted six ways (four ways for the front passenger) and both get extra lumbar support. So, getting comfortable for longer journeys is easily done.

But what about rear passengers? Well, the backs of the three seats slide and recline on all versions of the Kuga. This flexibility, coupled with the low-set and wide bottom, means three adults will be accommodated for most journeys.

Of course, not everything is perfect about the interior of this car. Mainly, you only get dual-zone climate control in the back when you choose the pricier ST-Line X trim or higher. This can be a make or break deal for family car buyers wanting their children to be comfortable in the back.

2021 Ford Kuga infotainment and tech

You won’t need to splash out on the top-spec Vignale model in order to get your hands on a neat infotainment system, or other tech features for that matter. ST-Line Edition versions and upwards include a massive 12.3in screen that sits behind the steering wheel. To cap it off you’ll also get a premium B&O sound system that delivers higher quality audio when you’re playing your media on the go.

The latest Ford Sync 3 navigation system makes an appearance on the Titanium Edition model. As the name suggests, you’ll get a built-in satnav which can be controlled using voice, steering wheel controls or the touchscreen. On top of this, the ‘sync’ aspect of the name is also a nod to how easily you control the system’s audio by hooking up your smartphone to the interface. This function supports Apple, Android and Windows devices too.

Entertainment isn’t the only area where the Kuga scores well for its tech. There are a number of clever additions which make the driving experience that bit more joyous, including:

  • Quickclear heated windscreen (de-ices the windscreen in minutes)
  • Tyre pressure monitoring system
  • Intelligent speed assist
  • Lane keeping aid with lane departure warning
  • Emergency brake assist and post-collision braking
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • A Ford ‘MyKey’ – allows you to set a top speed for the car, max audio volume and need for a seat belt before being able to start the car
  • Wireless phone charging pad

Additional technology available on higher-grade models:

  • Keyless entry and start (Titanium Edition and above)
  • Automatic wipers and headlights (Titanium Edition and above)
  • Multi colour ambient lighting (Titanium and above)
  • Enhanced active park assist with front and rear parking sensors (ST-Line and above)
  • Hands-free power tailgate (ST-Line X and Vignale only)

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2021 Ford Kuga practicality

Ford Kuga back seats

The Ford Kuga has been improved in many ways relating to styling, both inside and out. It looks fresher and genuinely puts the ‘Sport’ back into SUV. But the point of this type of vehicle is that it delivers on ‘Utility’ too, the other key component of the acronym it’s judged on.

It rises to the occasion too in this respect. A whopping 200 litres more has been added to the boot for starters, making a total of 475 litres. Unfortunately it’s way off being the 615-litre space offered by the VW Tiguan, or even the 467-litre cargo of the Sportage. However, it redeems itself by having a tall, wide opening and low load lip, making it easier to lift larger items into the back.

In terms of stowage in the Kuga, there are plenty in both the front and the back. A deep centre console has enough room for a 500ml bottle of drink and some other bits, while there’s a cubby space in front of it to hold your phone for the wireless/USB charging. If you though that was good, then you’ll be thrilled to find that there’s even two cupholders in the front of the gearbox, big door bins and a sizeable glovebox.

Those in the back won’t be as generously catered for, unfortunately. The door bins are only suitable for smaller bottles and there isn’t much else in terms of storage, other than map pockets on the back of the driver and front passenger seats. However, a 12V socket is available as standard for phone charging.

2021 Ford Kuga on the road

Ford Kuga on a country road

There are loads of engines to choose from in your new Ford Kuga, the standout being the plug-in hybrid unit. It uses a 2.5-litre petrol engine which is supported by a 14.4kWh battery pack, delivering a total of 225bhp. It makes for the most refined drive of the bunch, especially as it’s coupled with an automatic gearbox which seems effortless when shifting up and down.

It’s a very savvy engine that will return around 201mpg and emit just 26g/km of CO2, making it a perfect company car option thanks to low BiK tax rates (Benefit in Kind). Another useful feature of the plug-in Kuga is that it offers an electric range of up to 35 miles which is ideal for local, zero-emissions driving.

If you don’t plan to do a lot of miles then there are two variations of petrol units which use Ford’s savvy EcoBoost technology. The standard one has 120bhp, though this never feels like enough punch for this big car. In particular this can be felt whenever you need to perform an overtake. We recommend the 150bhp alternative, which still returns a combined fuel economy of 43mpg.

All petrol versions come with front-wheel drive, so you will need to opt for a diesel if you want your SUV to come with intelligent all-wheel drive. Speaking of diesel, if this is your choice of fossil fuel then we recommend avoiding the lesser-powered 1.5-litre, 120bhp unit. While the 54mpg combined fuel economy is great to save you money at the pumps, the more potent 2.0-litre, 190bhp engine which accelerates up to motorway speed a not insignificant 3.3 seconds quicker. It still returns a solid 50mpg too which makes it a great choice for a motorway cruiser.

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