If you’re shopping in the SUV segment the third-generation Ford Kuga is certainly worth your consideration. The Kuga has evolved into a sharper, more sophisticated large SUV available in a choice of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) engines.
While many drivers look to make the change to an electric motor by first opting for a hybrid, they will be pleased to hear that the PHEV engine choice on offer here is rather nippy. Combining a 2.5litre petrol engine with an electric motor, Ford has managed a power output of 222bhp which is capable of 60mph in 8.6seconds. As for charging time you’re looking at 6 hours from a regular three-pin domestic plug and a shorter time of 3.5 hours from a 7kW home wall-box. For this, you get a relatively good electric-only range of 35miles according to Ford, which turned out to be more like 30miles in real-world testing. However, it is still impressive when compared to most rivals which muster around the 20mile mark.
It really is one of the nicest plug-in hybrid SUVs in terms of drive quality thanks to its quick and precise handling. Although there is a heaviness to the vehicle, regardless of which engine you choose, and this is, of course, more apparent in the PHEV model due to the weighty battery pack. The heaviness tends to lead to a lean into the corners which is something that may take a bit of getting used to.
Trim levels & features
The entry-level trim ‘Zetec’ includes some good equipment while allowing you to keep costs low. These features include a heated windscreen, 17in alloy wheels, cruise control, automatic lights, and power-folding door mirrors. To get the plug-in hybrid version you will need to opt for the ‘Titanium’ trim which includes 18in alloy wheels, part-leather seats, dual-zone climate control and automatic wipers. From this trim and up you will also benefit from bright LED headlights and a B&O premium sound system. Next up you have the ‘ST-Line trim’. While this gives you nice sporty styling options and a 12.3in digital instrument display it is pretty pricey for what you get, and the ride suspension seems a little too stiff. The ‘ST-Line X’ adds a panoramic sunroof, heated front seats and 19in alloy wheels. The range-topping ‘Vignale’ trim includes a heated steering wheel, head-up display and adaptive LED headlights.
All trim levels feature an 8in touchscreen infotainment system which is neither class-leading nor disappointing. It seems easier to use than that found in the Peugeot 5008 and the Mitsubishi Outlander, but not quite as sharp or fast as that in the Volkswagen Tiguan and the Skoda Kodiaq. There is Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring on all models so that you can operate your mobile apps such as music and Sat Nav. A wireless charging pad which is compatible with most phones is also a nice touch.
When compared to the Peugeot 5008, or the Mazda CX-5, the cabin quality leaves a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, there is lots of rather shiny hard plastic. While the Vignale trim sees improvement thanks to its leather seats and dash, it is still a mark off what premium-badged SUV’s are offering. However, the dash does include some nice big easy-to-use buttons for frequently adjusted elements such as climate control.
This is a tall SUV which offers a high driving position. In fact, some have argued that it is too high in relation to the dashboard. This could feel odd at first, although we believe drivers will soon get used it and there is plenty of seat adjustment available. As any owner of a recent Ford will be able to attest to, the newer models tend to have somewhat imposing front and rear pillars. The 2020 Kuga is no different. In some driving scenarios this can lead to poor visibility, so Ford has counteracted this with the addition of front and rear parking sensors as standard. However, a front and rear camera is part of the optional, and pricey, Driver’s Assistance Pack.
Size & space
The Kuga height lends itself nicely to plenty of head space in the front. The space in the rear is generous and comfortable enough for a couple of tall adults, with a slightly raised middle seat and central hump which feet will need to go either side of. While a middle passenger would not be as comfortable as other rear passengers, space isn’t as limited as some SUV’s offered by rival carmakers. It helps that the rear seats recline to offer more comfort, as well as slide back and forth to offer more knee room, or to free up extra boot space. You are looking at 475 litres of standard boot capacity, 526 litres with the seats pulled forward, and 1,534 litres with the seats folded down flush to the boot floor in a 60/40 split. Thankfully, there is no lip on the boot, which is a really handy feature for loading or unloading heavy items. And if you opt for the ST-Line X or Vignale trim, you’ll get an even handier hands-free electric tailgate feature.
The Ford Kuga is competitively priced generally within the SUV market with an RRP of £26,765 – £38,955. With the PHEV model being very well priced compared to other plug-in models such as the Mitsubishi Outlander. There are also some great PCP deals to be had no matter your trim or engine choice.
In short, Ford has created a likeable large SUV in this third-generation Kuga. It seems to be becoming standard for brands to offer at least a hybrid model, if not a fully electrified version, amongst the line up within an SUV range. But it doesn’t always work, does it? Yet, with this Kuga we can comfortably say the PHEV version just feels ‘right’. And because of that (and its long electric-only range) we would opt to recommend the PHEV version above any of the petrol or diesel variants. Thankfully, most will be able to overlook its less than impressive interior quality, in favour of an all-round decent car offered for a decent price.