CHOICE tested a top-of-the-range Ford Kuga Titanium with a 2L turbo diesel engine (a 1.6L turbo petrol engine is also available), six-speed automatic transmission and technology pack.
A medium SUV (occupying the same space as the Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester), the Ford Kuga has family appeal, so we also gave it to CHOICE voting members Sean and Justine, and their girls Abbie (six) and Lulu (four), for a weekend of family driving around Sydney.
Sean and Justine say:
We like the access to the rear seats for getting our kids in and out. The child seat anchors are easy to locate in the boot, but difficult to access.
Our girls could open and close their windows but couldn't reach any other controls, and they had enough leg room, although with the driver's seat all the way back the girls could kick the back of the seat.
With two child seats installed there isn't enough room in the centre for another passenger to sit in comfort.
There's plenty of boot space for bikes, strollers and shopping. We like the fold-down trays for rear seat passengers - although items on them can slide off when the car turns a corner - as well as the panorama glass roof, which was a big hit with the kids.
The Active City Stop – an optional low-speed collision detection system installed on the tested model – is an interesting but potentially distracting feature.
The Kuga is very comfortable to drive, but a bit too big and not so easy to reverse-park, despite the reversing camera. We weren't sure how to use the Active Park Assist (although CHOICE's tester found this feature very effective at reverse-parking the car).
The Kuga has too many controls and screens for our tastes. Overall, while we found the Kuga an impressive step-up from our old Holden Vectra – and we think that with practice the extra features would prove useful - we'd prefer a car with more rear seat space and fewer bells and whistles.
The tested model has a useful range of features, including keyless entry and push-button start, built-in reversing camera and GPS, hands-free power tailgate and no fuel filler cap to remove or lose – only a spring-loaded flap that closes the fuel pipe.
The technology pack option installed on the tested car includes the Active City Stop; Blind Spot Information System (a light indicating when a car is in your blind spot); Lane Keeping Aid (the steering wheel vibrates if you get too close to the lane edge) and Adaptive Cruise Control. The latter feature maintains the distance to the car in front (there are five possible distance settings) and speeds up or slows down the Kuga as needed, but won't bring it to a complete stop – the driver takes over when the car has slowed to about 20km/h.
The fuel economy is good for a heavy car, but performance is less than impressive and the engine struggles sometimes, especially when taking off. The gearbox can hesitate a little to find the right gear. The ride is reasonably smooth and quiet, although undulations and road noise are noticeable on coarser surfaces. The steering wheel feels plasticky, even though it's leather.
The Kuga is a comfortable car to drive with good fuel economy for its size, and a range of useful safety features and options. But Sean and Justine found it doesn't have the internal space they'd like, while our tester found its driving performance a bit unimpressive.
Cost: from $49,063
Fuel usage claim vs measured per 100km: 6.4L vs 7.5L
Acceleration to 100km/h: 11.7s
Braking distance from 60km/h: 15.8m
ANCAP safety rating: 5 stars out of 5