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What is the Ford Kuga?

The Ford Kuga is one of Europe’s best-selling medium SUVs, and not without good reason. It sits between the EcoSport and Edge in the company’s SUV range and offers stylish good looks, keen driving dynamics and a range of trim levels to suit most tastes and budgets. That said, the current second-generation model dates back to 2012, and although a 2016 facelift has kept it relevant, the Kuga faces a threat from an ever-increasing array of rivals, hence an all-new Mk3 version arriving by the end of 2019.

Volkswagen’s Tiguan, Skoda Karoq and SEAT Ateca are just three of its fiercest opponents, but the Kuga must also see off the likes of the Peugeot 3008, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson and Mazda CX-5.

At-a-glance 2019 Ford Kuga specs

Top-speed: 112-124mph

0-62mph: 9.2-13.4 seconds

Fuel economy: 28.2-46.3mpg

Emissions: 137-209g/km

Boot space: 456-1653 litres

Which versions of the Ford Kuga are available?

The Ford Kuga comes in one bodystyle, but that’s not to say that the assemblage of trim levels won’t leave you scratching your head. There are no fewer than six to choose from, including Zetec, Titanium Edition, Titanium X Edition, Vignale, ST-Line and ST-Line Edition.

In simple terms, the Zetec is the mainstream model, while the ST-Line versions boast sporty styling. The other trims major on luxury, including the lavish Kuga Vignale, which Ford hopes can muscle in on the premium segment. There has been a wide range of engines available over the Kuga’s lifetime, but today you’re limited to a 1.5-litre petrol, a 1.5-litre diesel and the familiar 2.0-litre TDCi diesel.

Ford Kuga rear

The petrol engine is offered in 120hp, 150hp or 176hp outputs, while the 1.5-litre diesel delivers 120hp. There are also three variants of the 2.0 TDCi – 120hp, 150hp and 180hp. Transmissions are limited to a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, and there no hybrid variants available in the Mk2 generation.

Ford Kuga styling and engineering

Taking the EcoSport out of the equation, Ford has a knack of building good looking mainstream cars, and the Kuga is no exception. The 2016 facelift ushered in a raft of changes to bring it into line with the rest of the Ford range, most notably the Edge SUV, along with an improved cabin, a simplified dashboard and the latest Sync 3 infotainment system.

But there’s no escaping the fact that the Kuga is using old architecture, which means it’s beginning to show its age. The likes of the Tiguan, Skoda and Seat look fresher, while many rivals feature the latest tech and safety systems.

How does the Ford Kuga drive?

Few cars in this segment are as good to drive as the Ford Kuga, thanks mainly to communicative steering, bags of grip and willing turn-in. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that the Kuga is as pleasant to drive as some family hatchbacks, making it the default choice if you’re after keen dynamics. ST-Line models get sports suspension, while all-wheel-drive Kugas come with a lowered ride height.

But don’t be in a hurry to opt for the more powerful petrol and diesel engines, because the smooth 1.5-litre diesel offers a reasonable 120hp and 270Nm of torque, while the six-speed manual gearbox feels solid and well-designed. It’s our pick of the range.

How much does the Ford Kuga cost?

The entry-level Seat Ateca undercuts the basic Zetec by around £1,000 and feels fresher than the Kuga, while the Nissan Qashqai creeps below the £20,000 mark. The top-spec Kuga Vignale just about manages to remain cheaper than true premium rivals, but it doesn’t have the badge or overall quality to mix it with the Germans. The Kuga isn’t necessarily expensive, but given the age of the architecture and the seemingly endless array of rivals, securing a healthy discount should be high on your agenda if you intend to buy one before the new version is unveiled.

Find out how Kuga drivers rate their Fords with our comprehensive owners’ reviews.

Ford Kuga Model History

First-generation Ford Kuga (2008 - 2012)

Ford Kuga Mk1

Launched in 2008, the first-generation Ford Kuga was one of the first cars to capitalise on the crossover craze kick-started by the Nissan Qashqai in 2006. It was based on the Ford Focus, which meant that it was better to drive than most rivals, while the SUV styling meant that it was able to turn heads at a time when the segment was still in its infancy.

Cleverly, Ford offered two- and four-wheel drive variants, although only one diesel engine was available at launch. Other options were soon added, including the same 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine used in the Focus ST and RS models. Thanks to its 28.5mpg thirst and 234g/km CO2 emissions, UK sales were limited, but it makes for an interesting used car buy.