Parkers overall rating: 3.8 out of 5 3.8
  • Broad range of engines available
  • Hybrids promise great efficiency
  • Little choice for four-wheel drive fans

What engines are on offer?

You won’t be spoiled for choice when it comes to the Ford Kuga’s engine range. There are six in total – one petrol, two pure diesels, and one of all three flavours of hybrid: mild hybrid (mHEV), self-charging hybrid (FHEV), and plug-in hybrid (PHEV).

That’s an impressively diverse lineup, and means there should be something for everyone – from a budget and frugal diesel right up to the flexible PHEV.

Petrol engines

There’s just one pure petrol engine, with the other two being hybrid models. It’s a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, badged ‘EcoBoost’ like most of Ford’s petrol engines. It puts out 150hp and 240Nm of torque, which paired to a six-speed manual gearbox gives it a top speed of 121mph and a 0-62mph sprint of 9.7 seconds.

For undemanding drivers, we’d say that’s plenty. Though we’ve not driven a Kuga with this engine we’re familiar with the 1.5-litre EcoBoost in the Focus, where it’s excellent – responsive, smooth, refined and powerful.

Diesel engines

You’ll find three diesel engines on offer – two standard and one with mild hybrid technology.

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
1.5L EcoBlue 120PS manual (auto) 120hp, 300Nm 11.2secs (11.0secs) 112mph (110mph)
2.0L EcoBlue mHEV 150PS 150hp, 370Nm 9.6secs 121mph
2.0L EcoBlue 190PS 190hp, 400Nm 8.7secs 129mph

Of these, it’s the entry-level model that’s the most efficient non-plug in in the Kuga’s range. It’s not bad to drive, either – not quick, but with enough grunt in the mid-range that it doesn’t feel particularly lacking in power. It can be had with either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic gearbox, though the latter is significantly less efficient.

The EcoBlue mild hybrid is probably the pick of the diesel range, though it’s only available with a manual gearbox. As this makes it almost identical to drive to a conventional diesel, we’ve included it here. If you want more pace, you can opt for the automatic-only 190hp model – which is also the only Kuga to come with four-wheel drive.

Hybrid engines

There are two proper hybrid options for the Kuga – a self-charging hybrid and a plug-in hybrid, badged FHEV and PHEV.

Engine Power
0-62mph time
Top speed
2.5L Full Hybrid 190PS 190hp 9.1secs 122mph
2.5L Plug-in Hybrid 225PS 225hp 9.2secs 125mph

It seems difficult to recommend the full hybrid model over one of the diesels. Its petrol engine means it’ll be a better option for those who remain almost exclusively within town, but it’s not particularly fast or efficient compared to the equivalent diesels.

The plug-in is a different matter. If you have a charger at home and your lifestyle supports a PHEV, this is an excellent option – expensive to buy, but with the potential for rock-bottom running costs. It’s fast and responsive thanks to the electrical assistance, though not as quick as some rivals like the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4.

How does it handle?

  • Will satisfy the majority of drivers
  • Not as sharp as older models, though
  • Sports suspension is on the firm side

Just as the Ford Focus remains one of the best-handling cars in the compact family car arena, so it is with the Mk3 Kuga in the family SUV market. But, as with the Focus, the competition has caught-up considerably.

For instance, while the Kuga’s steering is still communicative, giving the driver a decent amount of feedback about traction and road conditions, it’s not as sharp a signal as it was before, and the weighting is a touch light for enthusiastic drivers.

Still, all Kugas – unlike the Focus hatchback range – feature fully independent rear suspension. Don’t worry, we’re not about to get al technical. What you need to know is that it’s more sophisticated kind of suspension than that fitted on many rivals, enabling the Kuga to handle better and ride more comfortably. It’s less of a compromise than competitor set-ups. The way it corners at speed is particularly noteworthy.

However, that’s not the primary reason most customers choose a car of this type – for those, the experience will be steering that keeps them accurate and true both around sweeping bends and multi-storey car parks, while the fine body control means it will remain relatively level when cornering.

The distance between the pedals and the weight of the gearshift on manual versions is ideal – you’re unlikely to find your feet too close together with the former and the latter snicks between ratios with a satisfying action.

Just be cautious if you’re considering an ST-Line version because you like the sportier looks. It’s riding in Sports suspension, which means its firmer than the regular models. While poor surfaces won’t feel especially sharp thanks to the fine damping, they do remain very noticeable, which can become tiresome.