Review: Ford Kuga (2008 – 2013)

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Best handling crossover apart from Mazda CX-7. Comes with useful split tailgate. Economical 2.0 TDCI engine. Two-wheel drive version available which emits just 156g/km.

Rear seats not as versatile as other SUVs this size. Quite pricey new. PowerShift diesel automatics emit 179g/km.

Ford Kuga (2008 – 2013): At A Glance

Ford was a bit slack when it came to launching a small SUV - or 'crossover' as they've now become know. While the Nissan Qashqai and Volkswagen Tiguan were making waves, Ford was nowhere to be seen. Maybe the brand didn't want to rush into developing a compact 4x4 that could end as unpopular as the terrible 'when did you last see one on the road' Vauxhall Antara.

So Ford took its time. And while it may not have been first to the party, the Kuga is one of the best compact SUVs on the market. Like its rivals, the Kuga is design mainly for on-road use rather than tackling muddy slopes so it’s no surprise to see an athletic rather than chunky approach to the styling. With its trademark grille and swept-back lights the Kuga is a great example of Ford's 'Kinetic' design. It's certainly one of the best looking crossovers on the market.

It looks like a premium car and it's the same story inside. When it launched the Mondeo in 2007, Ford radically upped its game in terms of interior quality and it’s continued in the same vein with the Kuga. The layout is simple but stylish and despite lots of black trim, it isn’t gloom although the lack of rear seat versatility means it's not as practical as other crossovers. Although the split tailgate is a very useful touch.

But the Kuga is really head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to handling. Using the same platform as the Focus, it strikes a good balance between handling and comfort with good agility in corners and a forgiving ride. The engine line-up is simple with a 2.0-litre diesel that comes in two power outputs (the lower powered version available with 2WD) and a 2.5T petrol which is great fun but very thirsty.

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Register your interest for later or request to be contacted by a dealer to talk through your options now.

What does a Ford Kuga (2008 – 2013) cost?

List Price from £24,250
Buy new from £20,231
Contract hire from £193.44 per month

Ford Kuga (2008 – 2013): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4443 mm
Width 1842 mm
Height 1710 mm
Wheelbase 2690 mm

Full specifications

There's a real quality feel inside the Kuga and it has a very easy to live with interior. The silver plastic trim around the centre console and stereo (and sat nav if fitted) does seem a little out of place and not in keeping with the 'premium' feel, but things like the door handles and gear lever all have a nice weight to them.

Standard on all models, the engine start/stop button, dubbed the ‘Power Button’ by Ford is an upmarket touch. But the positioning between the two main air vents a little odd and it’s not instantly obvious that it’s the main ignition switch.

The driving position in the Kuga is spot on and all round visibility is good too, although the thick C-pillars make parking a little tricky. In the back it feels very similar to a Focus, but lacks the roominess of something like a Volkswagen Tiguan despite having a wheelbase that’s 86mm longer. 

Folding down the rear seats isn’t as straightforward as in the Volkswagen either. You have to flip the bases up first and unlike its rival they don’t slide forward or back. The boot offers good space though with 410 litres and there’s extra storage under the boot floor too. It's worth specifying the optional £50 tyre deflation system because that gives you the choice of switching to runflat tyres when the first set wear out. You can then do away with the space-saver spare and free up a lot of additional loadspace under the rear load floor.

The passenger space in the Ford is slightly disappointing and no better than a Focus hatchback. Legroom is adequate and it feels spacious enough, but it can’t match may rivals in this class such as the Honda CR-V. There are no rear door pockets either. However, the split hatch means you don’t have to open the whole tailgate in order to access the boot. It’s ideal if you only have a few shopping bags to put in, or if you’re in a low multi-storey car park. The boot also has a self-retracting load cover.

There are just two trims: Zetec and Titanium, with plus packs to add more leather, or two different types of satnav and other goodies that can jack the price up from £20,500 to around £27,500.

Standard equipment from launch:

Zetec features include keyless start, 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Ford Easy fuel, Thatcham category 1 alarm and MP3 connector.

Titanium adds rain sensing wipers, blue tinted glass, part leather trim, cruise control, automatic headlights and dual electronic air temperature control. Additional premium options available include, rear facing camera, panoramic roof, USB connectivity and DAB radio.

Child seats that fit a Ford Kuga (2008 – 2013)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Ford Kuga (2008 – 2013) like to drive?

Nearly every Kuga on the road is a diesel - a Dagenham built 2.0 TDCI Duratorq which Ford now makes for Peugeot, Citroen and Volvo. It's a real gem of an engine and one we rate very highly, so it's no surprise it's equally as impressive in the Kuga with good response and a smooth nature.

It's quiet enough on start-up and thanks to good sound insulation, very quiet when you're on the move. There are actually two versions of this engine - the standard one with 140bhp and a more powerful 163bhp model. Both have plenty of torque meaning strong in-gear acceleration with the top 163bhp model delivery 320Nm at 2000rpm, pulling well from low revs.

It's sprightly too and will accelerate from 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds while claimed economy is 47.1mpg. Average consumption of four Kugas tested by different drivers varied from 33.5mpg to 45.8mpg, compared to the claimed urban and combined figures of 34.9 and 44.1mpg. Ford's new PowerShift twin-clutch automatic gearbox is available too and offers really quick changes although opting for it on the top diesel sees CO2 emissions rise from 159g/km to 179g/km moving it up to VED bands from G to I.

If it's efficiency you're after then go for the 2WD model that comes with the 2.0 TDCI 140bhp engine (a 4x4 with this engine is also available). You won't notice the difference in it only being two-wheel drive if you only every drive on tarmac (apart from in the snow and ice) but you'll notice at the pumps as it can average a claimed 47.9mpg while CO2 is 156g/km.

Of course the Kuga isn't really designed to go off road. This is an urban warrior SUV, not a country cousin and 95% of the people who buy it will never venture further off road than parking on the grass at a car boot sale. Driving it, you're almost unaware you're in an SUV, apart from being able to see over some hedges. There's almost none of that heavy roll understeer that weights up the steering. Obviously it's not quite as crisp as a Focus, but it's an SUV you could comfortably drive quite quickly every day without getting irritated by its handling quirks.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
2.0 TDCi 44–47 mpg 9.6–10.7 s 159–169 g/km
2.0 TDCi 163 47 mpg 9.6 s 159 g/km
2.0 TDCi 163 PowerShift 42 mpg 9.9 s 179 g/km
2.0 TDCi 2WD 46–48 mpg 10.2–10.6 s 154–159 g/km
2.0 TDCi PowerShift 42 mpg 9.9–10.7 s 179 g/km
2.5T 29 mpg 8.2 s 234 g/km
2.5T Automatic 27 mpg 8.8 s 244 g/km

Real MPG average for a Ford Kuga (2008 – 2013)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

18–50 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Ford Kuga (2008 – 2013)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Where is the coolant temperature sensor in a 2009 Ford Kuga?

Do you know where the coolant temperature sensor is on a 2009 Ford Kuga 2.0d? The radiator cooling fan is not coming on.
Follow the wiring back from the fan to the engine block where the temperature sensor/sender will be screwed into the water jacket. You'll probably need a bigger socket than most people possess to remove it, though. (Obviously, first make sure that the problem is not simply that a wire has snapped.)
Answered by Honest John
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What Cars Are Similar To The Ford Kuga (2008 – 2013)?

Key attributes of the this model are: Crossover and SUV.

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What do owners think?

Our view gives your our opinion, based on driving hundreds of cars every year, but you can't beat the views of someone who lives with a car day-in, day out.

  • 5 star 83%
  • 4 star 17%
  • 3 star
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  • 1 star

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