Ford Kuga (2013 – 2020) Review

Ford Kuga (2013 – 2020) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
Even though the facelift helped, the Kuga is looking a little tired, especially in the context of newer models. It remains the choice for keen drivers, but if you’re after more comfort and the latest technology, you should probably look elsewhere.

+Class-leading handling, practical and spacious interior, plenty of examples to choose from.

-Firmer ride than most rival, only the Vignale feels upmarket, pre-facelift version looks dated.

Insurance Groups are between 15–27
On average it achieves 77% of the official MPG figure

If you're looking for the newer version, you need our Ford Kuga review.

The Ford Kuga is one of the UK’s most popular family SUVs. It’s not hard to see why, because it’s as good to drive as a hatchback, as spacious as an estate car, and there’s a Ford dealer in most towns and cities. Launched in 2012, and facelifted in 2016, the Kuga takes on cars such as the Vauxhall Grandland X and Peugeot 3008, but few competitors can touch the Ford in terms of driver appeal. The ST-Line edition does a great impression of a hot hatchback, while the Vignale edges the Kuga into premium territory.

Launched in 2012, the Kuga enjoyed a long innings as Ford’s most popular family SUV, eventually bowing out when the all-new model arrived in 2020. Thanks to a facelift in 2016, the Kuga remained relevant in a fiercely competitive segment, rivalling the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage and Vauxhall Grandland X. It's now a great used SUV buy.

If we were looking for a unique selling point, we’d say it’s the way the Ford Kuga drives. It feels as sharp and precise as the Focus hatchback, making this the ideal SUV for drivers who enjoy a spirited run along a British B-road. The penalty for the sharp handling is a rather firm ride, with the Kuga lacking the cushion-soft suspension of some of its rivals.

Front- and four-wheel-drive variants are available, along with a choice of gearboxes. We’d favour the six-speed manual gearbox, primarily because it’s sweet-shifting, but also because the automatic transmission robs the engines of power and puts a dent in the fuel economy.

Speaking of engines, the Ecoboost petrol units should be avoided, as they’re not as efficient as the modern breed of small turbocharged engines.

Even the 2.0-litre TDCi diesel is a little lacking in the economy stakes, which makes the 1.5-litre TDCi the best option when buying a Kuga. It was added to the range as part of the 2016 facelift, which also saw a significant styling overhaul and a much-improved infotainment system.

Inside, the cabin is hard-wearing and robust, but you won’t find much in the way of soft-touch plastics and plush materials. We’d also argue that the dashboard is a little cluttered, although the Kuga makes up for it in terms of equipment.

Avoid the Zetec model, but other trim levels boast the kind of kit you’d expect from a family SUV. The Titanium models are the most popular, but the ST-Line trim offers cosmetic upgrades to match its lowered suspension.

There’s also a plush Vignale trim, which edges the Ford Kuga into premium territory. Smarter exterior styling combines with a more upmarket interior to give the Kuga a genuine luxury feel. Although it was too expensive when new, heavy depreciation means that it makes more sense on the used market.

Although prices start from £6,000, we’d up the budget to £11,000 to secure a facelifted model. Not only does the styling look more contemporary, you also have the option of the 1.5-litre diesel engine, not to mention the improved infotainment system. Pre-facelift versions have to make do with a system that seems woefully dated in 2020.

Boot space is excellent, making this one of the most practical cars in its class. There’s seating for five in the cabin, with the Kuga offering class-leading levels of headroom. No wonder it proved to be so successful for Ford.

Ask Honest John

Can you deactivate the car alarm on a Ford Kuga?

"My friend runs a Ford Kuga and wishes to know how can she disable her alarm when she leaves her dogs in the back of the car?"
You don't mention which version of the Ford Kuga your friend owns, but in the vehicle menu within the instrument display accessed through the steering wheel buttons there is a an option to deactivate the 'full guard' mode on the alarm system, which will deactivate the internal sensor. You will find more details on this in the vehicle's handbook.
Answered by David Ross

Can you recommend a reliable used SUV?

"I currently have a 2017 Ford Kuga 1.5 petrol with 44,000 miles and a full service history. I’m looking at changing it for something with the same higher up seating position and like the look of the Audi Q5. Are they worth the money and reliable? It would be a used car and I’ve got a budget of around £16,000. Is this worth it and what sort of age would I be looking at? If not, what other brands should I look at? "
Audi Q5s are generally considered reliable if well maintained, but when things do go wrong the parts and complexity of premium cars like this can add to the cost quite a bit. For your budget, depending on engine and spec, you'd be getting a 2012-2015 car. We'd also be checking out the BMW X3, while the Volvo XC60 is also a good buy.
Answered by Lawrence Allan

Can you recommend a replacement for a Kia Ceed?

"Our Kia Ceed has died after 13 years. We need a second hand replacement. We camp, roof box, bikes on back so need a bigger car. We cannot afford a lot. "
Have you considered a Kia Sportage? It's an SUV but not a big or inefficient one, so it'll be more practical and should feel familiar. A 2015-on Sportage will still have some warranty left. Other alternatives we rate include the Mazda CX-5, Volkswagen Tiguan/Skoda Karoq or Kodiaq, Honda CR-V and Ford Kuga. If you don't want an SUV, why not look at a newer Ceed Sportswagon, or a Skoda Octavia estate? Both will be much roomier than your Ceed and should be more economical than the SUVs.
Answered by Lawrence Allan

Ford Kuga engine replaced under warranty - why am I being charged for the oil and spark plugs?

"My 2018 1.5 EcoBoost petrol Ford Kuga has been with the dealer for four weeks waiting for a new engine to be fitted under warranty. I reported it was using coolant with no visible signs of a leak. They said first said no fault was found and this amount of coolant loss is normal for Kuga. The engine failed shortly after this claim. I have suggested that, once they fit the new engine, the dealer can do the third year service and MoT - as both are due. The dealer says Ford insist on a full service even if it is a new engine and they will change me for new oil, spark plugs etc. They have also said this is likely as sometimes the engine arrives with this stuff missing. Shouldn't the new engine have new spark plugs and fluid? Why am I being charged for this service? "
It's probably true that a new engine comes without spark plugs and fluids, but as the work is being carried out on warranty – it seems like they should be part of the deal. I would phone up a couple of other Ford dealers and see if they say the same thing. I'd also write a letter to the dealer service manager explaining why you're unhappy about this – i.e that it is the engine that has failed and that there's plenty of life left in the spark plugs and fluids – sometimes all it takes is a friendly letter to get the ball rolling. In the letter, I'd mention that you plan to take the matter to Ford UK if it can't be resolved by the dealer. Keep us informed of your progress.
Answered by Russell Campbell
More Questions

What does a Ford Kuga (2013 – 2020) cost?