Ford Kuga (2013 – 2020) Review

Ford Kuga (2013 – 2020) At A Glance

4/5
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

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.

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

Ask Honest John

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
How will I know if my car's DPF is blocked?
"If the DPF is blocked in my Ford Kuga, how will I know? What is the cheapest way to deal with the situation?"
A blocked DPF will usually illuminate a warning light on the dashboard. Fuel economy will also drop and there will be a lot of black smoke from the exahust. You may also have trouble starting the car (or the idling will be rough). It may be possible to clean the DPF. Otherwise, you will need to replace the entire system.
Answered by Dan Powell
How far do I need to drive my car to charge its battery?
"My husband has a 2017 Ford Kuga automatic with i-stop but won't be able to drive it for 6 months. How far do I need to drive it to charge its battery? Which battery charger/conditioner would you recommend?"
It varies depending on how much charge is in your battery before you start driving and your driving style. On the motorway, it'll take 25-30 minutes to charge the battery. In a town or city, you'll need to double that timeframe. It would make more sense, if you can, to connect a battery conditioner - but this will require mains charging so you'd need a garage with power, or to connect it in the house through a window (with an extension cable) every now and then. The Kuga you mention has start-stop (i-stop), so I'd recommend this charger: https://amzn.to/3pDDuhB If you don't have an Amazon account, I believe it's also available at Halfords.
Answered by Georgia Petrie
We do 10,000 miles per year. Can you recommend a suitable 4WD SUV?
"My wife and I have a 2015 Ford Kuga, which we are looking to replace it in the not too distant future. We enjoy the ride height and the practicalities of four wheel drive and we do not want an electric car or a plug-in hybrid. At the moment, we've been used to a manual gearbox but are aware that auto boxes are more prevalent. We don't cover as many miles as we used to, probably about 10,000 miles a year, if that. Does this negate the use of a diesel?"
A modern diesel needs at least 15-miles (per journey) to keep the DPF healthy. If your driving does not accommodate for this, I would recommend a petrol. Perhaps something like the Mazda CX-30: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/mazda/cx-30-2020
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions

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