Costs & verdict
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The entry-level petrol-powered Kuga is very competitively priced against large SUV rivals, such as the Peugeot 5008 and Toyota RAV4, and the PHEV model also substantially undercuts other plug-ins, such as the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. The Kuga is also considerably cheaper than its rivals on a monthly PCP deal, too, in both petrol and electrified guises.
Under the latest company car tax rules, the rate payable for a hybrid vehicle is based on both its official CO2 emissions and the driving range that its batteries can provide. The Kuga PHEV secures a low 10% benefit-in-kind tax rate, thanks to its official electric range of 35 miles; the Outlander PHEV falls in the 12% tax bracket due to its shorter 28 mile electric range. Petrol and diesel Kugas – along with conventionally powered rivals – will be liable for rather steeper company car tax bills.
Charging the PHEV’s batteries takes three and a half hours when using a home wall-box charger, and six hours if you use a three-pin domestic plug. The official combined economy of 201.8mpg is not going to be achievable in the real world, certainly with longish stretches of A-road or motorways driving, but if you keep the battery topped up you will see some pretty impressive economy figures, especially on shorter journeys.
Equipment, options and extras
Zetec is the entry-level trim level. Even this provides a long list of equipment, including the infotainment system with wireless charging pad and front and rear parking sensors mentioned earlier. On top of those it comes with sports seats, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear lever, cruise control, automatic lights, 17in alloy wheels, privacy glass, power-folding door mirrors and a heated windscreen. This looks to be a good trim choice if you're looking to keep costs down.
Yet if you want the plug-in hybrid engine that we've tried, you’ll have to up to Titanium trim. This adds 18in alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, part-leather seats and automatic wipers. We'd suggest opting for that rather than the ST-Line trim, which is pricier but brings mainly sporty styling additions. ST-Line X adds 19in alloys, a panoramic roof and electric, heated front seats.
The top Vignale spec adds plenty from the Ford equipment list, including a head-up display, heated steering wheel, hands-free boot opening and automatic parking assistance. We think this ends up too pricey, though.
Ford achieved a mid-table finish in the 2019 What Car? Reliability Survey, finishing 14th out of 31 manufacturers. The Kuga is too new to feature individually in our survey, but the Ford Focus, on which it's based, didn’t score too well for resisting breakdowns and mechanical troubles in the family car class .
At least a three-year or 60,000 miles warranty is included as standard, while the batteries of plug-in hybrid models get a separate eight-year, 100,000 mile warranty.
Safety and security
The Kuga is well provisioned with safety kit and driver aids; lane-keeping assistance and hill start assistance are standard, as is automatic emergency braking (AEB), which helps to stop the car automatically if it senses an imminent crash. That's a safety system that we consider vital. Blind spot recognition and adaptive cruise control can be added as part of the Driver’s Assistance Pack.
Euro NCAP gave the Kuga five out of five stars after safety testing in 2019. It scored well for adult protection and child occupant safety. The rival Toyota RAV4 was also tested in 2019 and, while it received five stars as well, it did a better job in such areas as adult chest protection, child head protection and pedestrian protection.
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