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Ford Kuga: final report
Model: Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi 163 PS AWD Powershift
On fleet since: July 2011
Official combined mpg: 41.5 mpg
Our average economy: 33.0 mpg
Pros: Good looking, great to drive, well thought-out interior
Cons: Firm seats and suspension, economy sometimes indifferent, luggage space modest
What was great about it?
The colour. OK, stupid thing to start with, but as I mentioned in my very first report, Mars Red didn't turn out to be red at all, more of a burnt orange. Bright, yes. But you grow to like the fact that you rarely see another Kuga in the same colour. And it's easy to find in a car park.
Seriously, the Kuga turned out to be an excellent all-round tool, as at home in suburban areas (the excellent Powershift automatic transmission helped here) as on long trips.
But where the Kuga excelled like no other crossover was on fast cross-country roads, where the precise steering and lack of body roll allowed it to be hustled along like a hot hatch. The Kuga is the most entertaining of its class to drive, no question.
The computer is pretty much idiot-proof
The rest of the time the Ford was just easy to live with, combining good visibility with a jump-in-and-go personality.
For its last month I passed the Kuga over to my son Ian and his young family. His needs are entirely different and he currently drives a two-year-old Civic. Ian and his wife were effusive:
"Loved it, has definitely made me want to upgrade. Much easier with kids getting them in and out of the car, very comfy seats and great driving position - we both liked being higher off the road.
"The computer is pretty much idiot-proof, and the sat-nav was good. Going back, the Civic seems very small and pokey".
Certain aspects of the high specification of this Kuga were enjoyed by all, including the reversing camera. The performance of the uprated two-litre diesel is fast enough for pretty wheel every situation too.
What wasn't so great?
The sporty nature of the Kuga - and the large wheels on our car - resulted in stiff suspension and a ride that readily picked up the bumps. It's a pity Ford hadn't compensated with squishier seats, but no, they were firm too. I learned to live with it.
Ian points out that the Kuga's boot space isn't especially big. He needs to cram in all the paraphernalia associated with two young children and here the Ford disappoints. Rear seats in place the capacity is 360 litre. The Civic hatch is 477 litres, massively greater, though admittedly at the expense of a spare wheel.
Others do it with a rotating knob
Apart from a puncture there were no real issues over the 12 months. One of my iPods was reluctant to boot-up at times, but an older one was always fine. I never did get the bottom of that.
The touchscreen on the sat-nav and entertainment unit was generally OK, but I simply hated the need to go into the zoom menu on the screen whenever I wanted to change the size of the map.
Others do it with a rotating knob, which is a zillion times more convenient. And why lose the digital radio when you specify satnav?
Was it expensive to run?
I still suffer illusions that a vehicle like this might return 40mpg plus. The Kuga didn't, and neither do the equivalent Hyundai iX35, Kia Sportage or Range Rover Evoque.
I think a VW Tiguan might, but we had to contend here with mpg in the low thirties most of the time, though a steady run could add as much as 5mpg.
Insurance is group 21, which is more than some rivals but servicing costs at your Ford dealer will be affordable. Which? reckons the Kuga has average reliability.
Would I recommend it to you?
Certainly, though perhaps not at this £32,000 price point. A lower-powered front-wheel-drive Kuga will suit most people equally well, I reckon.
What am I driving next?
Staying with the crossover theme, I have already got into a Range Rover Evoque. If you think the £32k of the Kuga is expensive, well this similar sized Range Rover is £45,000. Can it be worth the extra?
Report 1: Ford Kuga arrival
Report 2: Ford Kuga month two
Report 3: Ford Kuga month three
Report 4: Ford Kuga month four
Report 5: Ford Kuga month five
Report 6: Ford Kuga month six
Report 7: Ford Kuga month seven
Report 8: Ford Kuga final report (this report)
Need to know
Performance: 0-62mph 9.6secs/119mph
Power/Torque: 163hp@3750rpm/251lb ft@2000rpm
Insurance group: 21/50
Options fitted: Powershift automatic transmission £1,550, Metallic paint £525, Titanium X Pack £2,100, Appearance Pack £275, Convenience Pack £775, Touchscreen navigation, Bluetooth, USB £1,300, Deflation detection £75, Towbar £500.
Price as tested: £32,045
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