THE Kuga, Ford's newest and smallest Sport Utility Vehicle, takes the fight to its competitors in a very densely packed market segment by dishing up a feature-packed difference in an all-round-solid package that takes many cues from more premium SUVs.
"The Kuga is aimed at the young professional and small families. But we've found that the factors that are important to those two groups are generally relevant to many older customers," Judith Denton, KIG marketing director, told Auto.
The Kuga may be the smallest in the Ford SUV line-up, and externally, it does look rather compact. However, once inside there's more than enough space for passengers and their luggage to travel in comfort. The lack of external bulk gives the vehicle a sporty look and makes it a breeze to drive.
Once you're settled into the six-way power adjustable driver's seat, the Kuga again will suit all your driving needs with its unusual for the segment 1.6-litre engine. Those used to large displacement motors in their SUVs shouldn't look away, as the Ford EcoBoost technology, essentially a turbocharger, holds its own. The smaller engine ensures excellent fuel economy, while providing smooth acceleration, plenty of torque for cruising, and outright speed when placed in sport mode.
The six-speed automatic transmission is near flawless in either regular driving or sport mode, never having to hunt for a gear or causing a break in power delivery. On rough surfaces, the Kuga somehow manages to maintain a smooth ride despite a firm on-road presence. Its intelligent All-Wheel-Drive system operates invisibly giving plenty of confidence, alongside a host of safety equipment, airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control that can handle towing, and rollover mitigation, to name a few. Further peace of mind can be had as the Kuga comes with Ford's Extended Service Plan offering preventative care and replacement of normal wear and tear items for three years.
Convenience technology is the Kuga's forte and it's loaded with features normally reserved for more premium vehicles. The first hints of this are the trays integrated into the front seats for the rear passenger, a very up-market feature. The trend-level trim Kuga comes equipped with voice command allowing access to various entertainment features. Move up to the titanium trim, and features like adjustable cruise control, leather seating,rain-sensing windshield wipers, and dual-zone climate control are all available. The party piece for the Kuga is the foot-activated power liftgate. Armed with the key, a simple sweep of foot under the rear bumper will cause the rear gate to open automatically.
-- Rory Daley