Ford Kuga Titanium 2012 Review

Ford Kuga Titanium 2012 Review

It’s about time we got the Kuga, but I didn’t used to think that. To be honest, I was wondering whether we need yet another compact SUV. Now I’m certain we do. The Ford Kuga entered into my world last week, put a smile on my face within 30 seconds and now I want one.

It’s not something I say often about the cars we get to drive. A car is a personal decision and of all the cars I’ve driven (many hundreds) there are probably only 15-20 that I would consider based on performance/value/gut feeling. Notable examples include the Lotus Elise, the Audi S5 and FPV’s F6. They are cars which also made me smile, and the fun derived from the dollars spent comes in great surpluses.

Why is the Kuga favourable to me, then, given that I don’t need all five leather-clad seats (the front two of which have 5-stage heating), I only drive 3km to work on 50kph roads and with my child-free life I rarely need to carry anything more than some light shopping? It’s because Ford has captured some of the visceral essence of the fun of driving in a car that screams practicality.

Take the

engine note: you’ve got a 2.5-litre 5-cylinder turbo that kicks out 147kW at 6000rpm and 320Nm between 1600-4000rpm, and as this spools up into the sweet zone it’s joined by the 5-speed transmission in a two-part harmony that both purrs and growls at the same time.

A car this tall is never going to handle like a sports car, but despite sitting on some stunning 19-inch wheels wrapped in 235/45 tyres it’s neither crashy nor wallowy. The front suspension is independent with MacPherson struts and anti-roll bar; the rear is an independent control blade setup with multilink system and anti-roll bar. It seems capable through faster corners while not rattling your bones over bumpy city streets. The steering is positive and the brakes and accelerator feel solid.

Other inside features include dual climate control, cruise control, a stereo that not ultra amazing, but definitely isn’t harsh, and plenty of leather trim. The stereo will take an iPod or MP3 player, there’s Bluetooth phone compatibility, and a trip computer.

Safety includes plenty of airbags (driver and passenger front, side thorax front and pelvis, and side curtain front and rear), plus all the electronics you need to stop the wheels locking or spinning, and to get you going straight again if there’s sideway action. An alarm and immobilizer is included, too.

Tricks include the split rear tailgate which is convenient if the boot is heavily loaded. There are two flip-up trays for the rear passengers, and roof rails come as standard, too.

But don’t for one minute think that because I like the Kuga that it’s not flawed. I mean, only five gears in this day and age seems like not enough when some auto ‘boxes come with eight. Perhaps a sixth gear would improve open road fuel economy. And when it comes to fuel economy you’ve got to put 7 more octanes in it than on lesser powered cars – yes, it prefers 98. This results in a combined fuel economy of 10.3l/100km, and someone like me who enjoys that bit of extra power is never going to keep it that low.

However, I like it better than VW’s Tiguan, Skoda’s Yeti, the Territory that sits above it in the range, Audi’s Q5 and definitely more than the cheaper offerings like the Holden Captiva and Mitsubishi ASX.

You can only get the Kuga in one trim in NZ, and that’s the Titanium. The UK has many different models, including a diesel. Unfortunately I think that’s going to put a few people off. People looking for the ultimate in frugality may dismiss the Kuga before they experience it, despite the fact that the difference in fuel economy may only mean a few hundred dollars a year.

Ford now makes two cars that I would happily sit in my garage: FPV’s F6, and the Kuga. If you are in the market for a compact SUV the Kuga is worth a look.


  • Power
  • Looks
  • Versatility
  • Ride


  • Would like front parking sensors for the price
  • You’ll pay at the pump for the extra grunt

Price: $53,990

Other cars worth checking out (reviews open in a new window)

VW Tiguan

Audi Q5

Holden Captiva

Mitsubishi Outlander

Toyota RAV4 diesel

Honda CR-V

Hyundai iX35 diesel

Mitsubishi ASX

Fuel Economy
Combined fuel economy (L/100km) 1 10.3
Ford Easyfuel® capless refuelling S
Fuel 2 95 – 98 RON
Fuel – BioFuel compatibility E10
Fuel tank capacity (L) 66
Emissions Data
CO2 emissions (g/km) 3 244
Euro Stage V compliant S
Airbags – Driver & front passenger S
Airbags – Side thorax front & pelvis S
Airbags – Side curtain front & rear S
Brakes – Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) S
Brakes – Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) S
Brakes – Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) S
Brakes – Emergency (hazard warning) brake lights S
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with Roll Over Mitigation S
Intelligent Safety System (ISS) S
Reverse sensing system S
Safety rating – Euro NCAP 5 Star
Seats – ISOFIX child seat attachments 4 S
Seatbelts – Beltminder™ system (Driver & front passenger) S
Seatbelts – Pre-tensioners front S
Traction Control System (TCS) S
Immobiliser – Passive Anti-theft System (PATS) S
Locking – Central including liftgate & rear glass S
Locking – Childproof rear S
Locking – Rear tailgate remote release S
Locking – Remote power central/double S
2.5L Duratec Turbo Petrol S
Intelligent all-wheel drive system – Haldex 4 S
Cylinders 5
Displacement (cc) 2,522
Power – maximum (DIN) 147kW @ 6,000rpm
Torque – maximum (DIN) 320Nm @ 1,600-4,000rpm
5-speed automatic S
Towing Capacity – Maximum (kg)
Braked 5 1,500
Unbraked 6 750
Front – Independent with MacPherson struts & anti-roll bar S
Rear – Independent Control Blade with multi-link system & anti-roll bar S
Electric Hydraulic Power-Assisted Steering S
Turning circle (kerb to kerb) 11.5
Wheels & Tyres
Wheel size 19″
Wheel type Alloy (x4)
Tyre size P235/45 R19
Spare wheel Mini
Exterior Styling
Privacy glass – Rear passengers & back windows S
Spoiler – Rear S
Brakes – Rear high mounted stop light S
Fog lights S
Headlights – Automatic S
Headlights – Follow-me-home S
Mirrors – Power with side indicators, puddle lamps & heated S
Mirrors – Auto-dimming rear view mirror S
Wipers – Front variable intermittent S
Wipers – Rain sensing S
Wipers – Rear fixed intermittent wash/wipe S
Stowage & Carrying
Roof rack rails S
Split rear tailgate S
Comfort & Convenience
Cruise control – Steering wheel mounted S
Dual zone climate control S
Power – 12V socket in rear S
Power – 12V in boot S
Power – 12V in front console S
Steering column – Adjustable reach & rake S
Sunvisor – Driver & passenger with illuminated vanity mirror S
Windows – Power front & rear S
Cargo cover S
Centre console – Cup holder S
Overhead console with sunglass holder S
Map pockets – Driver & front passenger S
Rear seats – Centre armrest cup holders x2 S
Seats & Seatbelts
Front seats – Heated S
Front seat back mounted flip-up tray S
Head restraints – Height adjustable S
Lumbar adjust – Manual driver & front passenger S
Rear – 60:40 split fold S
Seat adjust – Manual 4-way passenger S
Seat adjust – Power 6-way driver S
Interior Styling
Gear shift – Leather S
Mats – Carpet front & rear S
Steering wheel – Leather S
Trim – Leather S
Audio, Communications & Instruments
Audio – 3.5mm auxiliary input S
Audio – iPod integration 7 S
Audio – Premium Sony system single slot CD with 8 speakers S
Audio – Steering wheel mounted controls S
Audio – USB auxiliary input S
Bluetooth® mobile phone integration with voice control 8 S
Ford Power Start button S
Trip computer S
Exterior Dimensions (mm)
Height – Overall (inc roof rails) 1,710
Kerb Weight (kg) 1,653
Length – Overall 4,443
Track – Front 1,574 – 1,580
Track – Rear 1,584 – 1,590
Wheelbase 2,690
Width – Overall (with / without mirrors) 2,128 / 1,842
Interior Dimensions (mm)
Front – Head room 1,008
Front – Leg room 1,057
Rear – Head room 987
Rear – Leg room 950
Luggage Capacity (L)
With mini spare tyre – Seats upright 360
With mini spare tyre – Seats folded 1,355
Vehicle Masses (kg)
Gross combination mass (GCM) 3,630
Gross vehicle mass (GVM) 2,130

S – Standard.

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham


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