Ford Kuga Titanium diesel and Kuga Titanium EcoBoost Petrol 2013 – Review

Ford Kuga Titanium diesel and Kuga Titanium EcoBoost Petrol 2013 – Review

This is quite possibly the most complex and fully-featured car for the money. As well as having bells and whistles, there’s the full ensemble of wind instruments and a strings section, and you, the driver, are the conductor.

The problem with complex cars, though, is that they must be simple to use otherwise you’ll still be finding new features months or years after you first bought it. That’s if you find them at all.

ford-kuga-titanium-diesel-2013-rqNo one likes reading an instruction manual, but the Kuga’s use interface is sufficiently baffling, and its dashboard buttons sufficiently numerous and poorly laid out that I struggled. That’s because I hate reading instruction manuals. If this was a computer game, it would be like being dropped into a level 8 boss fight before knowing how to jump and punch.

ford-kuga-titanium-diesel-2013-sFortunately, though, the Kuga is an excellent car even if you can’t be bothered to find out 100% of its features, which are so numerous I will probably only tell you about half of them…I haven’t decided which half yet.

IMG_0502Let’s start with the lane departure warning system and the fact that it will park itself after it has scanned a line of cars for a space suitable. Not even the $300,000 Lexus LS600hL that I occupied for a week has that. Now, the parking system isn’t without its faults. I used it four times (three in the diesel and one in the petrol). In the petrol it failed miserably because the space was too small. That was the only one in daylight. The other three times were at night (and twice in the rain), and it worked perfectly.

ford-kuga-titanium-diesel-2013-rear-tableModern cars, and the Kuga is no exception, are now designed with swoopy lines and thick pillars. You can’t judge where the corners are like you could on and old Cortina, therefore systems that help you like this (even though they dumb down your driving skill) actually do have a positive purpose.

Modern cars are also designed with a multitude of electronic safety aids such as parking sensors, anti-lock brakes, traction control and electronics that stop you from spinning out of control. The Kuga has all these. Plus, it has adaptive cruise control, it warns you if it thinks there’s a danger of a collision, it monitors your eyes for driver drowsiness detection, and warns you if there’s a car in your blind spot. It will even apply the brakes for you if you are travelling at less than 30kph and it thinks you will run into something.

ford-kuga-titanium-diesel-2013-sat-navI drove two versions of the Kuga: the Titanium EcoBoost petrol (134kW 1.6-litre turbo) and the Titanium diesel (120kW 2-litre turbodiesel). The diesel has the edge because it has 300kg more towing capacity (1800kg), the petrol engine is noisy, and petrol just reached $2.47 per litre yesterday, which has caused a lot of machinations in the popular news. The respective fuel economies are 7.7l/100km and 6.2l/100km.

Both vehicles ride on 19-inch alloys wrapped in 235/45R19 tyres. All-wheel drive makes it impossible to break traction with the Kuga’s slightly anaemic engine. In fact, apart from the fiddly switches and operating system, the amount of power is the only other thing I would change. The rest of the Kuga is actually quite astounding. It handles like a car, but it’s an SUV; it has features that a $300,000 Lexus doesn’t have (OK, it doesn’t have vibrating, massaging, heated back seats); it has a name that causes mirth amongst (some of) my peers.

Both vehicles come with a powered tailgate, panoramic powered sunroof, dual zone climate control, Bluetooth phone integration, satellite navigation and heated wing mirrors. Passenger comfort is excellent with 5-stage heated and electrically adjustable seats in the front, plus fold out trays and plenty of legroom for two rear passengers.

Could I take a Kuga home every day? Yes. It has very hot heated seats. I like hot seats in winter. It looks like a Fiesta that has been given more steroids than Lance Armstrong, but still has both its testicles. I like the Fiesta. It also takes a strong fight to the Mazda CX-5 which (in Limited trim) is arguably a very slightly better drive because of its engine, but not by much and the Mazda is $1500 more expensive and comes with less features.

So, the verdict is that the Kuga is a damn fine car. Snigger at the name if you will, but I would be laughing all the way down the road with my toasty behind and ability to parallel park perfectly in the dark.

Price: $54,990 (Titanium Diesel); $52,990 (Titanium Ecoboost Petrol)

Pros

  • A great car with an enormous amount of features for the money

Cons

  • Poor dashboard and user interface design
  • Engine is lacking at open road overtaking speeds

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

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