Ford Kuga Review 2024

Written by Andy Brady

heycar ratingPractical family SUV moves upmarket
  • 2020
  • SUV
  • Petrol, Diesel, PHEV

Quick overview


  • Bigger and more spacious than the old Kuga
  • Lots of standard equipment
  • Choice of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines


  • Not available as a seven-seater
  • Infotainment system seems dated
  • Petrol engine feels underpowered

Overall verdict on the Ford Kuga

"Whichever Ford Kuga you opt for, it’s a strong contender in the increasingly competitive SUV sector. It also represents decent value for money, because you get plenty of cat for your cash."

Ford Kuga Review 2024: PHEV ST Line

The 2024 Ford Kuga is the Blue Oval's take on the family SUV. This third-generation car is a big step up from the car it replaced in 2020, with this latest version more than up to the job of taking on established rivals like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5. Let's take a closer look in our 2024 Ford Kuga review. 

When the latest Ford Kuga was first launched, there was a pretty broad choice of engines on offer, including a couple of diesel engines. Ford later streamlined the engine range of the Kuga, removing the diesel-powered engines and some of the petrols. This leaves a petrol, a self-charging hybrid and a plug-in hybrid version to choose from. Don't expect to see an electric Ford Kuga, with Ford offering the EV-only Mustang Mach-e for those looking for an electric SUV

While Ford has a reputation for making cars that are great to drive, the previous Kuga was a bit sloppy. Fortunately, the latest model is back on form, with handling sharp enough to take on the Mazda CX-5. Due to the weight of its batteries, the PHEV model does lose some of this agility, but it's still sharp by PHEV standards, and the Ford Kuga is an easy car to drive around town, helped by its high seating position and front and rear parking sensors, which are standard across the range.

A downside of the sharp handling is the slightly firm ride quality, especially on models with bigger alloy wheels fitted, or the Kuga ST-Line trim with its sports suspension. It’s not uncomfortably harsh, but it’s not as compliant as the soft Citroen C5 Aircross.

No matter which Ford Kuga model you buy, it will be pretty comprehensively equipped as standard. The kit list on even the most affordable Zetec trim offered at launch feels far from meagre, with 17-inch alloy wheels, Ford’s incredibly useful Quickclear heated windscreen and the 8-inch SYNC3 navigation system (although do bear in mind that the trim levels available, and the amount of kit supplied with each, were tinkered with on a reasonably regular basis throughout the car's time on sale).

The Titanium adds things like bigger 18-inch wheels, full LED headlights and sport seats finished in part-leather. There’s a sharp B&O sound system, too, as well as ambient interior lighting.

Further up the range, you can take the posh or sporty route. The Kuga in Vignale trim level is full Victoria Beckham spec, with lots of exterior enhancement (chrome trim) and premium leather in the interior, as well as a techy 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

The sporty Kuga ST-Line model comes with Mel C exterior styling (including a rear spoiler and red brake calipers…), while the inside gets a flat-bottomed steering wheel and part-leather sports seats. Upgrade to the Kuga ST-Line X for 19-inch wheels, an electric tailgate and a panoramic sunroof.

Looking for a used car for sale? We've got 100s of Ford Approved Used Cars for Sale for you to choose from, including a wide range of Ford Kugas for sale. If you're looking for the previous version, you need our Ford Kuga (2013-2020) review.

The new Ford Kuga ticks a lot of boxes for a lot of people. Whether you’re a high-mileage business person, a school-runner, or a weekend outdoors warrior, the Ford Kuga makes a lot of sense. Our biggest gripe is the lack of a seven-seat version.

As well as the likes of the ever-popular Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5, there are a number of other rivals out there to the Ford Kuga if you're looking at a family SUV. 

There's the very capable Hyundai Tucson, while those looking for a seven-seater should check out either the Skoda Kodiaq and Peugeot 5008. If you're looking for something a bit more premium, then we reckon the BMW X1 or Volvo XC40 could be right up your street. 

Comfort and design: Ford Kuga interior

"Ford always seems able to make its cars feel familiar, and the Kuga is no different. On the inside, it’s very similar to the latest Ford Focus."

Ford Kuga Review 2024: PHEV ST Line interior

In most versions of the Ford Kuga, you'll find an 8-inch SYNC 3 media system. While the touchscreen takes pride of place on the centre console, Ford has played to its strengths and made sure the most-used functions get physical buttons. That means all the heating and cooling controls are readily available without having to dive through menus and sub-menus. And there’s also a host of knobs on the steering wheel to handle the music, cruise control, and various dashboard menu options. Compared to some systems that rely heavily on the touchscreen display to access any kind of setting, it's refreshing to have this easy to use and straightforward approach with the Kuga. 

But while the 8-inch system is standard, drivers will have to go for the Kuga ST-Line or above models if they want the 12-inch digital dashboard as well (rather than old school analogue dials). The digital dash's graphics are crisp and all the important information is there, such as speed, but there’s also a decent level of customisation available and the digital dash changes depending on what driving mode you’ve selected. Select Eco and the colour theme changes to green and displays info about brake energy regeneration, while Sport is black and red with an emphasis on revs and speed. 

In 2024, Ford gave the Kuga an extensive facelift, during which the SYNC 3 infotainment system was swapped for Ford's latest 13.2-inch SYNC 4 display, also found in the Ford Focus. It looks a lot swisher and works pretty well, but it also resulted in the removal of many of the other dashboard controls, these now being operated through the touchscreen.

The Ford Kuga's seating position doesn’t seem to favour taller drivers, and while those over six-foot will still have some headroom, they might not be able to get the seat as low as they’d like. This reduces the Kuga’s ‘sporty’ feel, and also means the sun visor cuts your view of the road ahead in half. Still, at least the seats are supportive...

That higher seating position also sets it apart from more hatchback-like SUVs like the Nissan Qashqai and SEAT Ateca. In petrol and diesel models, there’s plenty of head- and legroom for rear passengers but the location of the battery pack in the Kuga hybrid version means it can feel cramped for adults sitting in the rear - almost like you’re perching on a stool.

Fit and finish are okay - ish - but the Kuga still lags behind some of its rivals in the sector. The material on the top of the dash isn’t quite on the same plush level as, say, a Peugeot 3008, while you don’t have to look too far to find cheaper plastics in use. Plus, there’s the usual excuse for a carpet in the boot that makes it impossible to vacuum.

You could always go for the top-spec Kuga Vignale, which adds leather seats and a leather layer on the dash. Even then, we don't think premium rivals like the Volvo XC40 or Audi Q5 will be too worried.

For a long time, arguably too long, the Kuga made do with Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system, which felt a bit behind the times. The screen was comparatively small and it used graphics that belonged on a Windows XP tower circa 2001. That said, it is extremely logical to use and will likely to be well received by drivers who prefer their old-school Nokia handset to the latest iPhone. Speaking of which, you do get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard so you don’t have to use the Ford system at all. Which is exactly what most drivers will do.

There's also an app. Technically, it allows you to start some models remotely to warm the car before you get in. But the truth is the app is so slow that by the time you’re getting in it still won’t have switched the heating on for you. It's not alone, of course – so many manufacturers make terrible apps but it does beg the question: why bother?

It wasn't until the 2024 facelift that Ford updated the Kuga's infotainment to the SYNC 4 system. The screen is huge in comparison to the earlier effort and the graphics look much swisher and slicker. However, you could accuse the Kuga of becoming too over-reliant on the screen, because many of the dashboard controls were removed, replaced by on-screen icons and menus.

The Ford Kuga measures just over 4.6m long and 1.8m wide, while all trim levels of the Ford Kuga get a sliding rear bench, which lets you put the most space where you need it - in the boot, or to free up more room for your backseat passengers' knees. 

If you regularly lug things about, you might find yourself putting boot space first. That’s because it’s not the biggest load space - the boot space of the Ford Kuga is just 411 litres with the rear seats back, but this grows to 526 litres with the bench forward. There’s some storage under the boot floor, which is where you can put the space-saving spare or the charging cables for the Kuga PHEV. The boot is easily accessible, but the rear seats don’t fold completely flat, which means there's less space for taller items.

On petrol and diesel models, there’s space for three adults in the back, but the person in the middle row won’t be particularly comfortable as they have to straddle the transmission tunnel. If you need to carry more than five people, you’ll have to look elsewhere as Ford doesn’t offer a seven-seat version of the Kuga. That seems an oversight when you can buy seven-seat Kodiaq, 5008 and Santa Fe models.

Handling and ride quality: What is the Ford Kuga like to drive?

"To some degree, the Kuga doesn’t feel as sporty as, say, a Focus or a Fiesta because… well, because you can’t defy the laws of physics. The Kuga is a big, tall car so you’ll notice plenty of lean and body roll if you decide to get a wriggle on."

Ford Kuga Review 2024: PHEV ST Line

That said, the Kuga does retain that Ford handling DNA, which means it feels very responsive, fairly surefooted and mostly predictable, although there are times when the self-centring action of the steering can cause a few issues. But for an SUV this size, perhaps that’s all you can ask for. This is a car designed to carry things - not shave seconds off your lap times. You'll need a PS5 for that.


Overall ride quality is good (after an initial adjustment phase where you have to get used to its slightly firm edge). It feels supple around pot-hole marked ring roads and smooth on the motorway. The Ford Kuga can get a little bouncy if you find yourself on an undulating road at speed, though. 

The brakes on most models are smooth and progressive - but the Ford Kuga PHEV is more of a struggle to drive smoothly. The regenerative braking system means the pedal feels overly heavy, making you think that you’re braking harder than you are and leading to few tense moments when the final phase of braking doesn't produce the stopping force you expect it to. 

Ford's cut down the range of engines since launch, leaving just three choices. A petrol, full-hybrid and plug-in hybrid, though what engines are available depends on the trim level you opt for. 

Missing from that list are the diesel options, which have recently been dropped from the range. If you're looking to buy used and cover a lot of miles, though you've got a few diesel Ford Kuga options. There’s a 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel with 120PS and offered with a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox. And a 2.0-litre mild-hybrid diesel, which produces 150PS and comes with a manual gearbox and front-wheel drive.

The most potent diesel available on the Ford Kuga is the 190PS 2.0-litre, which was sold exclusively with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel-drive. It’s likely to be the Kuga of choice for caravanners or anyone who wishes to venture off the beaten track.

Otherwise, there's a 1.5-litre petrol EcoBoost engine is available with a six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive. This was offered with 120PS in the entry-level Zetec trim Ford Kuga, but now you'll only find the 150PS version available across the range, and it's a better option. 

There's a full-hybrid version that's based around a 2.5-litre petrol Duratec engine with 190PS, but it's the plug-in hybrid option that'll probably spike the most interest. It combines a 2.5-litre petrol Duratec engine with an electric motor to produce a combined 225PS (later uprated to 243PS). 

But with front-wheel-drive only and an unresponsive CVT automatic gearbox, it’s not as much fun as it should be. On the plus side, though, it delivers an electric-only range of around 40 miles, perfect for short journeys and commutes. However, just like any other plug-in hybrid, if you fail to charge it regularly you'll be penalised by having to lug a heavy battery pack around with you that reduces fuel economy massively.

Most drivers will be happy with the standard suspension set up of the Ford Kuga, but the ST-Line models get a lower ride height and firmer springs, making them feel a touch more sporty and/or fidgety.

Bear in mind, too, that this will increase the amount of road noise you experience. While the poshed-up Vignale gets an active noise cancelling system (which neutralises unwanted noise using the car's speakers), most drivers will take some time to get used to the tyre roar and suspension rattle. 

Opt for the PHEV version of the Ford Kuga and you'll be running about in near-silence under electric power, while the transition to petrol power is pretty seamless once the battery has been depleted. 

Like a lot of its competitors, the Ford Kuga scored five stars out of five for safety when tested by Euro NCAP. Drilling down on the numbers a little more, it scored 92% for adult occupants, 86% for child occupants, 82% for pedestrian safety and 73% for safety assist. 


The Ford Kuga comes with 10 airbags dotted round the cabin and a number of standard safety features. This includes lane-keeping assistance and automatic emergency braking, which will apply the stoppers automatically if the car senses an impending crash. 

All Ford Kugas come with front- and rear parking sensors, but if you want things like the reversing camera and blind-spot monitoring, which are almost essential in this car as visibility is limited by the small rear window and thick A-pillars, you’ll have to shell out for the Driver’s Assistance Pack. That will also get you adaptive cruise control and traffic-sign recognition.

With a 14.4kWh battery, the Ford Kuga PHEV can 'officially' cover 41 miles when fully charged and offer 201.8mpg… provided you can charge it regularly enough that you don't need to trouble the petrol engine. If you're doing a long drive that will see you run for a long period on an empty battery and the petrol engine doing all the hard work, expect around 40mpg. This isn't unique to the Kuga PHEV, as all hybrids suffer this on long journeys.  

We've seen the electric range average about 25 to 30 real-world miles with the Kuga hybrid, which is perfect if you’ve got kids to ferry about or only a short work commute but still need to make long journeys at weekends. Charging is quick, too, with the battery taking about four hours to brim. 

MPG and fuel costs: What does a Ford Kuga cost to run?

"High-mileage drivers should look for a Kuga with one of the EcoBlue diesel engines. The 1.5-litre returns up to 55mpg in WLTP fuel economy tests."

Ford Kuga Review 2024: side profile

This drops marginally to 52mpg with the eight-speed automatic gearbox, while the 2.0-litre mild-hybrid diesel can see up to 56.5mpg. The more powerful, non-hybrid 2.0-litre diesel will return up to 48mpg."

If you’d prefer a petrol, the 150PS Kuga 1.5-litre EcoBoost returns up to 42.8mpg. The entry-level 120PS unit officially achieves 42.2mpg in WLTP fuel economy tests.

Then there’s the plug-in hybrid Kuga PHEV. This officially returns 201.8mpg although this won’t be achievable in reality unless you charge it regularly and cover most of your journeys under electric power alone. 

This generation of the Ford Kuga didn't get off to the most auspicious start when there was a large-scale recall of PHEV models due to an overheating fault that could cause a fire when charging. The fix involved the replacement of the entire drive battery pack.

Ford doesn't perform especially strongly overall in reliability and owner satisfaction, coming in 23rd out of 30 manufacturers in the latest Satisfaction Index. That said, our sister title has also run a Kuga PHEV as a long term test car and enjoyed a fault-free experience, while the previous model proved to be generally reliable.

The cheapest Ford Kuga to insure will be the Zetec model with the 1.5-litre Ecoboost petrol engine. This falls into insurance group 10.

Go for a plug-in hybrid petrol-electric or an all-wheel drive diesel, though, and you'll see the insurance group jump up to 19 or 20. Top of the range Vignale models reach Group 21 or 22. Granted, that won't be cheap to insure but 22 is still a long way from highest Group 50.

How much should you be paying for a used Ford Kuga?

"You'll be able to find at used third-generation Ford Kuga for around £16,000, but it's worth stretching your budget a little bit further if you can."

Ford Kuga Review 2024: rear dynamic

That £16,000 will get you an early 2020 Ford Kuga in either Zetec or Titanium trim with the entry-level petrol or diesel engines under the bonnet. Spend £2000-£3000 more and you'll find the Kuga in more eye-catching ST-Line trim and a few more engine options.

Fancy a PHEV Kuga? You'll have to dig a bit deeper still, with some moderately low mileage options available from around £20,000 upwards.

As we said earlier, Ford played around with the Kuga's trim levels a bit over the years. At launch, even the most affordable Ford Kuga Zetec was pretty comprehensively equipped. Exterior highlights include 17-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, a Quickclear heated windscreen and silver roof rails, as well as twin exhausts and a rear spoiler. Inside, there’s a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob, keyless start and manual air conditioning.

The Zetec also gets sports seats with manual adjustment (including lumbar support and height adjustment for the driver), as well as Ford’s SYNC3 eight-inch navigation system (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto). Front- and rear parking sensors are also standard, as well as cruise control, lane-keeping assist and autonomous emergency braking.

Ford Kuga Titanium models build on this with 18-inch alloy wheels, full LED headlights, keyless entry, ambient lighting and automatic headlights/windscreen wipers. The sports seats are now finished with part-leather trim, while the passenger seat gets eight-way adjustment including lumbar support and height adjustment. A B&O premium sound system is standard, along with a 4.2-inch TFT instrument cluster (6.5-inches on Kuga PHEV models).

The posh Ford Kuga Vignale comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, bespoke exterior detailing and metallic paint as standard. Inside, there’s full leather seat trim, 10-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat and heated front seats. The steering wheel, gear knob and instrument panel are all wrapped in leather. A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster features, as well as a head-up display and Active Park Assist.

Sporty Ford Kuga ST-Line trim builds on the Titanium with 18-inch alloy wheels, black roof rails, ST-Line exterior styling (including a rear spoiler and red brake callipers). Inside, there’s partial-leather sports seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and a bespoke ST-Line gear knob. Like the Vignale, the ST-Line also comes with the fancy digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster. Sports suspension is standard on most ST-Line models (but not the 2.0 EcoBlue 190PS AWD version).

The Ford Kuga ST-Line X sits above the standard ST-Line, with added highlights including 19-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof and a hands-free electric tailgate. It also gets a 10-way adjustable driver’s seat and heated front seats.

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

We like the Ford Kuga a lot and there's lots to be positive about. It’s got bags of space, an engine for everyone and an interior that feels much classier than ever before.
We found that the petrols are a little underpowered. Go for a diesel if you cover a lot of miles, or a plug-in hybrid Kuga is a great cheap-to-run alternative.
If you're after economy, look for a Ford Kuga with one of the EcoBlue diesel engines. The 1.5-litre returns up to 55mpg in WLTP fuel economy tests.

Other popular reviews