- 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
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.
Is the 2024 Ford Kuga right for you?
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.
What other cars are similar to the Ford Kuga?
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.
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.
Quality and finish
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.
Infotainment: touchscreen, USB, nav and stereo in the Ford Kuga
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.
Space and practicality: Ford Kuga boot space
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.
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.
What engines and gearboxes are available in the Ford Kuga?
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