Where Ford’s plug-in SUV Kuga scores – and loses
I was both a perpetrator and a victim of a car door that was opened too wide and left a small scratch. It can happen in a tight parking space.
Well, my heart sank on the few occasions it happened to be my fault.
Fortunately, the point of contact was mild and no damage was evident.
Except for one instance a while back when my car was on the receiving end of a fairly old hit. Obviously the culprit had already pulled off the coup and I was disgusted by the small but noticeable scar.
I was reminded of this while reviewing this week’s test car, the Ford Kuga Plug-in.
It features special door edge protectors that pop out when the door is opened, creating a non-damaging barrier between your door and that of the car parked next to you.
Isn’t it funny how little things like this stand out (no pun intended) while larger, technological items are taken for granted?
The Kuga has been around for a while and has been a popular purchase despite some bizarre price swings, but I’ve never ridden the plug-in version.
Ford really needs some all-electric cars. There’s a lot coming up next year, but there’s still a lot of catching up to do.
For now, he’ll have to do his best with “electrified” models like this plug-in Kuga.
As you know, the good thing about plug-ins is that they are like ordinary hybrids in that they have two power sources: petrol engine and battery/motor.
However, they have a larger high-voltage battery that you can charge when you are at rest (e.g. at home). So you can drive purely battery-electric for longer.
The Kuga’s 14.4kWh battery can cover a claimed pure EV range of 56km. Sometimes these claims are way off the mark. Not so much with the Kuga. Well done.
But the official consumption values of just under one liter per 100 km are fantasy. I say that about every PHEV. It’s frustrating. But the numbers are official and mean lower road tax.
Frankly, this Kuga needs every positive attitude it can get, as it faces stiff competition from a slew of modern compact SUV competitors – think Volkswagen Tiguan, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage.
There was always one engine that handled particularly well and was once the best of them all. But this PHEV version didn’t get my heart racing. I found it had a good level of body roll, even with the smooth twists and turns.
It also didn’t fare particularly well when it came to cushioning common bumps and bumps. And the steering wheel didn’t offer the reassuring feedback I’d come to expect from what I’d always thought of as part of a dynamic overall chassis setup.
However, there are compensating factors. The cabin is fairly spacious and among the best in its class, while the trunk was more than adequate.
Weirdly, I struggled to find my best driver’s seating position, which isn’t the norm in cars like this. I can’t explain it, but I think the steering wheel height and reach was a bit stingy and forced me to compromise. I would have preferred to sit higher with better all-round visibility.
The infotainment screen sits in the center of the dashboard and now looks a bit dated, although its functions were simple and clear. In contrast, the driver data screen (behind the wheel) was sleek and sharp.
It was pleasant enough to drive and there was plenty of power, but I found the 2.5-litre petrol engine to be a bit noisy and noticeable when starting off – which was quite often the case given the versatility of my driving style: short journeys and longer motorway journeys.
The gear selector knob is a lesson in simplicity. The automatic CVT transmission was smooth enough. All those little things make a big difference when you focus on what’s going on around you.
I was well catered for with the seating, which was ample and comfortable. And as a quick look at the spec sheet shows, there was plenty of helpful tech, from parking assist to adaptive cruise control.
And of course there was the concept of the simple door guard that I mentioned earlier. Luckily I didn’t need it, but it was good to know it was there. Wouldn’t it be great if all cars had something similar?
Would I buy this plugin? I’m not sure. It hasn’t really set any outstanding standards, but it’s certainly a decent package. I just think it doesn’t perform quite as well as some of its main competitors.
That’s my view. I have no doubt it would appeal to many families looking for a roomy, all-around comfortable compact crossover.
Ford Kuga PHEV, crossover, 2.5 liters, 225 hp electric petrol engine, CVT automatic, 32 g/km; purely electric range 56 km. Model-tested equipment includes ST-Line sport seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, black roof rails, ST-Line body styling kit, rear spoiler and red brake calipers.
Options include a technology package, driver assistance: front camera, adaptive cruise control, intelligent speed assistant, active parking assistant and door edge protection.
Starting price from €46,340. ST-Line PHEV from €48,519; with options €52,079.
https://www.independent.ie/life/motoring/car-reviews/where-fords-kuga-plug-in-suv-scores-and-loses-out-42327269.html Where Ford’s plug-in SUV Kuga scores – and loses