Revised compact SUV is a prospect for solid service
FORD was so keen to replace its ageing Escape that it released the first-generation Kuga in 2012 even though it was about to be replaced by a new model.
Within a year that Kuga was gone and the much-needed, much-improved new model landed on our shores.
SUVs have been the great game-changer in automotive land in recent times.
People dreaming of an outback adventure might have once bought them but now they have to be practical and flexible for carting family gear, as well as frugal and good-looking as well.
Ford addressed complaints about the rear seat being a little cramped in the previous model by making the attractively styled new TF model a little longer, which also served to boost the boot space.
There were limited choices in the original series but the TF delivered a full range of models starting with the Ambiente entry model, going up via the Trend mid-ranger to the Titanium range-topper with a full complement of features.
The Ambiente came with front or all-wheel drive and the Trend and Titanium were ondemand all-wheel drive.
Power came from a 1.6-litre EcoBoost turbo that required premium unleaded or a 2.0-litre turbo diesel. The Ambiente got the turbo petrol but the Trend or Titanium could be specified with either engine.
In the Ambiente, the transmission was a six-speed manual. In the higher-spec variants, the petrol engine was paired with a six-speed automatic and the diesel turned a six-speed dual-clutch auto.
On the road the Kuga was quiet and unfussed, the ride was smooth and comfortable on local tarmac and the handling was assured.
Three years release, it’s early days for the TF Kuga. It’s not showing any issues that would indicate trouble ahead and it is in its prime as a second-hand buy. It’s new enough for a buyer to expect solid service and reliability.
There ae some niggles but Kuga owners are a contented lot. Most praise its comfort and refinement, its on-road feel and behaviour; they like its performance and in the main approve of its fuel economy.
Dislikes centre mainly on the audio but one owner encountered problems with the diesel injectors, and somewhat worryingly, the failure of the auto transmission cooler.
To date there have been no recalls of the Kuga.
Regular maintenance is the key to a long and trouble free experience with any car, and the Kuga is no different. Check the service record — a neglected car is one to avoid.
Laurie Mewburn We had an ex-fleet 2013 Titanium diesel until July. We bought it with 8000km on it and really enjoyed it until it developed a horrific noise under load and when cold. The dealer found it to be the injectors, which were replaced and the computer was reset. Then the transmission cooler split and filled the cooling system with oil. Fearing what could happen when the warranty ran out, I traded it on a Kia Sportage. I am disappointed the Kuga was let down by these issues as it was a very good car before they arose.
Glenn Walker Our 2013 Titanium diesel is a pleasure to drive. It has enough grunt to overtake safely, climbs hills with ease and sits well on the road. Deft touches include headlight adjustment and parking assist. Overall it’s nice value.
Terry Boyle I’ve done 39,000km in my 2014 Ambiente AWD. Overall it has been a good reliable vehicle but there are a couple of disappointing things. The Sync audio is very poor, it’s hard to read and the radio reception is poor. There is a slight wheel shudder noticeable through the steering wheel, which the dealer hasn’t been able to fix. I would have liked mag wheels and a full-size spare. On the positive side it feels safe in all weather conditions, it’s comfortable, and