Prime-timer

Re­vised com­pact SUV is a prospect for solid ser­vice

Herald Sun - Cars Guide - - USED CAR -

NEW

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.

NOW

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.

OWN­ERS SAY

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

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