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What’s going on? What’s with the veritable flood AWD’s, 4WD’s and 2WD SUV’s? Why are almost a third of all vehicles sold in Australia of this ilk? Australia seems amidst a love affair that is only going one way, up. In this vein, a substantial numbers of cars we’ve driven in the last few years have been SUV-like but not all are the same. There is a vast range of driver experience, and cost, between the bottom and the top. The truth is no one is going to take a $250 grand Range Rover into the great beyond, no one. Why? It costs $250,000, isn’t that enough?

At the other end of the market there are the compact SUV’s. The ones that don’t require a parking space the size of Tasmania make the most sense if you absolutely have to have recreational vehicle. Firstly, why do people insist on SUV’s? There are several main points: Driver’s seat height, cargo space and driving all four wheels. With that in mind we took the Kuga out for a spin.

The Kuga is neat on the outside. It’s not exactly pretty but it does look modern and up to date. Like all compact SUVs, there is a basic two-box design with 4 wheels. Our test car drove all four wheels via the Schematic Traction System driven through the 6 speed auto. It’s smooth with remarkably subtle shifts, and even in the heaviest rain feels secure. There is a 2WD model which frankly defeats the whole purpose of buying a go-anywhere SUV of any size. Apparently there is call for it with those who just want the look but for less money. Is it really worth the weight saving?

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Our base model lacked the niceties the top model. It’s the top model shown on the ads so no auto tailgate leg waving or keyless entry on our car. At around $50,000 for the range topper, I’d expect the tech pack to be included but instead you are asked to pay an extr2013 ford kuga titanium (20)a $2,650. It is this pack which has the real spit-and-polish like blind spot warning etc. Other compact SUVs have some of these features standard.

The interior feels like a Focus so is nice quality. Things are where you expect them to be and if you have driven another Ford recently you’ll slot right in as if you’ve been there for years. It’s fresh and young with a feel of Euro class thrown in.

2013 ford kugaThe driving position is comfy, also exactly as you’d expect. The steering, ride and brakes feel like the Focus as well which is no surprise, since the Kuga shares many parts with the Focus including the C1 platform (also seen in the Mazda 3).

The Ford global platforms allow many cars to be made on the same production line with little change other than the bits you can see from the driver’s seat. Is this a good thing? In a way yes, but only if the cars slung off that platform drive well. The cars have different floorpans, but the front- and rear-subframes, suspension, steering, braking, safety, and electrical components are shared. This means there are Volvos, Mazdas and Fords whose DNA gives them a driving dynamic once only fantasised about. It’s one of the sadder aspects of Ford divesting itself of Volvo.

I liked the drive because it felt familiar and reassuring. The engine was willing with plenty of low-down poke. Above all it did it while sipping petrol at a rate that would make a lawn mower jealous. I liked it very much but there is some stiff opposition from Hondas CRV and the VW Tiguan both of which we liked very much.

It wouldn’t be right to say the Kuga drives exactly like a regular car but it is pretty close. It might be better if you thought of it as a Focus with more space. I like to see her looking slightly chunkier to give it that butch look.

Features, Specs and Pricing:


Ambiente – Front Wheel Drive


• 5-door medium SUV


• EcoBoost 110kW / 240 Nm 1.6-litre GTDi petrol engine

• 6-speed manual transmission

• Engine idle Stop/Start function

• Control Blade independent rear suspension

• Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS)

• Z-Shaped mechanical handbrake

• Smart regenerative charging

• Active Grille Radiator Shutters (petrol models only)


• 17-inch x 7.5-inch steel wheels with 235/55 R17 tyres

• Body coloured door and liftgate handles

• Body coloured mirrors

• Front and rear lower bumper skid plates (silver appearance)

• Front and rear foglights

• Heated electric side mirrors with side indicators

• Rear spoiler

• Dual exhausts with stainless steel finisher

• Halogen headlights (with manual levelling)

• Mini spare wheel


• Anti-allergic interior components

• Cloth trim sports seats (V-shape)

• 6-way manual adjustable driver seat

• 4-way manual adjustable front passenger seat

• 4-spoke leather wrapped steering wheel

• Height and reach adjustable steering column

• Driver and front passenger illuminated vanity mirror

• Overhead console with map reading lamps and sunglass holder

• Footwell lights

• Illuminated glove box and cargo area light

• Rear armrest with two cupholders

• Flat loading rear cargo floor

• Rear cargo tonneau cover

• Rear cargo security panel (Ambiente only)

• 60/40 split rear seats fold flat floor / partial recline function

Comfort and Convenience

• Keyless ‘Ford Power’ start button (start/stop push button)

• Steering wheel mounted audio / cruise controls

• Air conditioning (manual controls)

• Cruise control with Auto Speed Limit Device

• Trip computer

• Power one shot up / down front / rear windows with global open / close

• Variable interval intermittent front wipersFord EasyFuel capless refuelling system

• 12 volt power outlets x 3 – cargo area, console and second row

Audio and Connectivity

• SYNC in-car connectivity with Voice Control

• Single CD audio system (USB / iPod compatible)

• 3.5’’ mono TFT screen

• Bluetooth®* mobile phone integration

• Steering wheel-mounted audio controls

• 6 speakers

• 1 x USB port, 1 x 3.5mm AUX port

Safety and Security

· Emergency Assistance

· Dynamic Stability Control with ABS, Roll Over Mitigation, Hill-Launch Assist, Disc brakes with Emergency Brake Assist, Trailer Stability Function

· Electronic Brake Assist

· Single stage driver and front passenger airbags

· Side Curtain Airbags (front and second row)

· Side front thorax and pelvis airbags

· Driver’s knee airbag

· Seat belt minder (front and rear)

Ambiente – All-Wheel Drive

Features additional to Ambiente FWD


• EcoBoost 134 kW / 240 Nm 1.6-litre GTDi petrol engine

• 6-speed SelectShift automatic (All-Wheel Drive)

Trend – All-Wheel Drive

Features additional to Ambiente


• EcoBoost 134 kW / 240 Nm 1.6-litre GTDi petrol engine

• TDCi 120 kW / 340 Nm 2.0-litre turbo diesel (optional)

• 6-speed SelectShift automatic (1.6 AWD)

• 6-speed Powershift automatic (2.0 AWD)


• 18-inch x 7.5-inch alloy wheels with 235/50 R18 tyres (ILO of 17-inch steel wheels)

• Roof rails (silver)


• Seats – leather inserts

• 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat

• Leather gear shifter

• Electrochromatic rear view mirrorComfort and Convenience

• Dual zone climate control

• Automatic headlights

• Rain sensing wipers

• Rear compartment air ducts to second row

• Follow-me-home lighting

• Privacy glass (rear of B-pillar)

Audio and Connectivity

• 4.2’’ colour TFT screen (ILO of 3.5” mono screen)

• Sony single CD audio system with SYNC in-car connectivity with Voice Control (USB

/ iPod compatible)

• 9-speakers (ILO of 6 speakers)

• Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) radio (Technology Pack – Optional on Trend & Titanium)

• Active City Stop (low speed collision mitigation by braking)

• Adaptive Cruise Control

• Blind Spot Information System

• Lane Keeping Aid

• Lane Departure Warning

• Auto High-Beam Control

• Driver Impairment Monitor

Titanium – All-Wheel drive Features additional to the Trend Exterior

• 19-inch x 8-inch alloy wheels with 235/45 R19 tyres (ILO of 18-inch alloy)

• Power opening panorama glass roof

• Bi-xenon headlights with automatic levelling and headlight jet wash

• Front LED daytime running lights

• Rear LED tail-lights

• Power folding mirrors with approach lights (ILO of power mirrors only)

• Hands-free power tailgate

• Front parking sensors


• Seats –leather inserts and bolsters (ILO of leather inserts only)

• Ambient lighting with multi-colour-LEDs

• Heated front seats with variable heating controls

• Tables on front seatbacks

• 6-way manual adjustable front passenger seat

• Stainless steel front door scuff plates

• Front and rear floor mats

Comfort and Convenience

• Key-free entry and start

• Active Park Assist

• Satellite navigation Audio and Connectivity

· 5’’ colour TFT screen (ILO of 4.2” colour screen)

· Satellite navigation

Safety and Security

• Rear view camera

• AdvanceTrac Roll Stability Control (more advanced version of Roll Over Mitigation with additional sensors / Hill Launch Assist and Trailer Stability Function)

Engine 1.6L GTDi

(EcoBoost petrol)

2.0L TDCi

(Turbo Diesel)

Transmission 6-speed manual (Ambiente FWD only) Or 6-speed automatic with Sport Mode 6-speed PowerShift automatic With Sport Mode
Maximum Power 110 kW (FWD manual) 134 kW (AWD automatic) 120 kW (AWD auto)
Maximum Torque 240 Nm 340 Nm
Recommended fuel 95-98 RON*

*91 RON compatible but for optimal performance 95-98 RON unleaded petrol is recommended

Emissions Euro V Euro V
Auto Stop-Start Only with FWD Manual N/A
Driven Wheels FWD (Ambiente manual only) Or AWD AWD
Fuel consumption 1.6 L GTDi 2.0L TDCi
Ambiente Trend/Titanium Trend Titanium
Urban (L/100km) 8.4 (MT)

10.2 (AT)

10.7 7.5 7.7
Extra Urban (L/100km) 5.7 (MT)

6.3 (AT)

6.5 5.6 5.7
Combined (L/100km) 6.7 (MT)

7.7 (AT)

8.0 6.3 6.4
CO2 (gm/100km) 157 (MT)

179 (AT)

186 166 168
Model Drivetrain Engine MLP*
Ambiente FWD manual 1.6-litre EcoBoost $27,990
Ambiente AWD automatic 1.6-litre EcoBoost $31,490
2Trend AWD automatic 1.6-litre EcoBoost $36,240
2Trend AWD automatic 2.0-litre TDCi $39,240
2Titanium AWD automatic 1.6-litre EcoBoost $44,740
2Titanium AWD automatic 2.0-litre TDCi $47,740
Options – Trend and Titanium
2TechnologyPack $2,650

· Active City Stop

· Adaptive Cruise Control

· Blind Spot Information System

· Lane Keeping Aid

· Lane Departure Warning

· Auto High Beam Control

· Driver Impairment Monitor

Prestige Paint $385