Goodwood Test: 2022 Ford Kuga ST-Line X Edition PHEV Review
Ford has been associated with fun family motoring in Britain for decades. From the time of the first Cortina – fettled by Lotus – when saloons ruled the roads, through to the era of the hot hatchback in both Cosworth and RS guise, Ford has had fast families covered. Now of course family motoring is definitively SUV-shaped and increasingly hybridised. So, does the Ford Kuga PHEV still adhere to the established Ford formula?
- Design update makes it a big brother to the Puma
- Drives well for an SUV
- Loaded with tech in the top trim levels
We don't like
- The infotainment feels outdated
- The battery-only range is limited
- Mid-range variants probably better value
The Ford Kuga was always a handsome car but familiarity had started to blunt its appeal. A recent facelift has helped to address that however, bringing it closer in appearance to its brand new little brother the Puma. Our ST-Line X Edition model in particular does a good job of adopting some of the Puma ST’s styling cues and upsizing them to the larger vehicle.
A larger grille and LED headlights tighten up the front end while sharper radius curves in the sheet metal help to update the overall look. The lowered suspension and larger 19-inch alloys of this variant add to the visual appeal helped by the optional Lucid Red paintwork.
Performance and Handling
The style, the ST-line badging and the quoted 225PS (165 kW) promise performance a plenty but unfortunately this doesn’t prove to be the case, at least not in a straight line. The 0-62mph time is a surprisingly sluggish 9.2 seconds and top speed an academic but still less than stellar 125mph.
The Kuga does acquit itself a lot better once moving however, the 2.5-litre Duratec is a torquey motor able to punchily keep up with flowing traffic on dual carriageways and A-roads. The twistier trails also suit it surprisingly well for an SUV but this is a Ford after all. The lowered ride height translates into flatter cornering with well weighted steering, direct turn in and plenty of grip.
Driving like that of course won’t get you anywhere near the claimed 35 miles of battery-only range nor the headline fuel consumption figure of 201.8mpg and 26g/km of CO2 emissions. The Kuga takes around six to seven hours to charge from a standard wall socket so remember to plug it in every evening and most people could in theory get to work and back without troubling the ICE engine up front.
This is one area where the age of the underlying platform of the Kuga is starting to show its age. Yes there is a central touchscreen but it looks like an afterthought and the User Interface is somewhat clunky with out-of-date looking graphics. A full digital dashboard acquits itself better both in appearance and UI. The ST-Line gets some sporty touches with well bolstered sports seats up front, red stitched everything and of course a flat-bottomed steering wheel. The Kuga does suffer somewhat from the Ford tendency to put many different and interesting shapes abutting each other and while each is fine in isolation, taken together they can result in a busyness to the dashboard.
Rear seat passengers fare OK and bootspace is adequate. The two can be traded off against each other through the sliding and tilting rear bench which is also heated, a rarity in any level of car.
Technology and Features
Critique of the touchscreen and its graphics aside, the Kuga, at least in this top trim level, is certainly not lacking in tech. In fact, this may be one of the highest spec press cars we have driven in some time. There is the aforementioned 12.3-inch digital dashboard and a host of features to make living with the Kuga an easier experience all round. The owner will not have to worry about removing the keys from their pocket to enter or start the car; the boot can (sometimes) be opened by waggling one’s foot underneath the rear bumper; full LED lights turn themselves on as required, as do the windscreen wipers.
There is of course a large helping of driver assistance and safety tech, some of it previously the domain of much more expensive metal such as the adaptive cruise control, Active Park Assist which controls the brakes, gears and accelerator while parking plus front and rear cameras. And to while away the time while ferrying the family around the highways and byways of Britain is the obligatory Android Auto and Apple CarPlay reaching your ears via a B&O sound system.
The Ford Kuga, like so many blue oval products before it, has become largely the default family car. Which is to say that it works very well in meeting the needs of the average family whether as a first, second or only car. There are sharper and newer rivals and the next generation of both PHEVs and pure battery electric family SUVs are going to rapidly outpace it but the Kuga is still an attractive proposition both visually and practically.
This score is an average based on aggregated reviews from trusted and verified sources.
|Engine||2.5-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol plus electric motor|
|Transmission||CVT automatic, front-wheel-drive|
|Range, economy||34.8 miles, 201.8mpg|
|Charging||6 hours from 0-100 per cent with a 230V home socket, 3.5 hours from 0-100 per cent via a 3.3 hours via a 400V home wallbox|
|Price||£38,005 (£40,755 as tested)|
Reviewed by Henry Biggs