One in three vehicles sold in Australia are SUVs, and that number is only growing. Last year, sales grew over 15%, with over 408,000 new SUVs finding an Australian home.
It’s no surprise then that this market is one of the most important, if not the most important area for manufacturers.
Ford is jumping at it too, with four different models currently up for offer. The Australian built (and soon to be discontinued) Territory, the Ranger based Everest, the pint sized EcoSport and the compact sized Kuga which slots in the middle of all of them.
The Kuga is probably the most interesting proposition of all of them. It’s not too big that you feel like you’re driving a truck everywhere, but it’s big enough to be a viable car for a small family.
We’ve been driving around the flagship Titanium trim, priced at $44,990, which is at the upper end of pricing for a car in its category. With that though, you get loads of standard equipment and a strong 178kW/345Nm 2.0-litre EcoBoost turbo engine.
That equipment list includes reverse camera, satnav, heated and cooled seats, a heads up display, panorama sunroof, driver safety features such as lane departure warning and automatic reverse parking. Conveniently, there’s even a feature where you can open the boot by sweeping your foot underneath the rear of the car – handy when you have your hands full.
The dash and centre console can feel a little cheap, with lots of shiny plastic and the Sync2 touchscreen feels like it’s a bit of an afterthought with its placement. But everything works as you expect and is extremely easy to use. Sync2 has always been one of my favourite infotainment systems this side of a Tesla Model S, and it’s no different in the Kuga.
Backseats are by no means as roomy as a large sedan, but adults will be able to comfortably sit in the back for an extended period, with leather seats that recline if needed, and seperate air conditioning vents.
While in the grind of the city, the Kuga feels fine and trouble-free, just like most cars in its class, it is actually a surprisingly fun car to drive out of the city.
Despite the fact it’s an SUV, it’s actually really fun to drive thanks to that strong turbo engine, its AWD system and a platform shared with the equally great Focus hatch. There’s of course a bit of body roll through the corners, as expected from a high riding car, but grip levels and its sharp steering are seriously impressive. You can throw it into a corner and come out with a smile.
That 178kW engine is far more potent than the classes best selling car – the Mazda CX-5, and gets the Kuga away from the line very briskly, and makes overtaking on the highway a breeze.
It’s a pricey proposition, but if you’re after a small-to-mid sized SUV, the good equipment list and excellent engine make the Kuga Titanium a solid choice.
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