Review: Ford Kuga Plug-in Hybrid

The latest generation is bigger than before with a whole new styling direction, and perhaps most importantly, a commitment to electrified powertrains from a brand that has lagged somewhat behind rivals in this department. The plug-in hybrid variant we’re testing here is a pretty big deal, then, thanks to lower running costs from a car that buyers already seem to love. Elsewhere, the interior has been brought up a notch, and there are new technologies both in the cabin and under the skin to improve the driving experience such as driver safety and assistance systems. It sits on Ford’s new C2 vehicle architecture, which the company says has resulted in the new Kuga being lighter than its predecessor, more aerodynamic for better fuel economy, and with better crash safety. As we’ve come to expect from Ford products, it handles well, doing a good job of restraining its heft in corners, while also not being intimidating to drive around town thanks to the smooth and responsive electric motor. However, there are quite a few negative aspects to the driving experience, such as the bizarre, rubbery self-centring of the steering wheel as you turn – something common to Fords but most prominent in the Kuga. From a distance it looks like a family hatchback rather than an SUV, meaning it stands out less than rivals on the road but still offers the high driving position and practicality that has made this segment so popular. Our top-spec Vignale model also comes incredibly well-specified, with high-quality materials used throughout and luxury extras such as a heated steering wheel and leather-wrapped instrument panel helping to improve the overall feel. Rear seat passengers, big and small, will have plenty of leg room, while boot space is decent at 411 litres, even if it is less spacious than non-hybrid versions. If you’re not looking to stretch to the price of a top-spec model – or just don’t fancy putting premium leather at the mercy of the kids – the Kuga’s interior has all the practicality and build quality you could need in a family car, regardless of trim level. For this, prices start at £37,785 and equipment includes 19-inch alloy wheels, full LED headlights with automatic anti-glare full beam, premium leather seat trim with heated front seats and heated steering wheel, Vignale bodykit, metallic paint, a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster, automated park assist and a head-up display. Its styling is sleek and unimposing, the interior is well made and spacious, and the electrified portion of its powertrain makes for a relaxing, effortless driving experience.