The new Ford Kuga starts $10,000 below its predecessor that was introduced here in 2012 late in its life cycle and with just one, relatively expensive trim level.
A first front-wheel-drive (manual only) variant – the Ford Kuga Ambiente – costs from $27,990 and allows Ford to take on similarly priced entry-level models of rival models found below the $30,000 mark.
Two other trim levels are all-wheel-drive models. The Ford Kuga Trend starts from $36,240; the Ford Kuga Titanium starts from $44,990.
The range-topping Titanium introduces the mid-size SUV category’s first model featuring a hands-free tailgate that can open by a kick of a leg beneath the rear bumper.
Surprisingly, the handy technology – which involves just a simple sensor – isn’t available as an option on other trim levels.
Other technology that is available on specific trim levels only includes fuel-saving engine stop-start (Ambiente only), rear-view camera (Titanium only), parallel parking assist (Titanium only), and a $2650 Technology Package (Trend and Titanium) that includes active cruise control, blind spot/lane keeping/lane departure warning systems, auto high beam, and a Driver Impairment system that monitors for inefficient attention.
Ford Australia says it is looking at adding the camera and hands-free tailgate at a later date.
Ford has also used the Kuga to bring in its latest Sync hands-free phone and music system that features an Emergency Assistance mode that can dial 000 in the event of an accident and provide GPS co-ordinates if the driver has become unconscious.
The new Ford Kuga is the third model to offer the company’s EcoBoost engine technology that aims to combine direct fuel injection and turbocharging to deliver the power of a bigger engine but the efficiency of a smaller engine.
After the 2.0-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost engines in the Falcon and Focus ST, the Kuga’s 1.6-litre petrol turbo is the smallest for now.
A less powerful, 110kW version of the 1.6-litre four is teamed with a six-speed manual in the Ford Kuga Ambiente. Benefiting from a stop-start system it officially uses 6.7 litres of premium unleaded per 100 kilometres, or 7.7L/100km if the optional six-speed auto has been chosen.
The Ford Kuga Trend and Titanium AWD auto models get 134kW but the same 240Nm of torque. They don’t use much more fuel than the Ambiente auto, rated at 8.0L/100km.
Ford says the engines can run on regular unleaded at the expense of optimal performance.
The most fuel-efficient Ford Kuga engine is an alternative 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel with 120kW and 340Nm and official combined consumption of either 6.3L/100km (Trend) or 6.4L/100km.
The TDCi engine, however, carries a $3000 premium over the equivalent petrol model.
Key features for the Ford Kuga base model include 17-inch wheels (but with steel rims), cruise control, trip computer, foglights, leather steering wheel, heated side mirrors, cargo cover, four-way adjustable steering wheel, one-touch electric windows all round, and Sync Bluetooth phone and music system with voice control.
Notable extras over for the Trend over the Ambiente include 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, 10-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat, higher-grade seats with leather inserts, auto-dimming rear view mirror, rain-sensing wipers, tinted rear windows, two-zone climate control, larger (4.2-inch) console display, Sony audio with nine (rather than six) speakers, and digital radio.
Pay another $8500 over the Trend and the range-topping Ford Kuga Titanium brings 19-inch alloy wheels, panoramic sunroof, LED daytime running lights, front and rear sensors, auto headlights, heated front seats, a 5-inch colour display, picnic tables attached to the front seatbacks, a rear view camera and the aforementioned hands-free automatic tailgate.
The Ford Kuga is fitted with seven airbags and comes with a maximum five-star independent crash safety rating.
The new Ford Kuga is officially on sale from May 1st.
Ford Kuga range
- Ford Kuga Ambiente FWD manual 1.6-litre EcoBoost – from $27,990
- Ford Kuga Ambiente AWD automatic 1.6-litre EcoBoost – from $31,490
- Ford Kuga Trend AWD automatic 1.6-litre EcoBoost – from $36,240
- Ford Kuga Trend AWD automatic 2.0-litre TDCi – from $39,240
- Ford Kuga Titanium AWD automatic 1.6-litre EcoBoost – from $44,740
- Ford Kuga Titanium AWD automatic 2.0-litre TDCi – from $47,740