Looks can be deceptive. The Kuga may look like a 4×4, but power goes to the front wheels only in this version of Ford’s compact SUV.
It might seem odd to choose a two-wheel-drive version of a four-wheel-drive car for towing, but in the Kuga’s case, it makes a lot of sense. For a start, it’s much cheaper to buy. The list price dips under £20,000; with some determined haggling, that should fall to just over £17,000. The 4×4 model we tested last year would set you back several thousand more.
Fuel economy also benefits. Without the added weight and complication of four-wheel drive, the Kuga promises 46.3mpg on the combined cycle; that’s 2.2mpg better than the 4×4.
In bad weather or towing across grass and mud you may miss four-wheel drive, but in the dry we didn’t miss it one bit. Through the lane-change test, the Kuga was quick and stable. The Al-Ko ATC system recorded a peak of 0.9G, although in the car all was calm and controlled.
For a front-wheel-drive car, the Kuga also performed well on the 1-in-6 test hill. The handbrake needed a very firm pull before it would hold, but there were no issues pulling car and caravan to the top.
We’re big fans of the 2.0-litre diesel fitted to the Kuga and many other Fords. It’s a smooth and responsive engine, so overtaking won’t be a problem. If you need to stop in a hurry, the Kuga also delivers, stopping from 30mph in just 10.8 metres.
We do have some reservations. The rear seats are rather cramped and Ford’s handbook is light on towing information. Otherwise, we’re happy to recommend the Kuga as class winner.