Ford Kuga Hybrid review
The full-hybrid version of the Ford Kuga SUV is as practical and good to drive as the rest of the range, but like them, its interior lacks personality and its transmission is a weak point
- Good to drive
- Spacious interior
- Lots of standard equipment
- CVT transmission
- Small infotainment screen
- Not as efficient as plug-in
While Ford offers a plug-in-hybrid (PHEV) version of the Kuga SUV, this is the full-hybrid variant. Officially called the Ford Kuga FHEV (Full Hybrid Electric Vehicle), it's a more affordable, but slightly less fuel-efficient option for those who may not want the hassle of charging the plug-in hybrid every day.
The Kuga FHEV range starts from just over £33,500, compared to just over £36,500 for the equivalent plug-in hybrid. Our test car was a high-spec ST-Line X Edition model, which costs just under £34,500. All Kuga Hybrids are powered by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, working in conjunction with an electric motor that’s fed by a compact 1.1kWh battery. Combined, the Kuga FHEV produces 187bhp, which makes the hybrid SUV capable of 0-62mph in 9.1 seconds.
It’s not as fast as the plug-in hybrid Kuga, then, and nor is it capable of the same pure-electric driving range; it's mostly only good for very short distances on electric power alone at low speeds. Instead, the hybrid powertrain is more for assisting the petrol engine and boosting the Kuga’s efficiency. It's effective at that, though, with our test car’s trip computer showing 49.5mpg, which is actually higher than Ford’s official figures. The ST-Line X Edition on larger 19-inch alloy wheels emits 133g/km of CO2, compared to 125g/km for lower-spec models.
On the road, the Kuga FHEV handles well, with quick, precise steering and good grip meaning you can enjoy it when you encounter a twisty road. The ride may be too much on the firm side for some, but it’s far from uncomfortable. The CVT transmission is less impressive. Toyota has demonstrated how CVT gearboxes can be relaxing to use on the road in some of its latest models, like the various Corollas and the RAV4. The same can't be said for the Kuga FHEV, as its gearbox feels a tad sluggish at times. It doesn’t mean performance is bad, just that we’d expect more refinement from a hybrid SUV like this.
You do get plenty of standard equipment for your money in the Kuga. ST-Line X Edition cars like the one we tested feature larger alloy wheels, a panoramic roof, heated front and rear seats and a heated steering wheel, as well as full LED lights, a powered tailgate, a premium Bang & Olufsen stereo and a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display.
All Kugas come with an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen that features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, but the unit itself is on the small side compared to those in rivals. Overall, the interior doesn’t have the same amount of flair as rivals, either, but there's plenty of space inside, with up to 526 litres of boot capacity when all seats are in place.
Overall, the Kuga FHEV is an efficient family SUV that offers low running costs and plenty of kit as standard. It is let down by its gearbox and the effect it has on the car's refinement, but it's still very practical and one of the best-driving SUVs on the market. For a more detailed look at the car, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...
In This Review
- 1Ford Kuga Hybrid review - currently readingThe full-hybrid version of the Ford Kuga SUV is as practical and good to drive as the rest of the range, but like them, its interior lacks personality and its transmission is a weak point
- 2MPG & CO2 emissionsWhile it isn’t capable of the same pure-electric range or fuel economy as the plug-in hybrid Kuga, the full hybrid still offers better fuel economy and lower emissions than a diesel
- 3Running costsThe latest Kuga comes with an extensive warranty and is also available with a selection of servicing packages from Ford; company-car tax rates are almost as high as a diesel's, though
- 4Engines, drive & performanceThe Kuga is still one of the best family SUVs to drive, with precise steering and good grip, however this full-hybrid version is slightly let down by its CVT transmission
- 5Interior & comfortWhile standard equipment in the Kuga is good, its interior continues to lack the flair or personality it needs to liven it up and keep up with rivals
- 6Practicality & boot spaceWith plenty of interior space and lots of room in the boot, the Kuga is as practical as ever, even with the hybrid powertrain under the bonnet
- 7Reliability & safetyThe Kuga had strong crash-test results, but owner-reported reliability hasn't been perfect