Kuga Fords family divide

Iain Dooley, PA senior motoring writer, looks at Ford's Kuga sport utility vehicle.

Engines – Both petrol and diesel engines are available for the Kuga, although like so many other SUVs it's the latter that offers the best mix of performance and economy. Furthermore, if you tow or go off-road diesel power will impress. The petrol alternative is quieter but not as economical.

Exterior – The Kuga's chunky exterior is a bold look, and does much to promote the go-anywhere image of these lifestyle SUVs. A tall car, it's got plenty of road presence yet doesn't possess the unappealing aggressive stance of some of its rivals.

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Interior – Ford fans will feel at home inside the Kuga. There's plenty of familiar switchgear and the cabin's quality ambience is another pleasing Ford trait. There's plenty of room for a growing family, although the trim materials might prove too posh for muddy adventures.

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Driving – With the choice of all-wheel drive and, more recently, front-wheel drive variants, there's something for everyone. If you'll never tow or go off-road, the latter offers slightly reduced running costs. If you want a solid all-rounder the all-wheel drive Kuga will be the safer bet. Crucially, whichever model you choose, the Kuga impresses with its car-like handling and refinement.

Ownership – A sturdy car capable of crossing modestly-challenging terrain, the Kuga is easy to drive and its dimensions are such that it never poses a problem in town. Parking is straightforward and, in diesel form, running costs ensible.

What to look for – Being an off-roader – even if it's a 'soft-roader' – look carefully for signs of damage from any over-enthusiastic driving. And being a relatively new car, there's no excuse for missing service records. Finally, with the Kuga a popular urban runabout, check for evidence of kerbed wheels as repairing any unseen damage could prove costly.

Model history – 2008, Ford launches its SUV, the Kuga. A mid-size model to compete in the crowded 'soft-roader' market, Ford offered the car with a modest choice of petrol and diesel engines. A front-wheel drive variant was introduced later. Good levels of standard kit and moderate running costs thanks in part to frugal diesel engine option.

Reasons to buy – Sensible running costs, two-wheel drive option, good to drive, looks, well equipped.

Reasons to beware – Not a full-on 4x4, thirsty petrol option.

Pick of the range – Kuga 2.0 TDCi Zetec.

What to pay – 2008 08 �14,425; 2008 58 �14,925; 2009 09 �15,980; 2009 59 �16,075; 2010 10 �17,950; 2011 11 �20,125. Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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