It's not a car that we often think about, but the Ford Kuga has returned for another generation. Formerly wearing the Escape nameplate in many markets (including our own), the Kuga was a step forward for the model that introduced a number of features. This all-new Kuga goes even further, embracing electrification with a range of mild-hybrid to full-hybrid, to plug-in hybrid powertrain options. It sits on the new Ford C2 platform, making it both 10% stiffer and 90 kilograms lighter than the outgoing model.
The focus for the new model is Europe, as during its tenure it was the best selling SUV in the region, and the third best selling Ford model to boot. 19 percent of all Ford sales in 2018 came from the Kuga, which is no mean feat considering many parts of the world prioritize other models over SUVs. Since 2008, more than 1 million Kugas have been sold across three generations of the model since its introduction to the region.
We'll start with the more obvious changes. The Kuga is now 44 mm longer wider and 89 mm longer, with a wheelbase that's 20 mm longer. The overall height has dropped by 20 mm for a sportier look as well, but overall interior space has grown by a noticeable margin. There's a best-in-class rear legroom of 1,035 mm, and a remote release for the second row of seats for better convenience when folding flat.
The features are the standout elements of the new Kuga. Front and centre is a 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster for the driver that offers a range of information, complemented by an 8-inch touch screen that functions as the entertainment head unit. B&O provides the sound system for the car, with a 575-watt 10 speaker setup for crisp sound reproduction. Hands free access for the rear boot, as we already have, makes a return for an added breadth of convenience. Phone connectivity is provided for both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
In terms of active safety, there are many technologies that Ford is implementing to provide drivers with confidence behind the wheel. Ford Co-Pilot360 is the umbrella under which these features fall, with a new Lane-Keeping System with Blind Spot Assist making its debut. Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection has been upgraded to recognize intersections as well. Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go and Speed Sign Recognition and Lane Centering all work together to provide a semi-autonomous driving experience. There's even an Evasive Steering Assist function to help guide drivers out of trouble if it presents itself.
The powertrains are where things become a little confusing, as there are so many. The hybrid and plug-in hybrid models use the same 2.5-litre Atkinson Cycle 4-cylidner engine. Combine power stands at 225 PS and all-electric driving range is up to 50 km according to WLTP test standards for the plug-in hybrid variant. A full charge with a 230 volt supply will take just 4 hours to charge the plug-in hybrid variant.
There's also the EcoBlue Hybrid variant, which is more a mild-hybrid system than anything, with a 150 PS 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engine paired with a belt-drive integrated starter/generator (BISG). Torque assistance from the small motor helps to fill in the gaps where the diesel engine is a little laggy, and of course operates on a common 48-volt electrical system.
In addition to the hybrids, there is also a regular EcoBlue model that packs a 190 PS version of the 2.0-litre EcoBlue engine, as well as a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine that offers between 120 PS and 150 PS depending on the state of tune. The EcoBoost models have cylinder deactivation as well for better fuel economy when you're not using all of that power. All-wheel drive and a new 8-speed automatic transmission feature on some of the variants as well, though Ford didn't go into specifics.
We're not sure if we'll see this new Kuga coming to our market given Ford's paring down of the range, but if it does we can expect the 150 PS variant of the EcoBoost engine as it's a powertrain that is best suited to our conditions and the expectations of customers.