The Ford Kuga has been a strong effort from Ford in the SUV marketplace and its success no doubt influenced the introduction of its bigger brother, the Edge, here in the UK. However, the Kuga has been left in the cold in terms of Ford’s new family face that has been applied to all of its stable mates. That is no longer the case as this 2017 Ford Kuga receives a raft of mid-life updates, including the trapezoid grill. We headed to Norway to see if this newly introduced ST-Line model can fight for the title in an increasingly overpopulated space.
In addition to the blunt nose, this 2017 Ford Kuga receives a reworked front and rear bumper, altered headlights, and some subtle creases to the bonnet. In ST-Lim trim the ride hight has been lowered by 10mm and black detailing has been added to our rather serious looking metallic grey test car. Out here in the icy snow its bold character sets it apart from lesser Kuga. Proportionally it works and maybe a better fit for those who criticise the Edge for being too large.
The biggest news in terms of interior is the introduction of a Sync 3 touchscreen infotainment system. Sync 2 brought plenty of new features to the party but wasn’t the most ergonomic system. It is fair to say that Sync 3 with its more user friendly focus and responsive screen is a step in the right direction. Take a seat in one of the ST-Line’s half leather front perches and you feel fins them supportive in all of the right places. The reworked centre console is more premium and in our car hosted a very welcome dual zone climate control unit. Rear occupants receive good levels of head and leg room, but also seats capable of reclining. There is a small transmission hump in the floor, but not enough to greatly obscure the middle passenger space. A usable 456 litres of boot space grows to a practical 1,603 litres with the rear seats folded flat. Hands full? You can have this car with a hands-free tailgate that opens electrically with a wave of your foot under the rear bumper.
This specific 2017 Ford Kuga is powered by a 178 BHP 2.0 litre diesel engine. Out here in the Arctic circle the two most important elements of our test car is that it generates 400Nm of torque and that it has Ford’s intelligent all wheel drive. It is a strong engine, as has been proven in other models, and its mechanical shove gets this SUV up to speed nicely. A smooth operating 6 speed manual transmission offers a good selection of ratios. Obviously in these literal arctic conditions driving impressions are limited until we drive the car back home in the UK, but it was clear to see that it has some keen handling credentials. As well as the lowered ride hight, ST-Line also receives thicker anti-roll bars and sharper steering. It appeared resistant to body roll which bodes well for its time on twisting country roads. Driving the new 2017 Ford Kuga in the challenging conditions of snow and ice revealed a strong sense of security. As power is shuffled between the wheels, traction is always available. Refinement was also pleasing as the diesel engine fades into the background once up to speed and road noise is well suppressed. At higher speeds there is a little bit of wind noise from the wing mirrors, but nothing to really write home about.
366km through the Arctic Circle and we arrived at our final destination safe, warm, and relatively fresh. The Ford Kuga has always been a strong offering from the blue oval, and it is already clear that the changes for this model year keep it competitive and relevant. The introduction of ST-Line is a smart move and I think there will be plenty of buyers who desire a slightly sportier edge to their SUV. You can have the new 2017 Kuga from £20,845.