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[Behind the Wheel] New Ford Kuga SUV good, but not great

Ford Korea recently released its latest SUV model, the 2017 Ford Kuga. And while the compact SUV is a perfectly decent vehicle, it nevertheless lacks that special factor that makes shelling out nearly 40 million won ($35,300) seem like a worthwhile decision.

Earlier this month, members of the media were given the opportunity to take the new Ford Kuga out for a spin on the winding, multi-terrain streets and back-alleys of Paju, Gyeonggi Province.

The 2017 Kuga offers a more spacious interior and a more expansive, unobstructed panorama sunroof compared to previous models, but it falls short in terms of delivering features that go the extra mile.

Reporters try out the 2017 Ford Kuga SUV during a media drive event in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, earlier this month. (Ford Korea)
Reporters try out the 2017 Ford Kuga SUV during a media drive event in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, earlier this month. (Ford Korea)

The diesel, all-wheel-drive SUV is equipped with the Duratorq 2.0 TDCi engine and achieves a decent 12.4 kilometers per liter on average. Ford also tried to bump up the Kuga’s fuel efficiency.

One of the biggest advantages the new Ford Kuga brings to the table is its auto start-stop system, which not only helps save fuel, but also reduces exhaust emissions by about 5 to 10 percent.

When stopping at a traffic light, the Kuga’s engine automatically shuts down to conserve fuel. When it is time to go, drivers do not need to restart the vehicle, they just simply have to step on the gas as normal for the engine to restart automatically.

The interior of the new 2017 Ford Kuga SUV (Ford Korea)
The interior of the new 2017 Ford Kuga SUV (Ford Korea)

In terms of the vehicle’s entertainment and new media features, while it is equipped with Sony speakers and the latest SYNC-3 touch-screen infotainment system, the Kuga still seems to lag behind others.

Upon first glance at the front console, there appeared to be no USB port where one can charge a smartphone. On closer examination, it even seems as though the auto giant did not consider one of the most standard expectations of drivers these days -- being able to charge and sync their phones on the road.

Fortunately, it turns out that Ford only hid the USB port -- one must open up the central console’s lid to find the single USB port at the bottom. Regardless of its odd placement, at least Ford has finally added this to the Kuga.

The new Ford Kuga comes in two trims -- trend and titanium -- and has a starting price of 39.9 million won.

The Korea Herald rating (out of 5 stars):

Design: 3 stars
Safety: 3 stars
Gas Mileage: 3 stars
Price: 3 stars

Overall: 12/20

By Julie Jackson (juliejackson@heraldcorp.com)
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