While the entry-level Ambiente model retains the SYNC1 system but gains a DAB+ digital radio, the mid-spec Trend and range-topping Titanium step up to SYNC2 with a new eight-inch infotainment screen (previously five-inch on Titanium).
The Trend also scores standard satellite navigation, which is already standard in the Titanium.
Ford’s SYNC system can be used to control entertainment, phone and navigation systems, while SYNC2 adds voice control for the radio, Traffic Message Channel and more.
While announcing the 2016 improvements, Ford has stepped up its attack on the Toyota RAV4 by claiming that the Kuga now offers “ten advanced technologies” not found in Toyota’s midsized SUV offering.
Such technologies include an automatic start-stop system to maximise fuel economy along with a cap-less refuelling system, autonomous emergency braking at city speeds, emergency assist following a collision and WiFi hotspot.
The list also includes Ford’s AdvanceTrac anti-roll control, an active grille shutter to maximise engine temperature efficiency, tyre pressure monitoring, adaptive cruise control and the hands-free powered tailgate (operated using a ‘swiping’ foot movement - standard on Titanium, optional on Trend).
Titanium models offer a panoramic sunroof as before, but the roof can now be opened using the key fob. The roof has been redesigned for better airflow, and the Kuga gets revised air vents for 2016.
Ford also reminds buyers that some Kuga petrol models offer more power than the 2.5 litre petrol-powered Toyota RAV4’s 132kW, with some also offering a better average fuel figure.
Powerplant options are a mixed bag for the Kuga, ranging from 110kW/240Nm for the only manual variant to 134kW/240Nm and up to 178kW/345Nm for petrol models.
The lower-spec engines are 1.5 litre EcoBoost units fitted to the Ambiente, while the 178kW engine is a 2.0 litre unit fitted to Trend and Titanium AWD models.
Kuga Trend and Titanium models can also be optioned with a 2.0 litre turbo-diesel engine producing 132kW/400Nm.
New paint options for 2016 include Shadow Black, which replaces Panther Black, and the new premium Mica Green Instinct; which replaces Ginger Ale. Magnetic, Frozen White, Deep Impact Blue, Ruby Red, Tiger Eye, Moondust Silver and Race Red are also available.
While Ford customers will no doubt welcome the upgrades, the Kuga may need to add even more feathers to its cap if it’s to top the RAV4 in sales. The Kuga notched up 351 deliveries last month against the RAV4’s 1684.
The 2016 Ford Kuga goes on sale in December, with prices starting from $27,990 plus on-road costs. Prices have risen from between $200 and $500 across the range.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
2016 FORD KUGA
- Ambiente FWD Manual $27,990 (+$500)
- Ambiente FWD Auto $29,490 (+$500)
- Ambiente AWD Auto $31,990 (+$500)
- Trend EcoBoost $36,890 (+$400)
- Trend Diesel $38,890 (+$400)
- Titanium EcoBoost $45,190 (+$200)
- Titanium Diesel $47,190 (+$200)
Note: All Trend and Titanium models are AWD / Auto