faster, further, ford
Some questions in life are easy to answer: Would you like to eat this entire tub of peanut butter by yourself? Would you like a day off? Would you like a brand-spankin’ new Ford Kuga to drive around town for the next few days?
When I was asked the latter, I didn’t have to think very hard (read: at all) before saying yes. I’ve only ever owned sedans - mostly because my ability to park cars could, you know, do with a little improvement - so I’ve always chosen to err on the side of caution and stick to smaller vehicles. That said; I’ve wanted an SUV for as long as I can remember.
The morning my Ford Kuga was due for delivery to me, I paced the length of my house excitedly, waiting for it to arrive. My partner had a day off work, so we’d made plans to take the SUV for a trek to the beautiful Yarra Valley and lunch at one of the region’s wineries. I couldn’t wait for us to be on our way!
When the vehicle arrived, I flung open the front door and ran out to greet the Ford team member before she’d even had the chance to finish parking. Probably able to sense my eagerness, she offered to show me some of the vehicle’s features, to which I gratefully accepted. See, I’m not well versed in car-language. If you tell me that a car has got a five-star ANCAP Safety Rating and Adaptive Cruise Control (both of which the Ford Kuga has), I might be able to correctly guess whether or not those features are good, but I won’t understand how the features benefit me. The best way to influence my opinion? Show me.
Hand-Free Power Tailgate
The first feature I was shown me was the hand-free power tailgate. Or, in Mandy language, if your sweep your foot underneath the back of the car, the boot will open all the way up, all by itself. In short: Hands-free boot-opening!
“That would have been so useful when I had my food businesses!” I exclaimed. Back when I made and delivered food around town, I often struggled with large boxes. I often had to balance things on my hip or one knee while I pressed buttons and tried to open – then lift – the boot of my car with one hand. This would have made my life so much easier!
Smart Keyless Entry and Push Button Start
Next, I was shown the smart keyless entry.
In Mandy-language, this means that, as long as your keys are on your person or in your handbag, you’ll be able to open the driver’s seat door, get in, press the Start/Stop button* to ignite the engine, and then immediately drive away!
A feature like this is so perfect for people like me. I often do this thing where I get into my car and dump all of my belongings (keys included) onto the passenger’s seat. When I’m ready to drive, I then have to sift through everything on the seat before I locate my keys and am able to drive away. The smart keyless entry means I’d be able to drive away without first having to locate my keys, knowing that my keys are somewhere on or near me. Boom.
*The “Start/Stop button” is Mandy-language for Push Button Start.
Large Colour Touch Screen with Voice Control
Next, the Ford team member pointed out the dashboard’s large touch screen, which was divided into four quadrants: a wide-angle reverse camera, built-in satellite navigation, a screen dedicated to Bluetooth phone connection, and a screen devoted to music.
(In today’s Smartphone-savvy world, anything with a large touch screen gets a thumb’s up from me; when it’s in colour, it gets two thumbs’ up, amiright?)
To up the ante even further, all of its features – and then some – are subject to voice control. Just by talking aloud to the car, you can play music, have text messages read to you, receive traffic and travel information, and navigate your route. For people who constantly use the GPS on their phone while they’re driving (I’m guilty), this is perfect!
Blind Spot Information System (BLIS)
The Ford team member left us after that, and we began to make our way to the Yarra Valley. I sat in the passenger’s seat and marvelled at the comfortable leather seats, leather steering wheel and roominess while my boyfriend drove. Suddenly, he exclaimed, “Babe! Guess what! This car tells you when there’s something in your blind spot!”
He told me to watch his side mirror. Sure enough, whenever a vehicle was positioned in his blind spot, a bright light flashed to warn him. We were impressed. Anything that serves to increase safety gets a big thumb’s up from us.
Active City Stop and Adaptive Cruise Control
I’m not much of a cruise control-user, but the boyfie is. He set the speed to 80kmph as we cruised down the highway, and then suddenly yelped, “Babe, look! It actually slows down when the car in front of us slows down, then automatically speeds up again!”
It turns out that, when you’re travelling at low speeds (40kmph or less), the Ford Kuga can detect if a hazard is ahead and will apply the brakes for you if you don’t react quickly enough. This feature is called active city stop.
Similarly, if you’re on cruise control and there’s a hazard detected ahead, it will automatically reduce your speed until the hazard is out of the way. It will then return to your set speed, all by itself. Clever! The boyfriend was suitably impressed.
This gave us a little scare at first. We started to notice that, every time we stopped at a red light or were idle, the car’s engine would switch itself off. As soon as we had the green light to go, though, all we had to do was release the brake and it’d restart again.
This very thoughtful stop start feature of the Kuga serves to save fuel (more on that later) and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Loves it!
Auto Headlamps, Rain-Sensing Wipers and Dual Zone Climate Control
We chose a pretty miserable day to head to the Yarra Valley. Halfway there, the sky went grey and it started raining. Coincidentally, this is how we discovered the vehicle’s auto headlamps and rain-sensing wiper functions.
We also discovered the dual zone climate control feature by chance. I’m always cold, whilst my boyfriend is always warm. We’re always struggling to meet on common ground when we’re in the car together because I always want to turn the heater on, but he always wants to wind a window down or turn on the air conditioner. That day, as I went to turn on the heater, I noticed that the temperature displayed on his side of the car was different to the temperature displayed on mine. It turns out that the dual zone climate control function enables the climates surrounding the passenger’s and driver’s seats to be adjusted entirely independently of each other. Seriously amazing stuff!
We enjoyed a wonderfully delicious lunch at Meletos. The boyfie overate so he napped in the back seat of the car for an hour (which goes to show how roomy the Kuga is).
When we got home, we decided to give the assisted parking function a go. Remember how I said my ability to park cars could do with some improvement? Well, this is the solution. With a push of one button, the Ford Kuga detects available parallel parking spots, then instructs you when to put the car into reverse, when to let go of the steering wheel and when to put the car into drive – all the while moving and parking itself perfectly. It’s jaw-droppingly remarkable. You need to see it to believe it.
Over the next few days, I noticed a few other features that earned the Kuga extra brownie points. First of all, for such a powerful and generously-sized vehicle, the Kuga is surprisingly fuel-efficient! I took the car for long treks every single day – to the mountains, to the city, and everywhere in between – but I didn’t consume even half a tank of fuel! Ford describes its ecoBoost engine technology as “small engine fuel economy and big engine power in one” – and it’s true!
I also discovered the lane keeping aid. Whenever you drift out of your lane, the steering wheel vibrates and an alert appears in your instrument panel to inform you! I don’t know why, but I find safety features like this so cool.
I never thought I’d write a blog post about an automobile, let alone such a looong one. But, I’d never been offered the opportunity to drive a brand-new SUV before! And now that I’ve taken the Ford Kuga for a spin, I’m sold. I told the folk at Ford that they could keep my car if they’d let me keep the Kuga, but they laughed. I think they thought I was joking.
(Guys, if you’re reading this: I wasn’t joking. I'll take one in red, please. Kthnxbye).