Recently Ford Australia launched the Ford Kuga. It’s a small SUV that’s been available in other parts of the world for four years now. It will also be superseded in 2013. So is it worth the $38,490 price tag? We drove it to find out.

Before you even jump into the Ford Kuga, there are three very big deals that will make you quite nervous to part with your hard earned. Firstly, the fact that the recently released Kuga has been around in Europe for the better part of four years. A lot happens in motoring in four years, so it is safe to assume you’ll be greeted by a dated interior.

Secondly, the new Ford Kuga won’t suffer from the launch-lag that this model does, meaning it will be out next year. That’s a pretty big issue if you are thinking of buying this one. It will only be current for a year if you’re lucky.

Finally, there’s the price. At $38,490 drive away for the base model, and $43,990 drive away for the upper Titanium model that we drove, it’s about as competitive as Sam Stosur at the Australian Open. Not a tennis fan? Try Felipe Massa in the 2012 F1 World Championship. Still no? OK, then the Greater Western Sydney AFL team.Still thinking about walking away from a Ford dealership with a new (or should that be old?) Kuga? Well, thankfully, the issues stop there. One of the reasons the Ford Kuga took so long to get to Australia was its popularity in Europe. Ford kept fulfilling demand there and ignoring the requests for the model here. And it’s not a surprise it is popular there.

The Kuga is a small SUV, perfect for families with young children or active individuals with a bit of an energetic streak. The rear seats will only just fit two adults and the boot space isn’t the biggest in the world but it’s more than appropriate for a weekend away with skis or for taking Jack and Jill who are both under 12 to the beach or on holidays for a long weekend. The rear tailgate makes it even easier to throw things into the car as you can open a hatch in the boot rather than the whole boot.It won’t be a dull drive getting there either. Thanks to the 2.5 litre Duratec turbo petrol engine and 5-speed automatic Durashift 5-tronic with sport and manual modes, the car is surprisingly perky and rarely runs out of grunt. Not surprising – it’s the same Volvo sourced engine that you can find in the XR5 Turbo. While the steering can be a little light at times (but not often, to be fair), you feel firmly planted to the road and there is little chassis roll despite the height of the vehicle.

You will pay for it, literally though, with fuel consumption being rated at 10.3 litres to 100 kilometres, by no means green or cheap. Ford also recommends you use the good stuff rather than E10.

If you’re more about what’s in the cabin than what’s under the bonnet, the story may seem like one you’ve read before. If you’ve ever driven in a Ford Focus (the previous generation) or the current Ford Mondeo, both of which are quite long in the tooth now, the Kuga will seem familiar. It shares the same type of design with black plastics met by silvers and no sign of built-in sat nav or a colour display of any sort. While our Titanium model got Bluetooth, heated seats, dual climate control and a panoramic roof (that’s not a sunroof, by the way), you’re made to make do with a third party sat-nav and parking sensors that beeped rather than a rear vision camera. The sensors were slightly too well tuned. The beep went psycho when you still had up to a metre left before disaster. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.Other things you should know about? The seats are pretty damn comfortable leather and very supportive. The wheels are pretty swish 17 or 18-inch alloys, depending on the model you get, there’s also voice control and the car comes with a  five-star ANCAP rating. It’s all-wheel drive on both models as well.

So, would we buy one after all that? The answer is simply ‘no’. And it’s certainly not because of the drive or the slightly dated interior. The latter we can definitely put up with, it’s still quite nice. Cars are rarely a good investment, and with a new model coming out so soon, this one is far from positive. The price as well, while not astronomical, isn’t where it should be for a car with a short life span. You can pick up a Subaru Forestor X Limited Edition from $34,874 drive away. That, to us, is a much better deal. It’s a shame, because we really do like this car. If a new model wasn’t coming out quite so soon we would almost think about putting the money down. On a positive note, not long to wait for the new one.
Price: From $38,490 drive away
Web: Ford