2009 Ford Kuga 2.5

While Ford of Europe fans are no doubt excited about the new Focus RS, the platform underpinning that hot hatch also serves as the basis of another highly-regarded model, the new Kuga CUV. Introduced earlier this year, the Kuga was praised for its "kinetic design" styling, driving dynamics, and high quality interior, yet there was one department where it was wanting - power. Available with just a 2.0L four-cylinder diesel, while this engine averages 36.7mpg while putting out 136-hp and 236 lb-ft of torque, the drive hauler's 10.7-sec 0 - 62mph time won't win any races. So for buyers who prefer a little more get-up-and-go, Ford is introducing a new Kuga variant, the 2.5.

While the 2009 Ford Kuga 2.5 comes with the same Haldex all-wheel drive system and standard 6-speed manual gearbox as the diesel, under the hood Ford has installed a turbo 2.5L Duratec five-cylinder gas engine sourced from Volvo. Good for approximately 198-hp and 236 lb-ft of torque, this powertrain makes the Kuga considerably faster while still averaging 23mpg. In addition the Kuga 2.5 is available with an optional Durashift 5-speed automatic, which includes a manual-shift capability and sport mode that speeds up reaction times for more spirited performance.

The Kuga 2.5 in Paris is also a showcase for the CUV's new optional body kit, consisting of a new front grille with vertical bars instead of horizontal ones, a chrome-lined lower air intake with two broad chrome "scoops" on its sides, a rear spoiler, body-color wheel arch extensions, and 50mm lower bumpers and skid plates. A new set of 20-in. alloy wheels are available as well. Inside Ford is also adding a high-end interior option, which includes two-tone leather seating and high gloss "Piano White" finish on the trim. European families looking for a CUV with more speed and style can pick up a Kuga 2.5 beginning in January 2009.