The Hyundai Tucson is comfortable, refined and reliable making it one of the best SUVs on sale. There’s plenty of competition in this segment, however, so we’ve pitted it against two of its biggest rivals – the Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage – with the help of carwow’s resident car expert, Mat Watson.
Hyundai Tucson vs Nissan Qashqai vs Kia Sportage – price
All three brands here traditionally offer buyers great value for money so, unsurprisingly, there’s little to separate the Hyundai, Kia and Nissan. The Tucson costs from £18,695, the Sportage from £18,000 and the Nissan costs from £18,545.
The Kia is fractionally the cheapest of the three, but its industry-leading seven-year warranty gives greater peace of mind than both the Hyundai’s five-year package or the Nissan’s three-year cover.
Hyundai Tucson vs Nissan Qashqai vs Kia Sportage – styling
Buyers in this class are attracted to bold designs with a chunky go-anywhere appearance. The Hyundai gets off to a great start, thanks to its imposing front grille flanked by a pair of slim headlights. Flared wheel arches clad in black plastic add an extra sense of toughness, while the sloping window line adds a sporty element. It’s neat, well-proportioned and gets the thumbs up from us.
The Nissan looks just a little plain in comparison. It’s by no means a bad looking car, but it’s not the sort of car that you’ll give a second glance after you’ve parked it up. For some buyers, however, a car that flies under the radar is exactly what they’ll want. Its heavily sculpted flanks do, however, lend its shape a handsome edge.
The Kia arguably has the greatest star quality of all. The front end, complete with slightly bug-eyed high-set headlights might divide opinion but, from any other angle, it looks very easy on the eye. The back end, with its narrow taillights connected by a contrasting strip at the base of the windscreen, is possibly its best angle.
Hyundai Tucson vs Nissan Qashqai vs Kia Sportage – interior
The Hyundai’s cabin design can’t quite live up to the promise of the exterior, or indeed match the quality of either of its rivals. There are one too many hard plastics in clear view, while the basic design looks a little dated compared to the class leaders. The infotainment system is easy to operate though – the screen is bright and the user interface is slick.
It’s much better than the Nissan’s touchscreen display which, after the Hyundai, looks dim and takes an age to load. The dashboard is well-screwed together and logically laid out, but some might feel that, like the Tucson, it’s a little plain to look at.
The Sportage has the most shapely dashboard of the three. There’s a solid feel to the switchgear and the occasional squidgy plastics, and it gives off the impression of a more expensive product than either of its rivals here. The display screen and its software is shared with the Hyundai and, as a result, is equally as pleasant to use.
Hyundai Tucson vs Nissan Qashqai vs Kia Sportage – practicality
The Tucson’s 513-litre boot is class-leading in size. It’s all the more impressive considering it’s the only car here that houses a full-size spare wheel. The cabin is just as accommodating, with plenty of leg and headroom in the back, while each of the four doors house deep storage bins.
The Qashqai is a little smaller than the Tucson on the outside, and that can be felt inside the cabin. Legroom is generous, but those over six-feet tall might find their heads brushing against the roof lining. The 430-litre boot lags some way behind the Hyundai too, though it’s still comfortably bigger than most standard family hatchbacks – Volkswagen Golf included. The door bins are pretty small, though.
The Kia achieves a similar level of practicality to the Hyundai, with rear seat space an almost identical match, and a boot offering a negligible 10-litre drop in total volume. It, like the Hyundai, also benefits from rear doors that open wide, allowing child seats to be installed more easily than in the Nissan.
Hyundai Tucson vs Nissan Qashqai vs Kia Sportage – driving
Out on the road, it’s clear the Tucson has prioritised comfort over sportiness. This isn’t the place to come for any sort of driving enjoyment, but those who prefer to take things easy will get along well with its soft and forgiving ride.
The Nissan feels much tighter and more precise than the Hyundai from behind the wheel, without sacrificing anything in terms of comfort. It remains primarily setup to pamper rather than thrill but, on the road, the body resists roll better than the Hyundai and the brakes feel more positive. The only minor downside to the driving experience is that those oversized door mirrors generate a little too much wind noise at speed.
Peel away the bodywork of the Kia Sportage and you’ll discover the same chassis that underpins the Hyundai Tucson. It’d be easy to assume that the pair feel pretty much identical on the road, but Kia has tuned the suspension to its own settings, resulting in a mildly firmer setup. It isn’t drastically different, but it’s enough to help the Kia feel more tautly controlled body through the bends if slightly less comfortable overall.
Hyundai Tucson vs Nissan Qashqai vs Kia Sportage – engines
It isn’t just the chassis that the Hyundai and Kia share – their engine lineup is also pretty much identical. Each range is kicked off by a 1.6-litre petrol, while a pair of diesels – a 1.7 and a 2.0-litre – are each offered in two power outputs.
The bigger diesels are paired with a four-wheel-drive system, while the rest of the range sends power to the front wheels only. The 1.7-litre unit on test is claimed to achieve a little more than 61mpg in each – we managed a reasonable 45mpg. It does sound a little noisy, however.
The 1.5-litre diesel thst makes up the bulk of Qashqai sales is the pick of the range. Unless you really need the extra torque provided by the larger 1.6 diesel, this is the sweeter, smoother unit. It’s quieter than the Kia and Hyundai, and should be around 4mpg more frugal in the real word, too.
Hyundai Tucson vs Nissan Qashqai vs Kia Sportage – verdict
This is a close run contest but, in this instance, it’s the Hyundai that has to bring up the rear. It’s very comfortable and practical, but the sub-par dashboard and average driving experience let the side down.
The Nissan has long been a favourite of ours, winning our Car of the Year award two years running. It’s sensible, easy to drive and well built, while the diesel engine is the smoothest and most frugal here. A slightly ageing cabin and mediocre infotainment system are starting to weigh on the Qashqai’s success, however.
In the end, however, it’s the Kia that wins out. Not only is it the most eye-catching design here, but its bargain pricing and competitive warranty is too hard to ignore in a class where the sensible stuff takes priority.
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