These SUVs are among the best-sellers in the UK this year. Which is better?
If there’s one key indicator of just how successful these two brands have become, then the sales of the Kia Sportage and the Hyundai Tucson tell a big part of the story.
Based on the latest new-car registration data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Kia has sold 18,206 Sportages in 2022 up to the end of July, making it the fifth most popular car in the UK. Sitting just behind in sixth, on 17,173 units, is the Tucson. Both are currently more popular with buyers than anything Volkswagen produces, including the Golf.
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Of the four match-ups that we’ve assembled here, the Tucson and the Sportage are the most similar, at least under the skin. The fifth-generation Sportage and the Mk4 Tucson both use the same Hyundai-Kia N3 platform, both use MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link suspension arrangement at the back, too.
Both offer similar petrol engines, all of which are based around a 1.6-litre turbocharged unit, but the Sportage is also available with a mild-hybrid diesel option that produces a hefty 320Nm of torque.
The petrols get various degrees of hybrid assistance, ranging from none at all to a plug-in arrangement. The entry-level 148bhp version can be chosen as a standard combustion model, or a 48-volt mild-hybrid. Above those are the full-hybrid cars we have here; they can cover short distances on electric power alone and, at 226bhp, they make more power than the MHEV models. The PHEV increases that figure to 261bhp, and can cover around 38 miles on a charge.
From a driving point of view, there’s not much in it. The Sportage has lighter controls, so at lower speeds it’s slightly easier to move around. Conversely, the Tucson feels brilliantly stable and solid at high speeds. Both are more focused on comfort, but the Tucson is a little softer, something that we prefer from an SUV like this.
The engines can sound a little coarse under hard acceleration, but the integration of the hybrid systems means that you don’t need to explore their limits too often anyway. The transition between petrol and electric propulsion is also smooth.
The differences are mainly cosmetic. The Tucson’s dramatic front end employs a near-solid bank of LED lights that makes it look like nothing else on the road. The same can be said for the Sportage, which features a wide grille that’s flanked by some angular headlights.
Inside, the Kia is inspired by the EV6, with a wraparound dash giving a sporty alternative to the Hyundai’s sturdy-looking design. There’s little to separate the two for space; rear kneeroom in the Tucson is very slightly better because the backs of the front seats are a little more sculpted inwards. In the boot, it’s 616 litres versus 587, in the Hyundai’s favour.
Across most of the range with the most closely matched trims, the Tucson slightly undercuts the Sportage for monthly PCP figures at first glance. The top-spec Tucson Ultimate with a hybrid powertrain costs £535 per month when you place a £4,000 deposit on a three-year agreement with a 10,000-mile annual limit. When powered by the same hybrid set-up, the Sportage GT-Line S is priced from £573 per month.
But those numbers are closer in reality, because the Kia has a little more standard driver-assistance kit. For instance, the Remote Park assist, which can drive the car out of a tight parking spot from the outside using the key, is included on the Sportage, but is part of a £1,500 Tech Pack with the Tucson.
First place: Hyundai Tucson
Of all the matches we’ve made here, this is the closest. The Hyundai takes the win for the smallest of reasons: it’s very slightly more comfortable than the Sportage, the boot is a touch larger, and if you don’t feel the need to tick every option box, it’s slightly cheaper on a monthly finance deal, too.
Second place: Kia Sportage
While the Sportage takes second, it still has all of the Tucson’s strengths to a very narrow degree. It’s practical, great to drive, and has a cracking warranty. We’d let your choice come down to three things: which car is available first, which dealer offers the best deal and which one’s looks you prefer.
Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDi HEV GT-Line S
Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDi Hybrid Ultimate
On the road price
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)
Annual tax liability std/higher rate
Insurace group/quote/road tax cost
£589 (3 years)
£602 (3 years)
Fuel tank capacity
Boot capacity (seats up/down)
Basic warranty (miles)
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.
7.7 secs (0-60mph)
8.0 secs (0-62mph)
Claimed CO2/tax bracket
Now read our twin test of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6…
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