Kia Sportage – Hyundai Tucson (ix35) mini-review



  • Hyundai Tucson II (hereinafter LM). Shown as a pre-release concept ix-onic in March 2009, production started in the fall of 2009. Next generation in middle of 2015. At Europe and post-soviet markets known as “ix35”.
  • Kia Sportage III (hereinafter SL). Launched in spring of 2010. New generation introduced in 2015. 


For serial korean car at 2009 LM was a breakthrough (especially against the background of predecessors). Although the actual participation of koreans was limited – a car was fashioned by Hyundai’s Rüsselsheim studio under the direction of Thomas Bürkle (chief designer of BMW’s at first half of the 2000s). The exterior was rather nice and successfully fit in the new corporate identity of Hyundai.

But appearance of SL showed that Hyundai still was conservative. Peter Schreyer (chief designer of VW-Audi in the 1990s), went even further, so that all the time of production the car remains the most “design” in the class. Compared to LM, which is seen from all angles as conventional compact SUV, SL is ambiguous – very impressive front, a disproportionate massive profile, low stern of hatch…

Of course, the design caused serious damage to the functionality – visibility, entry and exit convenience, comfort of the rear passengers (not surprising – in comparison with the previous generation body is lower by 60 mm).

Unusual appearance unwittingly creates high expectations, so the further acquaintance causes some disappointment comes from the understanding that too much effort has gone exactly to the wrapper.



It is surprising, but among asian classmates SL / LM saloons stand out most for the better. No sophisticated decisions, identity is guessed. The main drawback – a grim dark gamma, and if LM has at least silver inserts, the interior of the SL seems monotonous or extremely moody (in black) or defiant “cheap” (in the gray). More appropriate in the autopsy room blue backlight of LM is controversial, so even restless red lights in SL seem more comfortable.

The quality of materials – some above Toyota and Subaru. This applies to plastic and to fabric upholstery – it is not looks like removed from discarded office chairs (as in Toyota). With regard to the comparison of the two models, in LM the squareness of hard plastic are is more, but in SL sad insert in the middle of the panel spoils everything. Assembling and fastening quality does not cause problems, if less vibrations was transmitted from the road surface. Known efforts of door closing – it seems that harder “double rubber seals” today is not found.




Driver . The seat in SL rises only slightly greater than in Forester S12, in LM – a couple centimetres higher. Longitudinal adjustment stroke is normal, overhead space with seat lifted – minimal accepted, the headrest tilt is adjusted slightly. The cushion in SL has “asian” length, strange defect of lift lever went into folklore, central armrest cover does not move. Steering an inexpensive leather-like cover adjusted in two directions and does not interfere to laps. The shape of doorway makes to “sit” in the car, not allowing to carefree “entry and exit”. Windows line – at least in SL is too high. Some strange seems the on-floor accelerator pedal, oversized central console and useless tangle struts of console in LM. In general, there is not that feeling of quality and space, which is present even in closely related and not premium Sorento / SantaFe.

Rear passengers . Entry-exit is complicated due to falling roofline, the shape of the doorway is better in SL. The seat height is insufficient, longitudinal space – average in LM and normal in SL, vertical space – below norm. It is not too comfortable here – low doorway, high windows line, hard plastic trim of front backrest rear side… But the main trouble – hard seats with almost a right angle between the seat cushion and backrest, suitable for people with perfect posture and short trips. But do not search button or cord of reclining backrest – the rear seats are completely non-adjustable (huge drawback).



Visibility was jointly sacrificed by both chief designer, but Schreyer was more radical.

Front hemisphere. The traditional claim to the front pillars in reaches its climax – its thickness divided by the sinus of inclination angle, and augmented with design curves, hides as pedestrians and full-size cars at crossings. And no sense to talk of security – almost all modern SUVs have curtains in the pillars and a five-star EuroNCAP, but they most of them also let the driver to see traffic situation. In addition, SL was one of the few cars where the salon mirror actually prevents the front visibility.

Rear hemisphere. SL driver has no other options, except exterior mirrors and parking sensors (though to compensate the effects of Schreyer’s creativeness, BLIS and 360-view cameras are needed). LM, despite more functional rear window and glass inserts in the rear rear pillars, is a little better. By and large, for every-day mass cars such visibility neglect in favour of design is unacceptable.



Volumes are normal for compact SUV (LM some bigger), the geometry is normal), the rear seats are folding separately, under the floor – a full spare wheel and a lot of space for a variety of small belongings. Four wheel test without seat folding – cars does not pass.

Claims to the rear door is similar to Forester S12 – its adjustment allows to choose between the parameters of “not closed” and “knock at unevens”. And, of course, it is not necessary to open door when body is twisted on unevens.




Engine Displacement, cm3 Bore x Stroke, mm Compression ratio Output, hp Torque, Nm Configuration Family
D4FD 1685 77.2 x 90.0 17.0 114/4000 260/1250-2750 CRDI U II
D4HA 1995 84.0 x 90.0 16.5 134/4000 320/1800-2500 CRDI LP R
D4HA 1995 84.0 x 90.0 16.0 181/4000 392/1800-2500 CRDI R
G4FD 1591 77.0 x 85.4 11.0 133/6300 165/4850 D-CVVT + GDI Gamma
G4KD 1998 86.0 x 86.0 10.5 161/6200 194/4600 D-CVVT Theta II
G4KD 1998 86.0 x 86.0 10.5 165/6200* 198/4600 D-CVVT Theta II
G4KH 1998 86.0 x 86.0 9.5 260/6000 364/1850-3000 T-GDI Theta II
G4NA 1999 81.0 x 97.0 10.3 164/6500 201/4800 D-CVVT Nu
G4KE 2359 88.0 x 97.0 10.5 170/6000 221/4000 D-CVVT Theta II
G4KE 2359 88.0 x 97.0 11.0 176/6000 228/4000 D-CVVT Theta II


In the second half of the 2000s a pair of HMC SUVs (Tucson I / Sportage II) took its rightful place – the cars were not ideal, but more or less honest and – with a normal discount for mongrel origins. For SL / LM koreans made a nice wrapper, added low cost electronic toys – and increased price for 35..50%. So why, exactly, the price gap with decent brands has disappeared?

All the same brand, known for available mass models, which recently became reliable enough (it is necessary to remind, what a trash were Hyundai and Kia cars in 1990s?). “Design” exterior. Average consumer quality (comfort, dynamic) – without breakthroughs and critical failures. Acceptable cost of maintenance. Confidence in the future of the brand (at least compared with SsangYong).

Reliability – acceptable but not ideal. Suspension – not the most complex and expensive in repairs part of vehicle, especially using of quality non-genuine parts have to make normal durability. AT – potentially serious problems, but it do not appear in every car. Although unpleasant to think that the pendulum of Korean quality has gone down after the Japanese one.

Take it? Definitely can not answer – at least, SL / LM are not perfect or non-alternative in its class. Therefore it is better to divide the question.

  • There is a really physical need of diesel SUV? Then HMC is optimal – firstly for reliability. In addition, diesel SL / LM have not specific gasoline problems of poor dynamics and immoderate fuel consumption.
  • Strict financial limit makes to choose for example between the medium grades of SL / LM, something like 2WD RAV4 and top grades of SsangYong? HMC is the optimal variant again.
  • SL / LM or a decent brand for additional 10% in price? Here, we choose the second option.
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