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Don’t ya just hate it when siblings fight?

Hyundai and Kia may both come from the same South Korean bloodline, but that doesn't mean their vehicles are identical twins. Let's look at and compare two of their most recognizable nameplates: the 2023 Tucson and Sportage. What’s the final word? Which is the best compact SUV?

 

Round 1: Overall Safety

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We like to think we have the right priorities, here in the Hyundai family. We want a fair fight, so let’s lay some ground rules to start us off. Can we all agree, safety is perhaps the single most important measure of the best small SUV?

We can think of no other organization better suited to judge than the IIHS. Since the late 50’s, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has been performing rigorous crash tests on almost every major production model on the market. You know, those tests where they strap those poor dummies in and hurl them at top speed toward a concrete barrier?

The IIHS is a nonprofit who receives funding from various insurance agencies. They’ve been at least partially responsible for not only improvements in crashworthiness and automobile safety, but also road construction, and even car seat design. Every year, we all wait with bated breath to see which models are going to take home their coveted Top Safety awards.

The 2023 Kia Sportage won the Top Safety Pick award for 2022. They won some pretty high marks across the whole board… almost. Unfortunately, the Sportage lost out on the highest award largely because of its bunk headlamp situation.

Oh, yes, there is a higher award. The highest, in fact: The Top Safety Pick+ was given to the Hyundai Tucson for the 2022 model year. It earned some very similar ratings to the Sportage, but at the end of the day, the superior headlights won it the top spot. The Tucson comes out as one of the best affordable SUVs. Turns out, seeing in the dark is kind of important. With that, our first round comes to a close.

Winner: Hyundai Tucson

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Round 2: Driver Assistance Features

The Sportage looks like it has a bone to pick when the second bell dings. Talking about driver assistance, as they trade blows it’s plain to see that this is not going to be an easy fight for either of them. Both have their own suites of proprietary features, some of which are optional add-ons, but many of which are standard across all trims. Either way, they’re both impressive for a couple of sporty small SUVs.

There’s Hyundai SmartSense, and Kia DriveWise, for the Tucson and Sportage, respectively:

 

Hyundai Tucson

Kia Sportage

Forward Collision Warning

Standard

Standard

Lane Follow Assist

Standard

Standard

Lane Keeping Assist

Standard

Standard

Lane Departure Warning

Standard

Standard

Smart Cruise Control w/ Nav Assist

Optional

Optional

Highway Driving Assist

Standard

Optional

Driver Attention Warning

Standard

Standard

Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance

Optional

Optional

Blind-Spot View Monitor

Optional

Optional

Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance

Optional

Optional

Park Assistance Warning

Optional

Optional (Rear Standard)

Safe Exit Warning

Optional

Optional

Surround View Monitor

Optional

Optional

As you can see, it all gets a bit complicated—even more so, when you throw in all the extraneous trims. The combatants are almost entirely evenly matched here, and they return to their corners with naught but a few glancing blows.

Winner: Draw

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Round 3: Interior Space

The competitors are still looking spry as we tackle the issue of cabin space. After all, there’s a reason you bought an SUV and not a sports car. Whether you have a family to cart around, or you just like having a little extra space to have fun with, one of the reasons the SUV has taken over the market is that is provides a little extra room without sacrificing economy.

These measurements are for the base trim of both models. Let’s see the dang scorecard already:

 

Hyundai Tucson

Kia Sportage

Headroom (front/rear)

40.1”/39.5”

39.6”/39.4”

Legroom (front/rear)

41.4”/41.3”

41.4”/41.3”

Shoulder Room (front/rear)

57.6”/57.0”

57.5”/55.6”

Hip Room (front/rear)

54.5”/53.9”

54.8”/53.4”

Cargo Volume (rear/max)

41.2 cu. ft./80.3 cu. ft.

39.6 cu. ft/74.1 cu. ft.

 

Woof… it’s a close one. Both have competed admirably, but we have to call it based off that last figure alone—over a half a foot of extra square footage can make all the difference when you’re packing for a road trip. The Tucson leaves the ring with its head held high.

Winner: Hyundai Tucson

 

Final Round: Interior Comfort

Other critics have weighed in on this same debate. US News rated the Hyundai Tucson as their #1 pick for the best compact SUV category. In their review, they noted the difference in upholstery that made them turn their heads.

The Hyundai vs Kia debate continues to rage. So, what is the best compact sport utility vehicle? Well, we have to go with the Tucson as the best compact SUV of 2022. The Kia Sportage is a great SUV, but it just falls a little bit short.

Winner: Hyundai Tucson

 

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We Have a Victor!

Sure, maybe we’re a bit biased, but it’s hard to deny the clear winner here. The Hyundai Tucson comes out on top.

The Tucson is available in hybrid and plug-in hybrid too, so you could really call this one a knockout. If you’re interested in seeing it for yourself, our SUV dealership in Birmingham is ready to show you the goods. Give Jim Burke Hyundai a call at (205) 502-2792. We’ve been in business for more than 70 years, and we’d love to help you find the perfect SUV in near Hoover!