Soft-roaders have caught the fancy of car buyers globally due to their SUV-like practicality and car-like driving manners. The Honda CR-V petrol is one such example. It’s easy to drive, provides high ground clearance, delivers a commanding seating position and offers tonnes of practicality. The competition has come and gone, but here in India, the CR-V has remained the only one standing. Now, however, there's a new contender, ready to grab a piece of the pie – enter Hyundai's all-new Tucson.
This is the second time that Hyundai has brought the Tucson to India, first being in 2005. While the first-generation model didn’t do too well, given the insatiable appetite for SUVs in India, Hyundai is optimistic about this third-generation version. It is larger, looks much more imposing and also offers more space and comfort than the previous model. Plus, this time around, it comes with a petrol engine, which puts it directly in the crosshairs of the petrol-only CRV.
Question is whether Hyundai’s latest SUV can take on Honda's CR-V and win. Time to find out just that.
The Tucson comes with a 155hp 2.0-litre petrol that uses a 6-speed automatic. The Honda CR-V also comes with a 2.0 petrol that puts out 156hp, but the one we've chosen for this comparison is the larger and nicer 2.4-litre with 190hp petrol and a 5-speed automatic.
Refinement levels in the Tucson are very impressive. The engine is silent and there aren’t any noticeable vibrations either. In fact, it’s the air-con blower that at higher fan speeds makes the loudest sound inside the cabin. The 2.0-litre engine is smooth and responsive too. There’s adequate pep to scoot around town and power delivery is nice and crisp, but there's no sudden gush of performance. There are three driving modes that modify the responsiveness of the engine, gearbox and the steering. In Eco mode, gearbox shifts to higher gears to maximize efficiency, and the steering feels the lightest out of the three modes. In Sport mode, the engine feels punchier, and performance as a result is enhanced. The petrol Tucson isn't quick per say, with 0-100 coming up in 11.58 seconds, but there's more than adequate performance for highway driving. What also helps is that the gear shifts are smooth and seamless. Some might miss the steering-mounted paddle-shifters, but use aggressive accelerator inputs, and the gearbox instantly goes a gear down.
The Honda’s engine loves to be spun hard. It is peppier off the line too and performance is strong at high revs. It might not be as refined as the Tucson but it smoothens out as the revs build. Also, its larger engine gives it an advantage in this comparison, as it accelerates from 0-100kph in 10.51 seconds – 1.07 seconds faster than the Tucson. In fact, the CR-V is quicker than the Tucson even under regular driving. What’s also nice is that the CR-V allows you to manually change gears with steering-mounted paddle-shifters.
Both these cars tackle potholes and large speed bumps very competently and are comfortable to be in, but it’s the Tucson which rides more comfortably over bad roads. It also goes around bends with surprisingly little body roll. While its drive is quite composed and the light steering is good for city use, its overall driving experience won’t excite you. In fact, as you go faster, the Hyundai feels more and more disconnected.
Of the two, the CR-V offers a more engaging driving experience. It can handle higher speeds better than the Hyundai, and it drives in a more car-like manner. There’s ample grip on offer, the ride is flatter and it encourages you to drive harder. To top it all off, the 2.4-litre CR-V also gets a four-wheel-drive system which will come handy under slippery conditions.
The Tucson’s cabin is a sea of beige with some black bits. And while everything feels contemporary to look, and feels nice to the touch, parts-sharing with lesser siblings like the Elite i20 and Elantra is quite evident. Hence, at Rs 25 lakh the cabin doesn’t wow you. The front seats are accommodating and very comfy. Even the cushioning is nice and soft. That said, it’s the rear where it clearly shines. The back seat reclines to a comfortable angle, the seat itself is wide and there’s plenty of head, knee and leg room. However, the high window-line takes away from the sense of space from an otherwise commodious interior.
The Honda CR-V has been around for a few years now and that clearly shows in its interiors. While the parts are of good quality, there are hard plastics inside and a lot of stuff feels dated. However, its seats feel plush and supportive; in terms of sheer comfort, it’s almost on par with the Tucson. It’s quite a practical cabin too. The rear seats fold flat at the pull of a lever and liberate ample cargo capacity.
The Tucson petrol automatic isn’t available in the fully loaded GLS variant, hence, it loses out on a few features compared to its diesel twin. Despite that, it’s loaded with equipment such as projector headlamps, 18-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, engine start-stop button, keyless entry, 8-inch audio system with navigation and front and rear parking sensors with reversing camera. Safety kit includes six airbags and ABS with EBD.
The CR-V actually betters the Hyundai and comes with paddle-shifters, sunroof and Xenon headlamps. Even in terms of safety, the CR-V is the better equipped with six airbags, ABS, EBD as well as VSA (vehicle stability assist) which prevents the car from spinning out of control.
Of the two, there’s little doubt that the CR-V is the one to go for if you love driving. It has got a more powerful engine, a longer equipment list and offers a higher level of practicality thanks to the flat-folding rear seats. It even gets a four-wheel-drive system which is sure to come handy if you venture off the beaten path. However, the biggest deterrent is its premium pricing that is difficult to justify, especially after the introduction of the competitively priced Tucson.
Hence, the winner of this comparison is the Hyundai Tucson. It’s not quite as accomplished a package as the Honda, but what you can't ignore is that it is a well-rounded package with a competent engine, contemporary styling and comfortable interiors. The driving experience isn’t as engaging as the CR-V and some important SUV kit is missing, but given the nearly Rs 5 lakh savings (even the 2.0-lite version of the CR-V Rs 2 lakh costlier), its clear that the Tucson is far better value for money.
|Hyundai Tucson GL 2.0 P||Honda CR-V 2.4 P|
|Gearbox||Six-speed auto||Five-speed automatic|
|Engine||1999cc, 4 cylinder||2354cc, 4 cylinder|
|Power||155hp at 6200rpm||190hp at 7000rpm|
|Torque||192Nm at 4000rpm||226Nm at 4400rpm|
|Price (ex-showroom, Delhi)||Rs 21.79 lakh||Rs 26.37 lakh|
(In partnership with Autocar India)