If you’re in the market for a new compact SUV, the options can be overwhelming. With over a dozen models to choose from, not to mention various powertrains and trims, it can be challenging to make a decision. However, by comparing two popular family-friendly compact SUVs – the 2023 Hyundai Tucson and the 2023 Kia Sportage – we can narrow down the choices.

Tucson and Sportage: The Specs

Despite their distinct appearance, the Hyundai Tucson and the Kia Sportage share a lot of similarities. Both models share the same platform, power, drivetrains, and basic dimensions. Under the hood, both vehicles have a standard 2.5-liter I-4 engine that delivers 187 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque. Power is routed through an identical eight-speed automatic transmission, then sent to optional all-wheel-drive systems.

One major difference between the two models is the Sportage X-Pro‘s 17-inch wheels and all-terrain tires. These tires provide better ride comfort on the road, but they may affect handling, braking distance, and noise. However, if off-road performance is a top priority, neither model is ideal. The Tucson has better approach/breakover/departure angles (19.6-/19.5-/26.7 degrees) compared to the Sportage X-Pro’s 18.9-/19.0-/26.6-degree ratings, but both are more “car-like” than anything else.

In terms of passenger comfort and space, the Sportage and Tucson are on equal footing. However, one editor noted that the plastic trim on the front seat backs of the Hyundai model poked him in the back while driving.

Design and Value Comparison

The Sportage’s interior design is more appealing and its road manners are slightly better than the Tucson, making the $1,750 premium over the Hyundai model easy to overlook. However, a closer look at the pricing structure shows that the two models are comparable in price. Our fully loaded Kia Sportage X-Pro Prestige test vehicle was priced at $39,255, while the fully loaded Hyundai Tucson Limited cost $37,505. The off-road-focused Sportage X-Pro cannot be compared directly to the Tucson Limited, as the road-focused Sportage SX Prestige AWD is the direct competitor. This model is similar to the X-Pro, but without all-terrain tires and some off-roady trim, and can be had comparably equipped for just $50 more than the Hyundai.

It is also worth noting that both the Tucson and the Sportage come in hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions. The Tucson Hybrid Limited offers up to 226 hp and achieves 37/36/37 mpg for $40,455 when identically equipped to the gas-powered Tucson Limited. The Tucson PHEV offers 261 hp and can travel on electricity alone for 33 miles, priced at $44,690 before any potential EV incentives. The Sportage Hybrid SX Prestige has 227 hp, delivers 38/38/38 mpg, and costs $37,753. The Sportage X-Line PHEV, which is essentially an X-Pro with bigger wheels and street tires, delivers 261 hp and can go up to 34 miles before the gas engine kicks in, with a sticker price of $44,960 before incentives.

The hybrid and PHEV versions of the Tucson and Sportage offer better fuel economy and more refined performance than the gas-powered models tested in this review.

In conclusion, the 2023 Hyundai Tucson and 2023 Kia Sportage are two excellent options for buyers looking for a family-friendly compact SUV. Both vehicles share the same platform, power, and drivetrain, with similar dimensions and all-wheel drive options. While the Kia Sportage X-Pro has all-terrain tires, the Hyundai Tucson offers better approach, breakover, and departure angles.

When it comes to the interior, the Sportage has superior design, but the dual-function digital HVAC/media display may be challenging to use, while the Tucson has plastic trim on the front seat backs, which may cause discomfort for some passengers.

In terms of pricing, the loaded Kia Sportage X-Pro Prestige comes in at $39,255, while the loaded Hyundai Tucson Limited is priced at $37,505. However, the off-road-focused Sportage X-Pro does not match up directly with the Tucson Limited, as the road-focused Sportage SX Prestige AWD offers similar features at a comparable price of $37,755.

It’s worth noting that both the Hyundai and Kia offer hybrid and PHEV versions that provide more refined performance and significantly better fuel economy than the gas-powered versions. These options may be a better buy for some buyers.

Ultimately, the choice between the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage comes down to personal preference and priorities. While the Sportage has better road manners and superior interior design, the Tucson offers better off-road capability and a more comfortable ride. Both are excellent vehicles, and it’s worth taking the time to test drive each to see which one is the best fit for your family’s needs.

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