Kia Sportage / Hyundai Tucson (ix35). Mini-review

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© Toyota-Club.Net
May 2013


- 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
D4FD168577.2 x 90.017.0114/4000260/1250-2750CRDI U II
D4HA199584.0 x 90.016.5134/4000320/1800-2500CRDI LP R
D4HA199584.0 x 90.016.0181/4000392/1800-2500CRDI R
G4FD159177.0 x 85.411.0133/6300165/4850 D-CVVT + GDIGamma
G4KD199886.0 x 86.010.5161/6200194/4600 D-CVVT Theta II
G4KD199886.0 x 86.010.5165/6200*198/4600 D-CVVT Theta II
G4KH199886.0 x 86.09.5 260/6000364/1850-3000T-GDI Theta II
G4NA199981.0 x 97.010.3164/6500201/4800 D-CVVT Nu
G4KE235988.0 x 97.010.5170/6000221/4000 D-CVVT Theta II
G4KE235988.0 x 97.011.0176/6000228/4000 D-CVVT Theta II
* - for rus-market declared output 150 hp.

G4KD . Perhaps the most problem-free unit of SL/LM, and rather reliable on the background of the japanese analogues. Technically - something like Toyota AZ-AR (but without dropping cylinder head) - the classic "disposable", light-alloy open deck, timing chain, DOHC with adjusting tappets, dual-VVT. Traditional multi-point injection, MAP control, standard VIS.
Fuel consumption - unexpectedly high. Relatively, 10-12 l per 100 km in combined cycle - is a distant dream for most residents of large cities, but 14-16 at the average traffic jams are not surprise, at winter consumption in the urban cycle can be over 18. A small bonus - engines are loyal to RON 91 gasoline.
Alas, "caviar to the general" - all modern Hyundai Motors cars with gasoline engines exhibit a very phlegmatic character. For empty car thrust and dynamics can be acceptable, but for loaded is strictly insufficient (although, Sorento 2.4 makes feel even more sad). At this point, HMC fans try to distort - "Why is there a claim to the SL / LM, if almost all classmates are about the same?" Firstly, well-deserved portion of criticism addressed to each 2.0 naturally aspirated SUV - from CR-V to CX-5. Secondly, SL/LM dynamics is objectively mediocre - sometimes even worse than comparable analogues with 4-AT, especially and progressively noticed at speed range from 60-80 to 120-150. It did not expect from a modern model with 150+ hp engine, 6-AT and so impressive appetite. For today all competitors are more economical and faster - with equivalent by power small displacement turbo engines, with 2.0 + CVT, and sure high-torque diesel versions.

G4NA . Since 2012 "Nu" series 2.0 launched. It is rather similar to its predecessor, but differs in the bore geometry, timing chain, lash adjusters and rockers in the valvetrain, oil pump in chain cover directly driven by the crankshaft etc. No controversial decisions was detected, but to talk about its reliability is too early.

D4HA . In the second half of the 2000s, after known unfortunate events with D4CB engines, the reputation of Hyundai diesels at least has been spoiled. But R-series engines did not brake apart while driving, and gradually earned a reputation as one of the best modern diesel for passenger cars. Construction - typical HMC timing drive with two chains, DOHC, lash adjusters and rockers, standard VGT (variable geometry turbine), not so high fuel pressure (160 MPa), VIS, solenoid injectors. In contrast to some other brands, to make from LowPower version high boosted by firmware update is not possible - they are different engines, with own injectors, turbines, control units, and even pistons.
As for the thrust-weight ratio and dynamics, the diesel versions are totally superior to their gasoline counterparts. In respect to noise and vibration, these motors are quite well (unlike for example SsangYong tractor). Special requirements for the quality of diesel fuel or unusual features of the winter starting were not detected.


Traditionally, we do not consider MT versions and cross out 2WD.

6-AT HPT A6MF1 - aggregated with a gasoline engine. Made by Hyundai PowerTrain, independent development of Koreans, which had not direct analog or prototype of Mitsubishi. Additional controls - "manual" mode.

It works smoothly, almost imperceptibly. The most common symptom of disease - periodical "slip" at a speed (when pressing the accelerator rpm sharply increasing, but vehicle racing begins smoothly and after a few second pause - just do not confuse it with the usual kickdown operation). The next stage - the emergence of shocks when gear changing, and very sad sign - tremors or delays when changing to 3rd or 5th gear or reverse.

Of course, the light dealer diagnosis usually does nothing - no DTC because the electric circuits of solenoids are normal (the problems are usually associated with hanging spool valves and clogged channel of hydraulic unit). But even the measurement of pressure in the transmission at different modes for most officials - is too higher mathematics.

Under the warranty the transmission are replaced assembly, but service bulletins can explain what the problems are and how to cure it. As expected, HMC obtain the main problem of all modern 6-AT - problems with the hydraulic unit (valve block). The solenoids are just "consumable" (mostly linear - 6 pcs), and at the first years there was production defects. There are claims to the input speed sensor, ATF temperature sensor and even to brake light switch (the typical "feature" is defined at once - impossible to move the selector from parking, for top versions with stop-start button - engine does not start) - so, the all electrical parts of transmission control are problematical. As cherry on the cake - recall on failure of oil cooler hoses. The problems with the hydraulic unit can be regarded minor, if the incorrect pressure is not caused a "burning" of clutches. Therefore, the "cure" the transmission is better during the warranty period.

6-AT HPT A6LF2 - aggregated with diesel engines. In addition to the "features" above, there is the question of lifetime in conditions of high torque transfer.

Among the other, add short lifetime of propeller shaft central mount bearing - fortunately, for this case the manufacturer has provided repair kit.


Front - McPherson, rear - multi-link (springs and absorbers are separated). There are only two deficiencies of the suspension - extra rigidity and extra fragility.

Alas, stiff and noisy suspension is normal for korean cars and perceived as a necessary evil. All sharp potholes and cracks transferred to a body as shocks and tremor. Suspension work is noisy even in the warm season, as the winter freezed rubbers create the effect of the shaker (so it is not recommended to fight against imaginary faults in winter - at positive temperature, they may disappear by themselves). At more smooth ground road and at higher speed the car become better, but for urban SUV it is useless. Note, SL subjectively is perceived as more soft than pre-restyle LM.

And what about logically inexplicable brittleness.
- Leaks of shock absorbers? - mass warranty replacements to 30000 km (rear works little longer).
- Dangling dampers and strut dusters? - general disease with a separate service campaign.
- Stabilizer links? - changed almost with the frequency of the scheduled maintenance.
- Stabilizer bushes? - works little longer (up to 50000 km), unless do not start to creak.
- Rear suspension silent blocks? - yes, the main source of squeaks.
- Support bearings of the front and rear struts? - certainly.
- Rear suspension springs sag under normal driving conditions for 15-20000 km, but on the bad road under load - perhaps for one trip. New original is the same, so that the great demand for normal aftermarket spring. This problem must be solved fast - wheel alignments are violated cause tyre wear.
Well, just in case remember - all massively defects occurred at cars not older than 3-4 years withtin first 50000 km of mileage.


Note, that on a bad korean tradition, HMC cuts stabilization system in lower grades (for now, this applies to 2WD). Since medium grade full set of anti-lock braking systems, stabilization, uphill- and downhill assist is installed. Effectiveness and reliability - no doubts yet.


No versions with hydraulic power steering was supplied to the European market, so officially imported cars have electric power steering of budget type (the motor is on the top of the column), and all the problems with intermediate shafts, splined connection and the rack are as Toyota ones. Warranty replacement occurred even at first service, but the problem is not total.

Driveability is good, easy and quite clearly (which is not surprising with such rigid suspension). The degree of assist varies depending on the speed, the damping ability of EPS are small, so that the wheel "polluted" by road roughness reaction - but for asian non-premium car it is difficult to expect something different.


All-wheel drive - torque-on-demand: permanent front drive, automatic connection of the rear wheels by multi-plate coupling mounted on the rear differential carrier. Two types of coupling used.

LM before MY2012 - traditional electromechanical coupling made by JTEKT (like Toyota ATC - with pilot clutch, balls slots, etc.).

LM since MY2012 and SL - hydro-mechanical coupling made by Magna (Dynamax), where the clutch compression is performed by modulated fluid pressure, which should be recognized as more advanced technology. Damage cases are rare, so the reliability of can be considered acceptable.

Additional capabilities - mode of forced coupling locking. Difflocks are automatically emulated by brake system.

By off-road possibilities components:
- The ground clearance. Under front side 170-175 mm - less than the minimum requirements of the class.
- Geometry. Short and high enough overhangs - no problems with the curbs and angle of approach. No hang down under the bottom elements are observed.
- Articulation. Traditionally poor, the articulationcourse of the rear suspension is almost nonexistent.
- 4WD type. The effectiveness and durability at a good level. Forced 4WD ON mode available.
- Diflock emulation. Not bad in compatison with classmates (at least for SL).
- Thrust-weight ratio. Minimally acceptable for gasoline version, good - for diesel.
- Transmission strength. Normal hydromechanical AT.
Total: at soft ground and snow possibilities are limited by small clearance, on uneven terrain lack of suspension articulation is more or less compensated by difflock emulations.


All grades, except lowest, are equipped with dual-zone climate control. The central air vents - fully closable. No deflectors for rear passengers, there are air ducts under the front seats. The controls - average: SL - rotary knobs and buttons, simple auto mode, euro version LM - just buttons. Positive - the presence of the display.

Operation - rather effective, claims to cooling in summer or heating in winter does not occur, the increased "sweating" is not marked. The most common problem (as general for HMC) - noise of blower motor bearings (under warranty).


Formal modern set - two front, two side, two curtain; but only two front airbags in basic grade - infamous savings. EuroNCAP 2010 - 5 star: SL - 33 points (93%), LM - 32 points (90%).


Rather good optitron combination of pre-restyling SL was spoiled by circular digits. White-blue gamma of LM - not the best option for perception. Switch of the trip-computer should be on the steering wheel. But let's not quibble - in the whole meters are sufficiently informative and modern.


Standard head device of SL - integrated into the panel CD/MP3 deck (supports BT, USB, AUX) with a monochrome red display - looks very archaic. On the other hand - no need to extra pay for branded navigation of top versions, on the "third hand" - system can be reprogrammed to alternative interface with normal navigation, but a large touch screen and rear camera are not be denied. In LM '2013 no need to think - media / navi system is already installed for the minimum-acceptable version (rear-view camera is used here in the past - with displayed in the salon mirror).


Medium / optimal grade of SL looks good: heated mirrors with folding, DRL, fog lights with corner lights, optitron meter, heated front and rear (!) seats, cruise control, multifunctional wheel, rear parking sensors, rain sensor, heated wiper area.

Additional features for overpriced top version: keyless entry-start, discharge lamps, navigation, rear view camera, parkmatik. LM is equipped similarly, except DRL and the optional xenon.

Onboard electrical is totally connected via BCM and CAN, but any specific problems not detected yet. Some questions to designers - for example, at the rear turn indicators of SL slipped down to the bumper and part of rear combination lamp on the door in euro version loss any wiring and lamps.


HMC service is relatively well - there are professionals, there are many officials (good and not). And when comparing from the "inside" work of warranty engineers today and ten years ago, can say that the company became more sane and loyal.

The warranty period: Kia - 5 years / 150000 km (70 for suspension), Hyundai - 3 years / 100000 km (engine and transmission - 5 years / 120000 km). Of course, it is included a long list of exceptions with warranty for a year or 15..30000. Scheduled maintenance - every 150000 km. Genuine parts, duplicates, parallel import - in this respect korean cars are the best, and the prices are still kept at a reasonable level.

The cost of insurance is relatively small - even below $1500 at first rank companies.


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.