New Kia Sportage vs Ford Kuga vs Hyundai Tucson: interiors

In a vibrant family SUV market, can Kia’s striking new Sportage make an impact? We’re pitting it against its Ford and Hyundai rivals in hybrid form to find out...

New Kia Sportage dashboard

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

You sit nice and high in all three cars, with a good view ahead that’s only slightly obscured by the windscreen pillars. Over-the-shoulder visibility is compromised by chunky pillars and shallow rear screens in the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage; while the Ford Kuga isn’t great either, it suffers less in this respect. At least they all come with large door mirrors, front and rear parking sensors and rear-view cameras to help with low-speed manoeuvres.

There’s plenty of adjustment for their steering wheels and front seats. The Sportage and Kuga come with electric seat adjustment to make life a little easier, while the more heavily bolstered seats and use of grippy, suede-like material in the Kuga hold you more securely while cornering.

Ford Kuga dashboard

Apart from the use of red stitching in this ST-Line X Edition there’s very little to lift the Kuga’s rather sombre interior. You do get some fake carbonfibre trim on the dash and front doors, but this only adds to the darkness. The dashboard design is also disappointingly similar to the Focus hatchback’s, although it is at least functional, with the controls being easy to reach and use.

Step inside the Sportage and Tucson and they immediately feel more like premium products, with wider ranges of textures and materials. The Tucson has gone for a slick, minimalist design, but it doesn’t look quite as upmarket as the Sportage in places, and the latter’s controls are grouped together in a more logical way. While adjusting the air temperature is a doddle in the Sportage and Kuga, the Tucson swaps their physical knobs for a touch-sensitive panel that can be tricky to operate on the move.

Hyundai Tucson dashboard

All three have crisp digital instrument panels that are easy to read and can show useful things such as navigation directions, but those in the Tucson and Sportage can be configured in the wider variety of ways than the Kuga’s.

The Tucson uses buttons to engage the gearbox, and they’re pleasingly direct to use, especially when you have to repeatedly alternate between forward and reverse during low-speed manoeuvres. The Kuga’s rotary selector also works well, but the spring-loaded dial in the Sportage is fiddlier to use, because you don’t always know whether you’ve succeeded in engaging your chosen gear.


Kia Sportage

New Kia Sportage infotainment

The Sportage has the largest screen here, at 12.3in, and it’s well positioned so that it’s easy to see at a glance while you’re driving. Not only does it have sharp graphics and the best colour contrast of the three, but it also responds crisply to inputs and the menus are simple to navigate. If we’re being really picky, some of the blank space on certain screens (stored radio stations, for example) could have been used to fit bigger icons so that they’re easier to hit.

Ford Kuga

Ford Kuga infotainment

The Kuga’s 8.0in touchscreen is the smallest of the three and the software can be slow to respond, especially when booting up at the beginning of a journey. This can be a pain, especially when you want to set up the sat-nav first, but it’s otherwise a simple system to use. Like our other contenders, it comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay phone mirroring. The standard Bang & Olufsen premium sound system is punchy and the most powerful sounding of the three.

Hyundai Tucson

Hyundai Tucson infotainment

Neatly integrated into the dashboard, the Tucson’s sizeable (10.3in) touchscreen is pleasingly quick to respond to inputs and has smooth, sharp graphics. It’s also relatively intuitive to use, with a row of handy (albeit quite small) shortcut buttons permanently displayed on a touch-sensitive control panel below the screen, where they’re readily available. Like the Kuga, the Tucson comes with a premium sound system in this trim level.

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