With medium sized SUVs being no doubt one of the toughest segments in the Aussie car market, its any wonder both Hyundai and Haval are chomping at the bit to dominate!
With competition being stiff, to say the least, with the likes of the Hyundai Tucson, the Toyota RAV-4, the Mazda CX range and even newcomer, the MG HS, lets see if these two have what it takes to come out on top!
Check out this in-depth review from Car Sales:
Mid-size SUV buyers have never been more spoilt for choice, and today we’re putting two of the latest and most affordable offerings up against each other. On this side, we have the all-new Hyundai Tucson from South Korea, and on the other side is its redesigned challenger from China, the Haval H6.
Both of these SUVs are brand new and improved, but we’re here to answer the question, “If you’ve got around 35K to spend, which delivers more SUV for your money?”
Both entirely new models for 2021, the fourth generation Hyundai Tucson has only just touched down in Aus. Prices are up across the range, but so are tech and safety levels. Yet, the most obvious change here is its wacky new exterior design. The third generation Haval H6 has also received a raft of improvements for 2021, including a rejuvenated exterior design of its own and sharp drive-away pricing. We’re comparing the entry-level Tucson against the mid-range H6 Lux, both front-wheel drive models separated by around $3000.
The new Hyundai’s exterior design is a huge departure from its more conservative predecessors, and it certainly won’t be for those looking to blend in. With sharp angular body panels, vertical integrated LED daytime running lights and a body that’s longer and slightly larger than before, how it looks from the outside is only just the beginning. Similar can be said for the Haval H6 Lux, its new look is headlined by this slimmer and sharper LED headlights and this huge chrome front grille, which could have you mistake it for something a lot more expensive, at least if you’re really, really, really far away. The Haval gets a full width rear LED motif and roof rails, but gains front LED fog lights and bigger 18-inch alloys. The Haval is also slightly larger in all key dimensions, liberating more cabin space, but also taking up more road.
Both get a 2-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine, but the Haval’s is turbocharged, whereas the Hyundai is naturally aspirated. Meaning, the Haval has more power and more torque. Both cars tested here are automatic, but while the Haval comes with a seven-speed dual-clutch unit, the Tucson employs a six-speed torque converter auto. The Tucson’s interior is modern and functional with plenty of soft touch points all around. It doesn’t necessarily scream, “I’m a base model,” which is nice. Even still, entry grade equipment includes cloth seats with manual adjustments, single zone climate control and an old-school key to start.
There’s also no remote keyless entry or electric tailgate on the most affordable Tucson. So if you’re all about creature comforts, you’ll have to spend more money. The touch screen is on the smaller side, but it’s clear, responsive and easy to use. I also really like these new roller toggles on either side, and the fact that the climate control functions are nice and simple to use. The base-spec Tucson comes standard with an 8-inch touch screen that gets wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth and radio. The driver gets a colour 4.2-inch instrument cluster with a digital speedo and plenty of important vehicle info. Storage is great all round with large front door pockets, two cup holders, a huge centre console and more storage for your phone behind the gear stick.
There’s also a wireless phone charging pad in the Tucson’s favour. The H6 makes a slightly better first impression, but only because we’re testing the mid-spec variant in the range, which means its equipment levels are a little higher. The interior is finished in an eco-leather trim. The driver seat comes with electric adjustments and both front seats are heated. There’s also a leather-clad steering wheel, and this one gets remote keyless entry and push button start, which is a bonus. At 10.25 inches, the Haval’s touch screen is bigger but it’s more finicky to navigate and the switch gear is basic. To change a climate control setting or adjust the heated seats, for example, is a multi-stage process and that’s pretty annoying. There’s also no volume control for the passenger. There’s only the up-down volume buttons on the steering wheel, but if those are pressed, the volume can then be adjusted on the touch screen by the passenger, but only once the driver has hit the button first.
A second 10.25-inch LCD touch screen does work for the driver’s instrument cluster, but that too, while larger isn’t our favourite. The screen is busy and isn’t as intuitive in its layout. You also need binoculars to read the tiny icons. Apple CarPlay comes standard but doesn’t work wirelessly like the Tucson, and there’s no Android Auto. Well, there’s definitely more storage here in the Haval, with a two-tier central storage system, cup holders, large door bins and a lidded armrest. Both of these mid-size SUVs come with plenty of rear seat space, but here in the Tucson, there’s plenty of outward vision for rear passengers and lots of under-thigh support, thanks to deep seats. There’s more head space here in the Haval, but the floor sits higher and the seat base isn’t as deep, so it feels like your knees have to bend more.
With all five seats occupied, the Haval’s boot is bigger, but once the rear seat is folded, the Hyundai’s cargo capacity is the winner here, totalling 1860 litres. The Hyundai gets a 12-volt power outlet and full-size spare tyre, while the Haval only gets a space saver. There aren’t any hooks or luggage notes in either, but a folding sun blind is standard in both. But that’s enough about what they do and don’t do. Let’s see what they’re like to drive. Jump in the Hyundai, it’s easy to find a comfy driving position. There’s good vision out front, big side mirrors that offer plenty of vision as well, and you can see out the back window.
The powertrain in this entry-level Tucson has to be one of the Hyundai’s weaker points. A lacklustre 2-litre petrol engine is slow off the line and feels like it runs out of puff quite quickly. Its mating to a six-speed torque converter automatic is also a little underwhelming; it feels jolty and unresponsive at times. The drivetrain is smoother at higher speeds, but again the engine requires lots of work to get going, and is loud under load. In its favour and like every Hyundai, the Tucson comes with an Aussie suspension tune. It corners well and feels relatively flat for an SUV. The combination of chunkier wheels and smaller tyres on this base spec variant mean that bumps and potholes are no problem, and it never feels unsettled on road. Suspension is on the firmer side, but as mentioned, it’s a comfortable ride on pretty much any road surface. Steering input is smooth and light, and it’s an overall easy thing to drive and live with. Inside the cabin it’s a quiet, refined ride even on coarse or chipped surfaces, but that engine is quite loud, and when you really rev it up, you can hear it.
It’s an SUV with dynamics you can really feel confident in. You can whip it around corners and take winding country roads with some enthusiasm, and without making the rest of your passengers feel sick. Well, first impressions behind the wheel of the Haval, and vision is good out front, but these side mirrors sit quite high and they’re really chunky and really kind of hinder your side vision, and there’s not much to see at the back of that rear window, ’cause it is tiny. The higher outputs from its turbo charged 2 L are obvious on road, with a lot more get up and go when you put your foot down. Its front wheel drive system feels less refined however, with oodles of wheel spin and a throttle that feels too sensitive. Both vehicles deliver small amounts of torque steer when you really pin the throttle, but again, it’s more pronounced in the Haval. Where dynamics are concerned, the H6 really falls down. It feels less compliant, even floaty over almost any undulation in the road, and bumps and potholes just send this really weird wobble through the cabin, it’s just… It’s actually a little uncomfortable.
It’s not as controlled or confidence-inspiring, and that really comes across during more enthusiastic driving, and when you’re asking it to perform. Slower driving around town is more comfortable, but the steering is a little heavier than the Hyundai’s, and the suspension still feels too spongy. It takes longer to recover after you hit a dip or bump in the road. The engine is quieter, but there’s less insulation, so while you’re not getting all the noise coming from under the bonnet, you’re getting a bunch of other noises in the Haval like road noise, tyre noise, and all the warnings and driver assistance aids are pretty loud as well. The Haval has claimed to be the more economical SUV here, and on test it was. Measuring this pair purely by what they’re like to drive, the Hyundai is miles ahead. It’s composed and familiar, while the Haval, although more powerful, is nowhere near as poised as a daily driver. Hyundai covers the Tucson with a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty, which isn’t as good as the Haval’s 70 unlimited kilometre warranty. The H6 also comes with a five-year road side assistance package, whereas the Tucson’s only lasts for 12 months. Visits to the workshop for each are due every year or 15000 km, and will cost about the same amount to service over the first five years.
Well, it’s clear that both of these 35K family haulers are stand out in what’s a pretty darn busy category. The Hyundai Tucson feels like it’d stand the test of time. It mightn’t be as powerful, but it brings better dynamics and a more refined ride. The Haval H6 is hot on the Hyundai’s wheels with a gamut of standard equipment for a little less money and a longer warranty, but in this test, it’s just not as well rounded. If it were our money, we’d go with the Hyundai Tucson.