Hyundai Tucson vs Kia Sportage vs Toyota RAV4: Best Medium SUV Under $30,000

Hyundai Tucson
Tegan Lawson

Tegan Lawson

Oct 25, 2016

Doing what I do, I’m regularly asked by friends and family members – what car do you recommend for me?

Most people can usually identify the top three non-negotiable factors that will guide their purchase decision. I’ll take a look, do some research and single out three cars that fit the brief.

Karen and her husband have two children under 10-years-old. They have a tight household budget and know what they can afford to spend.

The family also need a bit of space for sports gear and luggage, but don’t want a large car.

The kids enjoy playing in the front yard and are always leaving toys lying around, sometimes on the driveway. Here are the three must-haves for this family.

  1. Medium SUV
  2. Up to $30,000 before on-road costs
  3. Rear-view camera with parking sensors as standard

The range of medium SUVs available below $30,000 is growing rapidly. During 2015, sales were up 13.4 per cent over the year with a total of 127,489 purchased, and in September 2016 sales were up 20.4 per cent over the same time last year, and up 13.4 per cent year-to-date.

The top sellers last year were the Mazda CX-5, followed by the Toyota RAV4 and then the Nissan X-Trail, but fresh players like the all-new Hyundai Tucson and the new-generation Kia Sportage are stirring the pot.

After a cull of more Medium SUVs that don’t meet the budget, we are left with a list of 14 vehicles: the Ford KugaHaval H6Holden CaptivaHonda CR-VHyundai TucsonKia SportageMahindra XUV500Mazda CX-5Mitsubishi OutlanderNissan X-TrailRenault KoleosSubaru ForesterSuzuki Grand Vitara and Toyota RAV4.

At this price point, all of the potential options are the entry-level variants, and most are the 2WD petrol variants with manual transmissions.

Nine have a rear-view camera with parking sensors, and here are our top three recommendations for Karen (in alphabetical order).

Hyundai Tucson

The Hyundai Tucson burst on to the scene around August last year. The base model Active is priced at $28,590 before on-road costs, with a 2.0-litre petrol engine and manual transmission in 2WD guise.

It’s distinctly stylish both inside and out, and considerably well kitted out with a 7.0-inch touchscreen on which to watch the rear-view camera, complemented by rear parking sensors.

The inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is also a relatively rare find at this price-point. The Tucson has excellent levels of comfort and a decent amount of space, the boot size is impressive at 488-litres and it’s a peppy thing to drive around town.

Hyundai Tucson
Hyundai Tucson

MORE: Tucson news, reviews, pricing and specs

Kia Sportage

Priced from $28,990 for the Si, the entry-level Kia Sportage is 2WD, has a 2.0-litre petrol engine and an automatic transmission. The auto is a big point of difference among this bunch, though it has a smaller amount of boot space at 466 litres.

It meets the brief with a rear-view camera that displays on a 7.0-inch touchscreen and rear parking sensors.

This new-generation SUV’s front-end styling has been polarising, but, despite that, it offers good value for money, a seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty and seven years of capped-price servicing. It’s smooth on the road and feels relatively upmarket.

Kia Sportage
Kia Sportage

MORE: Sportage news, reviews, pricing and specs

Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4 has had a heavy-duty makeover and is looking better than ever with a Lexus-like touch to the interior styling and finishes. The base specification is the GX, equipped with 2WD, a 2.0-litre petrol engine and a manual transmission, priced at $28,550.

The 6.1-inch touchscreen is slightly smaller than many of its competitors, but it’s a big improvement on its previous incarnation. Despite this, it was still the second-highest seller of the segment in 2015.

The RAV4 scores a reversing camera and rear sensors. The exterior of this updated model is looking far more modern, and there’s also a spacious cabin with an incredibly generous cargo volume of 577 litres.

Toyota RAV4
Toyota RAV4

MORE: RAV4 news, reviews, pricing and specs

Honourable mentions

These models fit the brief, but didn’t quite make the top three: Ford Kuga Ambiente, Haval H6 Premium, Holden Captiva LS, the diesel-only Mahindra XUV500,  Mitsubishi Outlander LS and auto-only Renault Koleos Life.

The Mazda CX-5 Maxx and the all-wheel drive Subaru Forester 2.0i-L are highly rated by CarAdvice, but they’re missing parking sensors as standard inclusions – though they do get rear-view cameras.

You could also consider the Honda CR-V VTi, Nissan X-Trail ST or Suzuki Grand Vitara Urban Nav, all of which are priced under $30,000 and have rear-view cameras as standard.


The Carousel thanks Tegan Lawson from Car Advice for this article 


By Tegan Lawson

Tegan Lawson

Tegan Lawson is the Lifestyle writer and Motoring Expert for The Carousel. Tegan produces in-depth interviews and reviews and helps readers make the best choice for their next car purchase. Tegan got her first taste of motorsports journalism working for a regional newspaper. She was still a student at the University of Southern Queensland but was moonlighting patrolling the pits at the Leyburn sprints and heading to the drags, as well as working trackside at the Queensland Raceway V8 supercar rounds in the early 2000s. With petrol firmly in her blood, these early days spawned her love of all things automotive. Her driving career as a 17 year-old began with the unique experience of a Suzuki Carry Van that was quickly upgraded to a more image-appropriate Holden Barina.


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