What Features Do We Get for Our 30 Large?

We’re used to Koreans laying on the kit, and here the Tucson doesn’t disappoint. Notable entries are heated rear seats, standard leather-wrapped steering wheel, side rail roof rack, hill-descent control, four-wheel lock, blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert and lane-change assist –  none of which shows up in the base Escape SE AWD.

Ah, but it’s not a slam dunk for the Tucson. The Hyundai makes do with manual temperature control while the Escape gets dual-zone auto climate control. And the Tucson’s 5.0-inch infotainment screen looks puny compared to the Escape’s Sync 8.0-inch screen. The Ford also gets paddle shifters and brake-based torque-vectoring.

While the Hyundai came to us with no optional equipment, the Ford was loaded up with just over $7,000 worth of upgrades, getting such goodies as panoramic sunroof, powered lift gate, powered seats, rear park assist, Sync 3 with navigation and roof rails. This made for a nicely complete package.

However, the win here goes to the Tucson for its standard niceties like leather steering wheel, heated rear seats (the kids will love you) and such safety systems as blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert.

On The Road

This is where these two cute-utes take divergent paths. With its turbo power and 19-inch wheels, the Escape is all sporty and edgy to the Tucson’s more sedate and considerably smoother comportment.

If you like to tickle the shift paddles, feel the surge of lowdown torque and cut cleanly through the corners, the Escape is for you. It’s an alert little thing that blends a dash of Euro-dynamics with practical functionality. The brakes bite with security, showing a more positive feel than the slightly mushy binders found in the Hyundai. But the tradeoff is a busy ride (blame the low-profile 19-inch tires) and a lurchy drivetrain that goes from off-boost high-gear fuel-saving mode to… wait for it… lower gear, turbos spinning, here we go!

Yes, the Ford will leave the Hyundai in its dust in both a drag race and a back-road blast, but we found the Tucson to be the more relaxed drive. The ride was smoother and cabin impressively quiet. The 2.0L engine and tranny deliver the goods in a linear fashion –  no gear hunting or turbo lag.

Hyundai has been burning the candle at both ends when it comes to polishing refinement and dynamics. Time was, it was a given we’d be whinging about weird, disconnected steering and clumpy, floaty ride.. Happy to say, this new Tucson exhibits none of that –  just rock solid structure, greatly improved steering and a fine balance between body control and ride compliance.

The fact that in-house hot-shoe [hot-shoe wannabe – Ed.] Jacob preferred driving the Tucson to the Escape speaks volumes. Is he going all soft on us? Just for that, the Tucson takes the W here.

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