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Budget Buy $15,000: Hyundai Tucson vs Honda CR-V

What is the better buy at $15,000? The 2015 Honda CRV has a history of reliability, but the 2015 Hyundai Tuscon offers great options. Read our thoughts here.

Hyundai Tucson vs Honda CR-V

netcarshow.com | hyundainews.com
netcarshow.com | hyundainews.com

A $15,000 budget for a Hyundai Tucson or a Honda CR-V offers some decent possibilities. Let’s explore the kinds of features and performance one can get from these cars. We’ll consider the performance offered by both vehicles, as well as some features, amenities and trims.

As of this writing, using the max budget, one could purchase a 2015 Honda CR-V or a 2015 Hyundai Tucson. The Tucson would more likely have fewer miles, but consider the debate regarding age and mileage and the CR-V might be a better option.

Specs

Tucson

2015 Hyundai Tucson - hyundainews.com
2015 Hyundai Tucson - hyundainews.com

A 2015 Hyundai Tucson comes equipped with one of two engine options: a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine capable of 164 horsepower, or a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder capable of 182 horsepower. Most people who have driven the Hyundai Tucson aren’t exactly bragging about acceleration, and there isn’t a huge difference between the engines. The most commendable aspect of the two engines is that you won’t have to think too hard while merging at high speed, though you probably won’t find yourself passing too much at highway speed.

The Hyundai Tucson does have available all-wheel drive, though it knocks the already not great fuel mileage down from 21 city and 28 highway to 20 city and 25 highway.

Honda CR-V

2015 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
2015 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com

A 2015 Honda CR-V has fewer engine options than the Tucson, but it seems to perform better. Honda made only one engine – the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with 185 horsepower. Acceleration to 60 is 8.4 seconds, but that isn’t actually all that bad for a small SUV with a relatively fuel efficient engine.

Verdict

While neither vehicle stood out in a big way, the CR-V offering only one engine both presents a slightly more powerful vehicle, and one less option. The Tucson can be found for less money for people who are willing to let go of some acceleration.

Driving and Performance

Tucson

2015 Hyundai Tucson - hyundainews.com
2015 Hyundai Tucson - hyundainews.com

We have few complains about the Tucson ride quality. It’s not especially sporty and feels a bit loose around corners, but it’s not an especially sporty SUV in the first place. It does ride quite comfortably at highway speeds and would make a nice road trip vehicle.

Honda CR-V

2015 Honda CR-V - netcarshow.com
2015 Honda CR-V - netcarshow.com

Driving the Honda feels like a composed ride, though not very exciting. You’ll notice some highway noise, including your own tires. Honda has done well to make the 2015 generation of CR-V a small SUV with a decent price that handles fairly well.

Verdict

Both the Tucson and Honda CR-V offer a good, comfortable ride. That’s larger with the vehicles were made for, as neither is expected to be especially athletic. If you want a little bit quicker, the Toyota RAV4 is also a good option.

Trims and Features

Tucson

2015 Hyundai Tucson Limited - carsforsale.com
2015 Hyundai Tucson Limited - carsforsale.com

The Hyundai Tucson comes in three trims: GLS, SE, and Limited. The GLS comes with the base engine, cloth, split folding rear seats, Bluetooth, and 17 inch wheels. We would recommend the SE trim which adds the option of heated seats and leather seats, along with an option for the larger engine and a 4.3-inch screen. Upgrading to Limited means adding an easy to use navigation system, sunroof, seven speaker audio system, and a host of small amenities like keyless entry and push button start.

Honda CR-V

2015 Honda CR-V EX-L - carsforsale.com
2015 Honda CR-V EX-L - carsforsale.com

The CR-V comes in three trims as well – LX, EX, and EX-L. Features are similar to the GLS from Hyundai, with cloth seats, Bluetooth, and few amenities. Upgrading to the EX brings the option for a one-touch moonroof, a slightly upgraded exterior, and a six speaker sound system. This is a rare occasion, but we actually recommend the highest trim of CR-V, because you get at least the option for leather and heated seats as well as 10 way adjustable seating and a better sound system.

Verdict

The Tucson offers some basic amenities like leather and heated seats are a lower trim level and likely for less on the used market. While Honda does package its higher level trims nicely, you need to go a bit higher in price to find them.

Interior and Space

Tucson

The Tucson isn’t well known for offering ample cargo space or a great backseat. Most vehicles in the same class, including the CR-V, offer a bit more space for suitcases. If you are willing to pack a little light or not bring everything with, the comfy ride can make up for this.

The interior is otherwise nice. You’ll find little hard plastic inside the Tucson, and everything is easy to use and eye pleasing, especially for the price.

Honda CR-V

The CR-V has a hard balance. The interior doesn’t attempt to be particularly forward looking and appeals to conservative styling, but it might use a little too much plastic, considering the price you pay. Otherwise, the infotainment system is within reach and easy to use, and the CR-V at least offers more cargo space than the Tucson, or at least for a small SUV.

Verdict

If you want more space, but a less refined cabin, go with the CR-V. If extra space isn’t a priority to you and you like the aesthetics of a nice cabin, the Tucson is the way to go.

Which is our pick?

2015 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
2015 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com

This is a tough choice for a couple of reasons. In the current market, finding a Honda CR-V for under $15,000 means likely having more miles than most Tucsons – while also potentially being a couple of years older. At the same time, there are far fewer Tucsons on the road since Hyundai is a relatively small company by comparison. While prices may reflect that the Tucson is a better overall value, just keep in mind that the Tucson misses the mark on engine performance by comparison to the CR-V. A nice cabin helps, but in our book, we’ll go with the more powerful engine and extra space when we can get it – so we choose the CR-V.

You should also take a look at our top 10 compact crossovers under $20,000, especially if neither the Tucson or CR-V sounds good to you. If you are looking for a more safety and tech oriented vehicle with modern features, consider getting a newer vehicle too.

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Ben Stewart

Ben Stewart knows cars. His passion for vehicles started with racing remote control cars, but evolved into writing articles about them, selling them, and putting his creative mind to use in automotive marketing. The best part about Ben's eight years of dealership experience was connecting people with the details they needed to make informed decisions. He's still keeping up with the specs, prices, and latest features, but now as an author. When it comes to writing, Ben specializes in vehicle history, car reviews, and head-to-head comparisons.

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