The Decision

On looks and practicality: Hyundai Tuscon vs Toyota Innova

What's the best option?

Hello, Botchi!

I read Top Gear Philippines from time to time and I always read the column where you help out someone choose a car. It is very helpful and insightful. I like cars (I think all guys do).  However, to be honest I don't know much on engines, features, etc. I just drive my Toyota Altis and that's it--Point A to Point B or C. 

Now, I'm hoping you can help me out with your knowledge and expertise. We are planning on purchasing a new vehicle some time towards the third quarter of this year.  Our top choices are the new Hyundai Tucson and the Toyota Innova. Let me share with you first what I've read so far and see if it adds up:

What we need:
- a reliable car that lasts--something that wouldn't need to a major repair in like eight to ten years and something that's easy to maintain since I don't know much about cars
- a vehicle with a relatively high re-sale value
- a huge luggage space (ideal for putting in balikbayan boxes for relatives from abroad or a lot of egg trays)
- good fuel economy
- capacity for a good number of passengers
- a vehicle that will fit our budget of around P1 million or P1.1 million.

We like the Hyundai Tucson for its kick-ass looks and interiors, and its pricing is very competitive. I read somewhere, however, that it drinks a lot of gas. Besides, I'm not so sure but are the new Korean cars really built to last?


As for the Toyota Innova, it's definitely built to last and its pricing is also competitive. It's also roomy and can fit eight people. But the design is so lame and the interiors are not eye-catching at all. The new Innova still looks like the old Innova. Toyota designers are too lazy to give it a new look.

I haven't driven the Hyundai Tucson but I've driven a Toyota Innova. It was pretty good, actually-better than the Altis, to my surprise. It seems that if I go for practicality, the Innova is the winner here. If it is, would it be more practical to buy a second-hand Innova than to buy a brand new unit? And which is better: the Innova E or the Sports Runner? Is diesel engine really better than the gas one? Is gasoline better for the environment? Or do you have other car suggestions that are also good?

Thanks a lot, Botchi!


Hi, Raymund!

Thanks for taking the time to write to us. We always enjoy hearing from our readers.

I take it you want to get the most out of your money, and you value practicality a lot. Let's get some basics in first.

If you intend to keep the car for eight to ten years, go brand-new. At least you have full control of the car's usage and maintenance from day one, ensuring that the vehicle will last for as long as possible. Follow the preventive maintenance schedule religiously and theoretically the car should last for more than ten years.

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Next, in this day and age, diesel is the way to go for hauling, cargo-carrying and least amount of peso-per-kilometer cost. Over the past few years, the focus on engine development has been on diesel engines. CRDi diesel injection systems have surpassed the quality and efficiency of traditional gasoline injection systems. Coupled with turbocharging, the CRDi diesel has far less fuel consumption and makes prodigious amounts of torque and power. Pay extra attention to the torque output since torque is what's important for your needs. You also need to rev the diesel engine less as compared to gasoline engines with similar displacements or engine size. That means more savings and an effortless feel in driving experience. The only thing you need to be mindful of is that CRDi diesel injection systems such as those fitted to the Toyota Innova and the Hyundai Tucson are very sensitive to diesel fuel quality. Make sure you always fill up at a gas station that is in an area that does not flood, is relatively new and well-maintained. Dirty water and other foreign substances that get into diesel can contaminate the fuel and can destroy your expensive CRDi injection system.

Now that we're done with the basics, I agree that the Innova is hard to beat in your case (click this link to see the Toyota Innova lineup in the Philippines). I also love the Innova as it is surprisingly smooth and competent considering it's something of a humble multipurpose vehicle built on a truck chassis. The 2.5 D4-D diesel engine is powerful and punchy and is quite economical. Driving from Santander to Cebu City via the coastal highway at fast cruising speeds impressed me, netting just over ten kilometers per liter with three people inside plus a full load of cargo.


The Hyundai Tucson in diesel trim will unfortunately be well over your budget (click this link to see the Hyundai Tucson lineup in the Philippines).

I hope this helps clear up some of the confusion in your mind. I say get a brand new diesel Innova, always gas up in a clean and new gas station, and follow the service schedule religiously, and you'll really get the most out of the vehicle.

Good luck, keep us posted on how you move forward. God bless and take care!

Botchi Santos
Consumer editor

Lost in a sea of cars and not quite sure which one to get? Click here to email your car query so Botchi can help you pick the right vehicle!    

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