Both the petrol and diesel engines available in the current-generation Tucson have enviable records and reputations for reliability and longevity. Perhaps the factor that will ultimately sway your decision will be the driveline layout, because the all-wheel-drive version of the Tucson is available only with the turbo-diesel or turbo-petrol engine; the normally aspirated engine is available only in front-wheel-drive. To be honest, both the turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol and the turbo-diesel are the natural choices, and the non-turbocharged two-litre petrol engine is very much an also-ran in this model line-up.
That covers the Hyundai Tucson petrol vs diesel debate on a driveability basis, but in other aspects, the question is harder to answer. The petrol turbo is known to be a reliable unit but, in reality, the turbo-diesel probably suits this style of vehicle better with its relaxed feel and effortless nature. That said, if you’re only going to do suburban miles, then rule the diesel out as modern, common-rail diesels with their DPFs really don’t like that type of use. Unless you’re going to drive a decent distance at highway speeds every couple of weeks, the diesel can wind up costing a lot more to maintain.
Even used properly, a diesel engine can be costlier to own and service in the long run and, in the case of the Tucson’s unit, there have been reports of black sludge forming in the intake system, caused by a combination of soot and oil mist which are by-products of the engine’s emissions control. In extreme cases, this black ooze needs to be manually cleaned and that’s a big and expensive job.
But, to confuse things even further, the only transmission available with the turbocharged petrol Tucson is a seven-speed double-clutch unit. Hyundai’s seems better than a lot of such transmissions out there, but many feel this technology is less than perfect and some owners avoid these transmissions at all costs. The turbo-diesel Tucson, in contrast, uses a conventional automatic.