A surprisingly refined, capable and luxurious cross-over from Hyundai.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
Click on any picture to see a larger version.
When I say “surprisingly refined”, I could almost use the word “shockingly” there instead. The new Tucson really threw me for a loop. There wasn’t anything wrong with it before, but this loaded-up Limited trim (you can still step it up one more notch to the Ultimate trim) really takes things to a new level.
Yes, my review vehicle’s color got a lot of comments, and all of them were positive. I’m a brown car fan myself, and this colour looks like a light, sparkly milk chocolate. It’s very eye-catching, and looks high-end. The Tucson has a nice profile and styling that sets it apart but doesn’t ruffle any feathers either. While there’s nothing mind-blowing here, it does not look cheap from any angle and I really liked the Tucson’s quiet, confident look.
Up front, HID headlights with LED signature lights as well as LED daytime running lights make an impression, while in the rear the Tucson’s LED tail lights and squared-off parallelogram exhaust tips look like they mean business. Yes, I said parallelogram – I’m proud to say this might be the first time I’ve used school math since I graduated … many years ago.
The whole package is completed with a set of huge tires (245/45s!!!) on great-looking 19-inch rims.
As you step up into the Tucson cabin, you’ll notice it feels quite spacious for a compact crossover. Hyundai’s materials are pretty nice for this class – soft-touch plastics can be found nearly everywhere and the fit and finish appeared to be outstanding. The Limited’s heated leather seats are comfortable and well-bolstered.
The dash houses an 8-inch touchscreen which looks after the Tucson’s media, navigation, phone and vehicle settings – it’s pretty well thought out, intuitive and a good system overall. There’s a dual-zone automatic climate control below.
I was impressed with some of the nice higher-end touches here – a heated steering wheel and massive panoramic sunroof overhead with a powered sunshade and the leather-wrapped instrument panel made an impression. In terms of driver assistance technology, this trim comes with a back-up camera with rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring system, rear cross traffic alert and lane change assist.
Sitting in the back, I found reasonable head room and excellent knee and leg room for me at 5’10”. The back seats are heated but otherwise your rear passengers get nothing in terms of convenience, like a power port, etc. Yes, the middle seatback folds down to become an armrest with a couple of cupholders, but I’d say with a back seat full of kids, a charging plug would go a bit further than a cupholder. The rear seats do recline for a little adjustment.
I appreciated the thought that Hyundai put into storage areas in the Tucson’s cabin. There’s a drop-in bin at the front of the console (along with two 12V plugs, and the auxiliary and USB plugs), smaller organizational bins further back in the console and a huge carpeted bin under the armrest.
If you stand near the proximity-activated power liftgate with the key fob in your pocket, the trunk will automatically open. That is a really cool feature. As it opens, you’ll appreciate the very sizable 877 litre trunk. Hyundai doesn’t tell us how much bigger it gets when you fold the 60/40 split rear seats flat, but suffice it to say, it is very competitive in terms of cargo space.
Under the Hood
Here’s something fresh – the new turbocharged 1.6-litre 4-cylinder is pretty slick! It puts out 175 HP and 195 lb.ft of torque, and there’s a new 7-speed dual-clutch transmission feeding the power to the Tucson’s all-wheel drive system.
Fuel economy is pretty darn good. Hyundai rates things at 9.9 L/100 km (24 US mpg) in town and 8.4 L/100 km (28 US mpg) on the highway. We ended up with an impressive average of 9.4 L/100 km (25 US mpg) driving mostly around town with a heavier foot.
Hey, remember when I said this thing is surprisingly refined? That goes for the tiny engine as well. When you step on it and let those revs soar, it stays composed and never gets too noisy or too buzzy. And you’re rewarded with good, linear response and virtually no turbo lag, thanks to the full torque being available at 1500 RPM. I thought the Tucson was very responsive off the line, especially in Sport mode.
The new transmission is quite good – it was very smooth, and pretty smart in terms of being in the right gear at the right time. One little hiccup – the transmission occasionally started in second gear, which can be a bit scary when you’re trying to get into traffic quickly. There’s also an Eco mode to save some fuel – it dampens the Tucson’s responsiveness obviously but it remains quite driveable.
Refinement doesn’t end with the suspension. While firm, the Tucson has a good ride and very decent handling, although it’s obvious you’re in a taller vehicle when you start throwing it into the corners.
We had the opportunity to hit the open road for a bit and the Tucson is a great highway vehicle – everything is very smooth, very quiet and there’s plenty of power even for passing.
Simply said, I really liked it. The Tucson has it all. Great looks, a refined drivetrain, a polished (and downright loaded) cabin and plenty of room.
WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) was very high. She absolutely loved the colour, and said that it drove like a very expensive vehicle.
Yes, in this trim, there’s a bit of initial sticker shock when you see the price. But when you look at what you get, versus what the competition offers, the pricing holds up. The Tucson is definitely the right answer for a lot of vehicle shoppers, whether it’s in its loaded-up, slightly pricey guise (like the one I drove) or the significantly more affordable trims lower down the line. It would be a great choice either way, pending on your needs, wants and budget.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Hyundai Canada.
If you enjoyed this review, feel free to check out my other vehicle reviews under the car reviews tab at the top of my blog.
Pricing: 2016 Hyundai Tucson
Base price (Limited 1.6T trim): $36,649
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $38,544