Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Review: 2016 Hyundai Tucson Is Worth The Wait

Hyundai Motor bosses in Seoul “are extremely, extremely anal when it comes to QRD issues,” says Hyundai Canada product and strategy director Mike Ricciuto. He’s not kidding about quality, reliability, durability. This is critical news for shoppers of the reinvented 2016 Hyundai Tucson.

After six years puttering along essentially unchanged, watching Nissan’s Rogue, Honda’s CR-V and Toyota’s RAV4 zoom past with major upgrades, the Tucson has caught up and passed its competition in critical ways. About time. Canadians have gone ga-ga over crossovers and sport-utility vehicles. They want this sort of thing.

Hyundai’s tardy effort starts at the heart of this tall, front-drive station wagon with available all-wheel drive. Under the hood of pricier Tucsons is a new powertrain that you should sample before buying anything.

The 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine (175 horsepower/195 lb-ft of torque) is mated to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT) – Hyundai’s first DCT. A superb combination.

Power pours on seamlessly and the shift quality is clean and pure. No small feat. Dual clutch gearboxes are two gearboxes in one – technically challenging to design and difficult to build with top QRD. See Ford for lessons in problematic DCTs.

Hyundai’s 1.6-litre/seven-speed delivers 13 per cent better fuel economy than the clunky 2.4-litre four it replaces, too. Despite their complexity, DCTs should be lighter if designed properly, they’re more efficient for fuel economy and they deliver race-car driveability. Any F1 driver will explain.

Alas, to get the new powertrain, you’ll need to step into the $31,509 Tucson Premium with AWD. Less expensive Tucsons get the carried-over 2.0-litre four and a traditional six-speed gearbox. Ho, hum.

As for the rest, the new design is crafted to match models such as the newest Sonata. Pleasant, especially from the back end. The cabin is roomier than before. And safety and infotainments do-dads are as good and comprehensive, perhaps better, than anything from Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Mazda and Honda.

I’d like more feel in the Tucson’s steering – especially the 2.0-litre – but I am not worried about QRD. For years, third-party research from Consumer Reports, J.D. Power and Associates and others consistently ranks Hyundai among the industry’s best. It’s hard to imagine Hyundai introducing a problem-plagued DCT.

If you’re a consumer, cheer the anal quality bosses.

You’ll like this crossover if ... You want a small rig with the most modern power train in the segment – the 1.6-litre with the seven-speed dual clutch gearbox.

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