Auto review: Hyundai’s next-generation Tucson crossover
Hyundai has redesigned its compact Tucson crossover
utility vehicle for 2016, giving it a sleek new look based on the
company’s “Fluidic Sculpture” design theme. The re-do has made the
Tucson a bit larger than the previous model, but also lighter, in an
attempt to boost fuel economy.
for the new model begin at $22,700 (plus $895 freight) for the base SE
six-speed automatic with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and
front-wheel drive; and $24,100 for the same vehicle with the optional
the middle are the Eco and Sport models. The Eco with the 1.6-liter
turbocharged four-cylinder engine and seven-speed EcoShift dual-clutch
automatic gearbox starts at $24,150 with front drive, or $25,550 with
all-wheel drive. The Sport model, with the same drivetrain
configuration, begins at $26,150 with front drive, or $27,550 with
the top of the line are the two Limited models, both with the 1.6-liter
engine and seven-speed gearbox. With front drive, the Limited starts at
$29,900, and with all-wheel drive, $31,300. The manual transmission
from the previous generation is no longer available, but the EcoShift
transmission offers nearly the same experience without having to fool
with a clutch. It’s essentially a manual gearbox shifted automatically
by servos, and on our Limited front-drive tester, it felt as though
someone else was shifting gears in a manual transmission for us as we
drove down the road. It’s sometimes a bit jerky, which takes a little
bit of getting used to.
This minor annoyance isn’t limited to this Hyundai transmission,
though. It’s a hallmark of virtually all of these new automatic-manual
transmissions, which originally appeared in Porsche vehicles, and now
are found in Volkswagens and Audis and are beginning to appear in other
advantage is that this gearbox eliminates the need for a torque
converter, which wastes power and fuel. The EcoShift gearbox helps give
the Tucson slightly better fuel economy, especially when paired with the
1.6-liter turbo engine.
fuel economy estimates for our front-drive Limited tester with this
engine and transmission are 25 mpg city/30 highway/27 combined. During
our weeklong test, with about a 30-70 mix of city-highway driving, we
averaged a respectable 27.9 mpg, even with my somewhat heavy right foot.
is quite decent mileage for a roomy and comfortable crossover that can
handily carry five people and their luggage. There are bucket seats up
front and a three-person bench in the rear.
our Limited tester, power was impressive, which is a testimony to what
automotive engineers are achieving these days with small turbocharged
was never a lack of power even when I needed bursts of acceleration to
pass or merge with traffic from uphill freeway on-ramps. But I did need
to use the cruise control to keep from inadvertently speeding once I got
onto free-flowing highways.
The Tucson is based on the chassis of the Elantra sedan,
and shares its architecture with the similar Kia Sportage. It competes
in the popular compact crossover segment that includes the Honda CR-V
and Toyota RAV4, as well as the Ford Escape, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport,
Nissan Rogue, Jeep Cherokee and Volkswagen Tiguan. With this newest
Tucson, Hyundai continues its practice of offering more value than most
of its competitors.
has an “edgy” new exterior design, Hyundai boasts, and that’s true.
It’s the next generation of Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture design theme,
whose first version was included on the previous generation of the
Tucson, which arrived for 2010.
not at all boxy or station-wagon-looking. But it’s not entirely
original, either — it looks a lot like the RAV4, CR-V and Escape. I
wonder sometimes if the designers for vehicles such as these all work
together in the same room.
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large hexagonal grille is impressive, though, and helps make the Tucson
stand out from the crowd. It’s similar to the grille on the newest
with most of the newer vehicles on the market, the redesigned Tucson is
offered with a host of advanced, high-tech safety features previously
found only on luxury vehicles. These include Lane Departure Warning,
Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane Change Assist,
Backup Warning Sensors and Automatic Emergency Braking. All of these
came at no extra charge on my Limited model.
also had the Hands Free Smart Liftgate, which Hyundai has been
promoting heavily in TV ads. It opens automatically when you get within a
few feet of it with the key fob in your possession.
grandson loved the full-length panoramic sunroof, allowing both front
and rear passengers day or night skyward visibility. We enjoyed it while
stargazing on a nighttime drive in the country, and also when watching
some spectacular fireworks. Although our tester didn’t have the optional
all-wheel drive, that’s something I would add if I were buying this
Tucson also has the next-generation of the Hyundai Blue Link system,
with enhanced safety, service and infotainment telematics. Navigation
and audio were combined, with a satellite radio premium audio system
with eight speakers.
The Tucson is
offered in eight exterior and three interior colors. Six of the
exterior colors are new: Chromium Silver, Coliseum Gray (included on our
tester), Ruby Wine, Mojave Sand, Sedona Sunset and Caribbean Blue.
Carried over are Winter White and Ash Black. Interior choices are black,
beige and gray with cloth seats, and black or beige with leather. Our
Limited had the black leather.