The Hyundai Tucson is all-new for 2016, and the new model is a dramatic improvement over the old crossover. I felt the previous Tucson was underpowered, unattractive, poorly built, and it wasn’t very great to drive. This new Tucson, however, uses the Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design that debuted on the Genesis, and it looks great. The sharp headlights, big grille, and LED fog lamps brighten up the nose, while the 19-inch alloy wheels and silver accents add a dash of extra luxury. Around back we have interesting taillights that are very similar to the Genesis, an aerodynamic spoiler and dual squared off exhaust tips that are finished in chrome. Overall the 2016 Tucson is very handsome, and it certainly sets the visual benchmark for the compact CUV class.
The new nose has that same squared profile that has been finding its way onto various Hyundai models for a few years now, and it looks great on the Tucson. The proportions and size of this CUV really lend itself to a chunky and masculine design.
Inside, the Tucson feels modern and interesting, and this particular model is loaded with every piece of equipment that is available on the larger and more expensive Santa Fe. From the leather seats to the 8-inch touchscreen stereo, the Tucson feels like just a more compact version of its bigger sibling, and I mean that in the best possible way. For decades, the only way to get the nicer equipment in a car was to upgrade to the larger and more expensive variant. It is nice to see Hyundai offer the same premium features in a smaller car. I even have the same expansive panoramic sunroof that turns the majority of the roof into one beautiful sheet of glass.
It is hands down my favorite part of the car.
The actual design and execution of the interior is wonderful, and it seems like lots of thought and time went into nailing ergonomics and materials. Almost everything you touch on a normal basis feels premium, and the general layout is very intuitive and comfortable. I had no problems finding anything I was looking for, and the cabin is also filled with plentiful cubbies and storage options to keep the cabin organized, even on a long road trip.
Under the hood sits a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine that is good for 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, making this CUV feel peppy and enjoyable. The new platform under the 2016 Tucson is more than twice as stiff as the old model, and thanks to some serious tuning from Hyundai, it drives better than any model before it. In fact, it might just be my favorite Hyundai to drive to date.
I typically feel that most Hyundai’s too soft, and when you try to drive them vigorously, they are far too wayward and squishy. While the Tucson is not a race car by any means, body motion does seem to be much better controlled than a variety of other machines from Hyundai, and it feels nice and planted compared to other machines in the class that I have driven. Perhaps it’s the large tires and the stiffened platform, but this Tucson feels absolutely playful when the road gets twisty.
Steering still leaves a bit to be desired, as Hyundai tends to have some of the numbest steering on the market. The ratio is tight, and the response is nice, but the steering lacks the weight and feedback needed to really make the Tucson feel sporty.
The 1.6-liter turbocharged engine in the Tucson is also a great match for the car, and the seven-speed dual clutch transmission makes for a combination that is perfect. While I typically find high-strung turbo motors to be really annoying in applications like crossovers, this one works. The engine has a nice meaty mid-range to it, and the transmission does a great job of keeping you in that range, so even when you want to pass, you are never need to drop more than two gears to get the job done.
Fuel economy could use a bit of work though. The Tucson is rated at 25 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, with a combined rating of 27. While that sounds great, in practice I found myself running close to 24 at the end of my week with the machine. Having all that torque and mid-range power is nice, but every time that turbo spools up, you start sucking more fuel. 24 mpg is still not awful for a family crossover, but there are certainly other cars in this class to that offer better real-world mileage for the money.
Speaking of money, let’s get to the cost of this thing. If you want a Tucson that is equipped exactly like mine, you are looking to spend $31,110. That may seem like a lot for the cheapest and smallest SUV you can get from Hyundai, but when you consider all the equipment you get, it’s not a bad price. If you consider that a similarly equipped Santa Fe will run a few thousand more, it makes sense. That price is also just under the average new car cost here in the US. Average price and above average equipment sounds like a nice combination to me.
I have spent a lot of time in various machines from Hyundai, and I have a lot of experience with the small and midsize crossover segments. In total, the all-new 2016 Hyundai Tucson combines the best traits of the segment with the best features and engineering that Hyundai has to offer. I still would rather buy a nice wagon or hatchback over a crossover, but if I had to buy a compact CUV, it wouldn’t be a RAV4 or CR-V, it would be the Tucson.