Hyundai (pronounced like Sunday) had a rough start in the United States. At first, there were quality issues, then there were fuel economy gaffes. But all of that is in the past now, and what Hyundai produces today is generally top-notch. The new 2016 Tucson is no exception, pulling off something that really should make the bigger automakers take notice; the 2016 Tucson is not only a really good Hyundai, but it’s a really good Toyota.
(Full Disclosure: Hyundai wanted me to review their new Tucson so badly that they offered to drop it off at my house with a full tank of gas for a week. How could I refuse such an offer?)
When the fleet folks dropped the Hyundai off to start a rotation of review vehicles, they actually brought the new Toyota RAV4 as a chase vehicle. Coincidentally, it was nearly the same color as the Hyundai they delivered. This is important to the story, because side-by-side, while different, have a lot of similarities. They even, in profile, look similar.
So what makes the new Tucson good enough to be compared side-by-side with the stalwarts at Toyota? Just about everything.
Our review Hyundai Tucson Limited came dang-near fully loaded, and a sticker price $32,510 (including destination). While that might seem like a lot of money to some, that’s actually a pretty good deal considering everything you get.
Everything is standard in the Limited model, including LED directional headlights and LED taillights. A ginormous moonroof lets all the sunshine in, and has a huge opening for when you want to let in the air. The seats are leather, heated, and ventilated. Lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, and cross-traffic alert are included. There’s even the obligatory satellite navigation with loads of source options for the infotainment system.
Powering this Tucson is a 1.6L turbocharged engine making 175 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. Sending that power to all four wheels is a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The all-wheel drive system even has hill descent control.
Without the annoyance of a stop start system, the Tucson is rated at 24 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, or 26 mpg combined. During our week of testing, our fuel economy hovered around the 27-28 mpg mark. For an all-wheel drive crossover, that’s better than a lot of the competition.
On paper 175 horsepower doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but it’s adequate for getting the Tucson up to speed and overtaking slower cars. It’s no Charger Hellcat, but I never felt that the car needed more power.
The interior is comfortable and the controls are easy to reach. The quality of most of the materials feels high, but there still is quite a bit of plastic. It’s not bad plastic, but some things had to be less expensive in order to give you so much equipment.
I’d have no problems buying this vehicle and living with it everyday. It’s not perfect, but it’s a solid choice with a fantastic warranty and great fuel economy.
It should also be noted that the Tucson received a ridiculously awesome safety rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, earning their 2016 Top Safety Pick+ award.
There are, however, a couple of small niggles…
The turbocharged engine is great and frugal, but there’s some noticeable turbo lag at lower engine speeds. Power delivery doesn’t feel as linear as some other vehicles, which might be off-putting at first to new drivers.
Also, the dual-clutch transmission is good but not as good as a traditional automatic at certain things. At one point I was on the expressway in stop-and-go traffic due to an accident. In that scenario, the transmission isn’t particularly smooth. The dual-clutch in the Tucson is light years better than that in my own personal Ford Fiesta, but again, might be off-putting to someone who’s never driven a dual-clutch transmission before.
With automatics as good as they are these days, I wonder if Hyundai could’ve got the same mileage out of a traditional automatic and passed on the dual-clutch?
But don’t let those niggles dissuade you from looking at the Tucson. Over the course of the week, I put a significant number of miles on the thing and had no issues. Hyundai has become really good at delivering high quality, versatile vehicles that deliver on price and economy. The Tucson is just another in a long line of great vehicles coming them.
Toyota has a reason to be worried.
- Looks great.
- Excellent price and warranty.
- Great fuel economy for all-wheel drive.
- Dual-clutch transmission during stop-and-go a bit sluggish.