The skinny: Hyundai’s Tucson nameplate returns, but this time in a bigger, more mature package that’s sure to make an impact in the booming medium SUV segment. A rewarding drive and a strong standard features list really make the Tucson shine.
Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Active 2.0 MPi 2WD manual $27,990
Active 2.0 MPi 2WD automatic $30,490
ActiveX 2.0 GDi 2WD manual: $30,490
ActiveX 2.0 GDi 2WD automatic: $32,990
Elite 2.0 MPi 2WD automatic $35,240
Elite 1.6 turbo AWD automatic:$38,240
Elite 2.0 CRDi diesel AWD automatic: $40,240
Highlander 1.6 turbo AWD automatic: $43,490
Highlander 2.0 CRDi diesel AWD automatic: $45,490
2.0 petrol 4cyl | 6spd manual / 6spd auto (final specifications to be confirmed)
121kW/203Nm 2.0 petrol 4cyl | 6spd manual / 6spd auto
130kW/265Nm 1.6 turbo petrol 4cyl | 7spd auto
136kW/400Nm 2.0 turbo diesel 4cyl | 6spd auto
Fuel Economy claimed:
2.0 GDI - 7.9 l/100km | tested: 8.3 l/100km
1.6 Turbo - 7.7 l/100km | tested: 9.7 l/100km
2.0 CRDI 6.8 l/100km | tested: not recorded
Hyundai’s Tucson SUV has returned. The name was first seen here between 2004 and 2010 on a small ‘city SUV’ - an almost unheard-of concept at the time.
The one that followed it might be more familiar to you as the ix35 - and certainly a success for Hyundai here. But with this third-generation car the Tucson name returns.
The car also steps up a size. It now sits in the 'Medium SUV' segment where it wages war against the perennial favourites, RAV4 and CX-5.
Once the full range launches, buyers will be able to pick from three petrol engines and one diesel, auto and manual transmissions, and front or all wheel drive. making it Hyundai's most comprehensive SUV line-up yet.
In what can only be a massive stroke of irony, the Tucson - named after the American city situated in the scorching Sonoran Desert - was launched in NSW's snow covered Alpine region in and around Thredbo… desert indeed.
With the base model Active still to arrive in Australia, our introduction was via ActiveX, Elite and Highlander models.
The variety of open highway, winding roads, and patches of mud, snow, and gravel selected for the launch route turned out to be the ideal setting to show what Hyundai’s newest SUV is capable of.
- ActiveX: Rear view camera, rear park sensors, dusk-sensing headlights, leather seats, seven-inch touchscreen w/MP3 capability, Bluetooth phone and audio, six speakers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, electric heated and folding mirrors, multifunction steering wheel with cruise control and audio buttons, projector beam headlights, roof rails, 18-inch alloy wheels.
- Elite adds: Ten-way electric driver’s seat, electric park brake, dual-zone climate control, eight-inch touch screen, auto wipers, auto-opening powered tailgate, rain-sensing wipers, mirror mounted indicators, and privacy glass. (cloth seat trim and 17-inch alloy wheels, and no smartphone mirroring)
- Highlander adds: Front park sensors, six-way powered passenger seat, tyre pressure monitoring, panoramic glass sunroof, partial LED taillamps, leather appointed seats, 4.2-inch TFT LCD display in instrument cluster, lane keeping assist system, autonomous emergency braking, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot detection with lane change assist, heated and cooled front seats, and 19” alloy wheels.
- Luggage capacity: 488 litres minimum, 1478 litres maximum
The Tucson makes a great first impression. Jump into the driver’s seat and the view ahead is a world apart from the fussy interior of the ix35.
The dash design is simple but sophisticated. The layout of switchgear and controls is measured and easy to master.
The influence of Sonata and Genesis is obvious. Hyundai isn’t quite pushing into premium territory with the Tucson just yet - but it may be treading on a few toes.
There are some anomalies - like leather trim in the ActiveX, reverting to cloth trim on the Elite, then back to leather for the Highlander. Apart from that, and the varying alloy wheel sizes, the specification seems well matched to each price point.
Behind the wheel the view is commanding, but the seating position feels comfortably car-like. Outwards visibility is fairly good, and the big mirrors help fill the gap created by the bulky D-pillar.
The reclining rear seat can be used to either boost cargo volume or increase passenger comfort. To put it to the test, we put a six-footer behind a six-footer, and found head and legroom to be up to the job.
Infotainment is taken care of by a the seven-inch touchscreen in Active and ActiveX, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is a part of the system too.
Right now those cars ship without the system, but a download will score you the required software - Apple from September and Android early in 2016.
Elite and Highlander do without the phone-mirroring capability, but screen size steps up to eight-inch and satellite navigation comes standard.
Boot space measures 488 litres minimum with the rear seat reclined, all the way to 1478 litres with the backrest folded out of the way.
ON THE ROAD
- 2.0 petrol MPI petrol inline four | six-speed manual or six-speed automatic (final specifications to be confirmed)
- 121kW/203Nm 2.0 GDI petrol inline four | six-speed manual or six-speed automatic
- 130kW/265Nm 1.6 turbo petrol inline four | seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
- 136kW/400Nm 2.0 turbo diesel inline four | six speed automatic
- Front wheel drive: Active, ActiveX, Elite (2.0). All wheel drive: Elite (1.6t, 2.0 diesel), Highlander
- MacPherson strut front suspension, Multi-link rear suspension
- 305mm ventilated front disc brakes, 302mm solid rear disc brakes
- Towing capacity: 1600kg braked/750kg unbraked. Towball weight 120kg FWD/140kg AWD
Until the base model Active arrives, the ActiveX functions as the entry point to the range, and that’s where we started our drive.
Although we didn’t get to sample the six-speed manual, the six-speed auto on test is closer to the spec many buyers will choose.
With a 2.0 litre direct-injection four-cylinder motor borrowed from the i30, the Tucson varies slightly with outputs of 121kW at 6200rpm and 203Nm of torque at 4700rpm.
The launch route sent us into the hills of the NSW Alpine region; not quite mountain goat territory, but enough for the drivetrain to flex its muscles.
Starting out in Canberra, the ActiveX proved to have a spring in its step and there was no sign of lethargy moving off from a standstill.
Out on the open road ,the 2.0 litre naturally aspirated engine settles into a muted hum, with the six-speed auto smoothly and quietly shifting through gears.
Hit the hills though, and the whole system has to work a little harder. However, the six-speed tranmission is quick to pluck a lower gear and keep things moving.
On steeper sections, fourth gear proved the best option while keeping the tacho close to the 4700rpm torque peak.
At about that point, the otherwise civil engine starts to sound a little thrashy, but it spins freely enough to keep errant vibrations to a minimum.
The diesel engine available in Elite and Highlander escaped our grasp on this occasion, but we’ll bring you a more in-depth look at the diesel drivetrain once it passes through the TMR garage.
Those looking for more oomph however, will be well served by the 1.6 litre turbocharged petrol, available exclusively with all-wheel-drive and a seven speed dual-clutch transmission. Both Elite and Highlander are available with this engine.
Peak power is 130kW at 5500rpm. That’s just 8kW more than the 2.0 engine; the real gain however is torque with 265Nm available between 1500 and 4500rpm.
As a result of the more accessible torque, the gearbox seems not to have to work quite so hard out on the open road - and it can hustle along when you're looking for a quick burst of speed.
The extra urge is apparent when overtaking or running uphill. Certainly more confidence inspiring in the rough stuff thanks to the all-wheel-drive grip too.
Low speed work however - carparks and the like - still isn’t a dual-clutch strength. In the 1.6 turbo Tuscon, there’s no jolting and shunting, but the transmission does feel a little ‘fuzzy’ at times.
Part of our drive took us through slick muddy paths and across rutted gravel. Drive is sent to the rear wheels on demand, but through some of the more boggy parts of the course, the system was quick enough to intervene before we got that sinking feeling.
For really rough going a 50/50 lock mode is also available.
Once the trail dried out and we could pick up the pace over corrugated gravel, we discovered just how well adapted the Australian-specific suspension tuning is.
Without skipping, stuttering, or skating, the Tucson kept faithful contact with the road surface where lesser SUVs would certainly struggle to keep up.
There’s also a nicely judged weight to the steering, and decent feedback through the wheel to bolster that feeling of security.
ANCAP rating: This Vehicle has yet to be tested by ANCAP
Safety features: All models feature traction and stability control, hill start assist and downhill brake control, ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, rear park sensors and a rear view camera.
Six airbags (dual front, front seat side, and full-length curtain), three point seat belts for all seats, front load-limiting pretensioners, height adjustable head restraints, three top-tether child seat anchorages and two ISOFIX mounting points are also included.
Additional safety equipment on Highlander includes autonomous emergency braking, tyre pressure monitoring, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, front park sensors, rear cross traffic alert, and blind spot monitoring.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Tucson enters a busy marketplace, but is able to stand up for itself against some respectably established competition.
Both RAV4 and CX-5 offer a choice of petrol and diesel engines, and Outlander comes with a fuel-saving plug-in hybrid variant. Others may prefer the more rugged reputation of a Forester or the go-anywhere capability of the Cherokee.
- Toyota RAV4
- Mazda CX-5
- Mitsubishi Outlander
- Subaru Forester
- Jeep Cherokee
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
With a range of engines and drivetrains to suit all tastes, Hyundai's new Tucson certainly has buyers covered for choice.
Yes, prices are up across the board on the ix35 it replaces, however there’s quite a bit more extra equipment and extra space to offset the difference.
This car is sure to be a runaway success for Hyundai. At this stage Australian supply is without constraint, but it’s hard to believe it’ll stay that way once this model gains traction globally.
Party tricks aren’t limited to a sharply drawn exterior, and a contemporary and comfortable interior. The Tucson can also claim well sorted dynamics and decent on-road (and mild off-road) verve.
There’s not an out-of-place model in the range. Buyers seeking a medium SUV now have a new option to consider, and it’s a solidly good one at that.
The Tucson range launches with the ActiveX, Elite and Highlander grades initially available, with the Active model to be added later in the year.
- Active 2.0 MPi 2WD manual $27,990
- Active 2.0 MPi 2WD automatic $30,490
- ActiveX 2.0 GDi 2WD manual: $30,490
- ActiveX 2.0 GDi 2WD automatic: $32,990
- Elite 2.0 MPi 2WD automatic $35,240
- Elite 1.6 turbo AWD automatic:$38,240
- Elite 2.0 CRDi diesel AWD automatic: $40,240
- Highlander 1.6 turbo AWD automatic: $43,490
- Highlander 2.0 CRDi diesel AWD automatic: $45,490
All prices do not include on-road costs