Resting on your laurels in the mid-size SUV segment isn’t easy, with a new rival and sharpened competition never far behind. For Hyundai, its 2018 Tucson isn’t the generational update of some of its recent models such as the i30 and Santa Fe, so will a nip and tuck, tweaks underneath the skin and new technology be enough to keep it fighting near the top of the segment ladder.
Vehicle Style: Mid-size SUV
Price: From $28,150 plus on-road costs
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder or 1.6-litre turbo petrol, 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 122kW (2.0), 130kW (1.6T) or 136kW (2.0D)
Torque: 205Nm (2.0), 265Nm (1.6T) or 400Nm (2.0D)
Transmission: Six-speed (2.0), seven-speed (1.6T) or eight speed (2.0D) auto, all-wheel-drive
Fuel use: From 7.8L/100km (2.0), 7.7L/100km (1.6T) or 6.4L/100km (2.0D)
The range continues to be offered in four different model grades but with a slight change in nomenclature – the entry model Active is now badged the Go, so the ActiveX above it doesn’t sound like such a minor upgrade. Plusher Elite and Highlander trims continue to top the range.
The same three engine options also carry on, starting with a base 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol which develops torque earlier on than before, the same 2.0-litre turbo diesel with a new eight-speed automatic transmission and a slightly less powerful 1.6-litre turbo petrol that’s only available on Elite and Highlander model grades. While the drivetrains remain similar or the same as before – with a mix of six-speed manual, automatic and seven-speed dual-clutch transmissions available – the chassis has undergone further local tuning to find the sweet spot on our roads.
Expanding elsewhere on its revisions are improvements to standard equipment starting with the Go, which gets a 7.0-inch infotainment system with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, reversing camera, fabric interior trim, manually adjustable seats, automatic LED headlights and 17-inch steel wheels. The ActiveX, the previous best-selling model, changes the wheels for nicer-looking 17-inch alloys and adds a larger 8.0-infotainment display, rear parking sensors, leather trimmed interior, Infinity eight-speaker sound system and a rear seat USB port. Pricing for the manual-equipped Go starts at $28,150 plus on-road costs while opting for an automatic adds $2500 and the ActiveX grade is a further $700 on top of that. Both don’t come with five-star ANCAP rating-essential AEB, but it can be optioned with the Smart Sense pack at $2200. The pack also adds adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic collision warning and automatic high-beam assist.
At the top of the tree the Elite gets the Smart Sense pack as standard and additional 18-inch alloys, power driver’s seat, rain sensing wipers, tinted windows, luggage net in the rear and chrome ascents throughout. The Highlander adds further with 19-inch alloys, panoramic sunroof, wireless phone charging, power passenger seat, heated steering wheel, twin-tip exhaust outlets and heated and ventilated front seats. Pricing for the models starts from $37,850 and $46,500 respectively with an automatic transmission only.
Although it appears similar to before at a glance, some tweaks inside freshen the range – a floating infotainment tablet is consistent with the brand’s latest models, and new features such as a wireless mobile phone charging pad, rear USB port and heated steering wheel keep the model competitive with rival kit. Not as large as some mid-size rivals, the Tucson compromises space in a second row roomy enough for kids and baby seats, but not particularly comfortable for adults. The front pews continue to feel airy however, with good shoulder room and a nice range of adjustment on the driver’s seat while the boot remains 488-litres large - a good size in this segment. The infotainment system is easy at a practical distance away for touch input and is supplemented by simple Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, though 10-year map update-supported sat nav does come standard. The trick in model grades is the change across trim and seat support – the ActiveX at a small premium already gets leather but it isn’t until the most expensive Highlander that the passenger seat has electric adjustment, though that model gets heated and ventilated seats and for the first time a heated steering wheel.
ON THE ROAD
As always, some of the Tucson’s success in Australia is down to local tuning which goes a long way to helping it feel ‘right’ on our diverse roads. Our local launch drive was comprehensive and included a mix of highway roads, small town manoeuvres and twisting gravel – a bit of everything the travelling family or wandering couple might find. And as before, the Tucson shows off on the road with a comfortable ride and good body control. The ride is compliant and bump absorption good, but an underlying athletic stability holds up when pushing on. Elite models with 18-inch alloys and a 1.6-litre turbocharged motor provided the best blend of performance, looks and comfort, with only larger bumps feeling a touch fragile over the front wheels. The base 2.0-litre GDI engine lacks the energetic nature of the turbo and isn’t going to enjoy hauling a packed car around, but like the turbo motor it delivered an easier and more natural driving experience by being put into sport mode that shifts gears earlier on.
Around town the dual-clutch automatic that’s mated exclusively to the 1.6 -litre turbo was smooth but on two occasions felt lazy to get into first gear, proving frustrating when driving in traffic.
Topping the range for power is the 2.0-litre diesel motor but it doesn’t feel as spritely low down as the turbo petrol and is noisiest of the bunch – even with the fastest 0-100km/h claim of 6.4 seconds.
Engines are mated to either a front or all-wheel drive system and both provide good traction, though the all-wheel drive has naturally superior handling on slippery surfaces.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
As expected for a mid-life cycle update the Tucson gets only subtle upgrades and a fresher face to keep it relevant, but the inclusion of AEB from the base, or at least the second-tier ActiveX, would really push its value against key rivals. Otherwise, it’s business as usual, and the Tucson is still good value and a great drive.
- Interested in buying Hyundai Tucson? Visit our Hyundai showroom for more information.