18 Nov 2018

Hyundai Tucson Elite 2.0D 2018 new car review

How does Hyundai's mid-size diesel SUV stack up?
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As with financial recessions, the boom then bust cycle comes knocking on the door of the likes of the 2018 Hyundai Tucson Elite 2.0D.

Several brands have rushed to ditch the diesel engine from their line-ups, citing efficiency improvements to petrol engines and global trends – a politely worded way of explaining the harm caused by Volkswagen’s ‘dieselgate’ emissions saga.

However, diesels are still more effortless and more efficient than even the best equivalent petrols, and that counts when skyrocketing fuel prices confront the buying public. We’ve seen this before, when diesel sales took off in the early 2010s as petrol passed $1 per litre.

Now, with unleaded soaring towards $1.70 in some capital cities to match or surpass diesel, the likes of the Elite 2.0D are in prime position to capitalise on this. Choosing ‘2.0D’ diesel all-wheel drive over ‘1.6T’ petrol all-wheel drive asks $2300 extra in the Tucson medium SUV, though, so is it worth spending more up front to nab an efficiency gain in the long run?

1/10

Vehicle Style: Medium SUV

Price: $43,150 plus on-road costs

Engine/trans: 136kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel 4cyl | eight-speed automatic

Fuel Economy Claimed: 6.4 l/100km Tested: 8.9 l/100km

OVERVIEW

Hyundai’s facelifted medium SUV starts with a new Tucson Go model grade ($28,150/$30,650 plus on-road costs, manual/auto), with a 2.0-litre non-turbo four-cylinder petrol producing 122kW of power and 205Nm torque, and claiming combined-cycle fuel usage of 7.8/7.9 litres per 100 kilometres. For $35,950 (plus orc), the Go can be bought with this 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder with 136kW/400Nm, newly adding two extra gears to make for an eight-speed automatic transmission, and claiming consumption of 6.4L/100km.

In addition to an almost doubling of torque, yet almost a quarter less fuel use, the diesel also gains all-wheel drive. But for over $35K you still only get 17-inch steel wheel with hubcaps, because adding alloy wheels, plus digital radio, satellite navigation, rear parking sensors and leather trim, all require stepping to the Tucson Active X at $31,350/$33,850/$39,150 (plus orc) for the front-drive petrol manual/auto/all-wheel drive diesel respectively.

Enter the Tucson Elite, the only model grade in the range to be available with three engines – the $37,850 (plus orc) 2.0-litre non-turbo front-drive to near-overlap the Active X diesel, a $40,850 (plus orc) 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder all-wheel drive with 130kW/265Nm and claiming 7.7L/100km, or this $43,150 (plus orc) diesel as-tested here.

Plus, equipment such as forward collision alert with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), blind-spot monitor, lane-departure warning with active lane-keep assistance, adaptive cruise control, automatic up/down high-beam, and rear cross-traffic alert become standard. Incidentally, those half-dozen safety features can also team with dual-zone climate control as a $2200-optional Smartsense pack on Go/Active X, if you don’t need the below extra kit.

THE INTERIOR | RATING: 3.5/5

Standard Equipment: Keyless auto-entry with push-button start, electric-fold door mirrors, automatic on/off headlights and wipers, auto up/down high-beam, leather trim with electrically adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control and adaptive cruise control.

Infotainment: 8.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth/USB connectivity, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring, satellite navigation, digital radio and eight speakers.

Options Fitted: None.

Cargo Volume: 488 litres.

Beyond the active safety equipment added over the Active X with Smartsense, as mentioned above, the Elite only further adds 18-inch alloys (replacing 17s), keyless auto-entry with push-button start, auto on/off wipers, and an electrically adjustable driver’s seat.

If you can live without those features, an Active X with Smartsense diesel costs $41,350 (plus orc) and then you’re only $500 beyond an Elite 1.6T petrol. Just as food for thought…

In any case, with this Elite 2.0D diesel it’s disappointing to find that for $43K-plus the likes of an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, heated front seats and an electric tailgate still aren’t standard. You even only get a monochromatic trip computer display, not a colour one.

The Subaru Forester – known value-leader in this class – may no longer be available with a diesel, but even its flagship non-turbo petrol 2.5i-S costs $41,490 (plus orc) and includes most of those features, plus a sunroof, front/side cameras and an electric-adjust passenger seat missing here. If equipment more than performance is the priority, it wins comfortably.

Beyond kit deficiencies, though, the facelifted Tucson’s redesigned interior is impressive.

The soft-touch plastics extend between dashboard and doors, the controls are neatly and logically laid out, and the new 8.0-inch touchscreen boasts a higher resolution and quicker response rate than previously. With easy integrated navigation, a digital radio blaring through the decent Infinity eight-speaker audio, plus the alternative of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring technology, about the only thing missing is voice control for nav.

A clear highlight of the Elite’s interior, though, is its seating. Both front and rear, the cushiness yet supportive nature of each backrest and base feels more lounge than dining chair. Rear passengers will enjoy surplus legroom, with a middle rider’s legs helpfully accommodated by a relatively flat floor and unobtrusive centre console – and one that still includes air vents and a fast-charge USB port.

Add a reclining backrest and wide doors, and this Hyundai offers among the best rear accommodation. The same can’t quite be said for boot volume, though, with the 488-litre space competitive with Forester (498L) and Mazda CX-5 (442L), but not the Honda CR-V (522L) and Peugeot 3008 (591L) that lead the segment.

ON THE ROAD | RATING: 3.5/5

Engine: 136kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel 4cyl.

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, AWD.

Suspension: MacPherson strut front and independent rear.

Brakes: Ventilated front and solid rear disc brakes.

Steering: Electrically assisted mechanical steering.

Swapping out of a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol Tucson, and into this 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, can be illuminating. There is no doubt this Elite 2.0D more tightly hooks up to its eight-speed automatic transmission, versus the seven-speed ‘automated manual’ dual-clutch of the 1.6T.

It also delivers less turbo lag, a continuous surge of forward progress, and at the other extremity a level of low-rpm relaxed cruising that is a hallmark of a good oil-sipper.

What’s also noticeable, however, is how noisy the diesel is compared with a petrol that is smoother and sweeter-sounding, and which just feels more refined overall and arguably a better match for the Tucson’s character. Where the petrol tips the scales at 1593kg, the kerb weight of this diesel is 1707kg, and that additional 114kg also introduces a slight downside.

Every Hyundai medium SUV boasts crisp and direct steering, which errs on the heavier side of ideal, but is still among the most accomplished in the segment. And even this portly Elite is still neatly balanced and engaging when it comes to dynamics, feeling planted and poised.

It’s the ride quality that takes a bit of a hit, if only slightly. Where a petrol Tucson is incredibly plush and lush, ousting the Forester, CX-5, CR-V and 3008 for suspension serenity, this diesel Tucson just jiggles a bit too much at a front end that feels firmer. After all, the springs and dampers do have to prop up a heavier powerplant under the bonnet.

It certainly isn’t a deal breaker, but it does add to the initial impression that a 1.6-litre turbo petrol is the ‘sweet spot’ in the range.

On test, our diesel leapt beyond its 6.4L/100km claim to record 8.9L/100km. In similar conditions, tested the previous week, the petrol’s 7.7L/100km claim jumped to 10.2L/100km. With diesel at $1.63 per litre and petrol at $1.57 per litre at the time of writing, that makes for a $2176 and $2402 fuel spend over 15,000km – about the average Aussies travel each year.

The diesel needs annual or 15,000km servicing, at a cost of $1155 over three years or 45,000km, while the petrol needs annual or 12,000km check-ups, at a cost of $885 to three years or 36,000km, or $1290 should 48,000km (and four years) come up first.

SAFETY

ANCAP rating: 5 stars – this model scored 35.53 out of 37 possible points when tested by ANCAP in 2015.

Safety Features: Six airbags, ABS, electronic stability control (ESC), forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-departure warning with active lane-keep assistance, blind-spot monitor, reverse-view camera, and rear parking sensors with rear cross-traffic alert.

WARRANTY AND SERVICING

Warranty: Five years/unlimited km.

Servicing: With annual or 15,000km intervals, Hyundai’s capped-price servicing program costs $385 for each of the first three check-ups, and

RIVALS TO CONSIDER

The CX-5 Touring diesel is the pick for its sportier dynamics and similar convenience kit, but for a cheaper $41,590 (plus orc), though it lacks adaptive cruise and lane-keep assistance.

The 3008 GT is expensive, at $50K, and only front-wheel drive, but it offers the classiest interior with the biggest boot, plus even better economy and still-excellent ride and handling.

While Subaru doesn’t offer a diesel engine with its new Forester, the admittedly quite slow petrol isn’t sluggish, and its enormously spacious interior is loaded with equipment and benchmark fit-and-finish – worth a look if you’re buying for beyond what’s under the bonnet.

 

  • Mazda CX-5 Touring diesel
  • Peugeot 3008 GT
  • Subaru Forester 2.5i-S

 

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL RATING: 3.5/5

Accomplished and enjoyable, the Tucson Elite diesel isn’t otherwise the pick within Hyundai’s enormous medium SUV range. So let us help you find what is, for $40K-plus…

If diesel torque is a must then an Active X with Smartsense package makes a lot of sense for $350 more than $41K, before on-road costs. The reason why is simple: at over $43K this Elite 2.0D is too close to the not-yet-mentioned Highlander 1.6T at $46,500 (plus orc).

It loads in 19-inch wheels, heated/ventilated front seats, a colour trip computer display, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, wireless phone charging, electric-adjust passenger seat and even an enormous panoramic sunroof for $3350 extra.

It gives the Tucson interior the equipment it deserves, and the petrol engine gives occupants the aural sweetness and suspension smoothness to most enjoy. So, it’s clear then: lower-mid-spec diesel or high-end petrol are the best ways to spend $40K-plus at your Hyundai dealer.

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