Packing quite a punch in the sports utility vehicle market is the rough and ready Tucson. Available in two or four wheel drive, it delivers a great ride and will certainly put a sense of adventure back into your driving experiences.
The goodLooks, economy, technology and handling
The badQuite thirsty petrol engines
Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Premium SE manual 2WD (2019)
Hyundai has upped the ante in the compact family SUV sector with the arrival of its latest Tucson model that’s very big on style, handling and technology … and it needs to be when competing against the likes of the Nissan Qashqai and SEAT Ateca.
New Tucson is much sharper in appearance than its predecessor with dynamic styling, and for anyone with an eye on economy, there is a new mild hybrid version that features a 48-volt electric battery.
However, we opted for the range-topping Premium SE model powered by a 1.6 T-GDi petrol engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. This turbocharged powertrain pumps out a hefty 177PS with 265Nm of torque, so it’s not lacking when it comes to fire-power.
In fact, the Tucson can complete the 0 to 62mph sprint in a very respectable 9.2 seconds and goes onto a top speed of 126mph while delivering combined fuel economy of 37.7mpg with carbon emissions of 168g/km.
The car is more athletic in its styling thanks to the introduction of Hyundai’s trademark Cascading grille. There are also new bumpers, improved full LED headlights, upgraded rear lights and freshly designed tail pipes.
The designers have also given the interior quite a make-over as you will notice the second you take your seat behind the multi-function steering wheel. There is a redesigned dashboard, a floating touchscreen and plenty of creature comforts to explore along the way.
Techno treats on our car, which was priced at £29,970, included a pitch perfect Krell sound system with eight speakers and a subwoofer, an eight-inch touchscreen navigation system with traffic messaging channel and live services, full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a wireless phone charging pad, air conditioning, powered seats, Bluetooth, a sunroof, parking sensors plus a surround view monitor.
The Tucson certainly has a modern, upmarket feel to it with smart leather upholstery and plenty of soft touch surfaces, and all the dials and controls are practically positioned for ease of use too.
When it comes to performance, the punchy petrol engine delivers ample power, and the acceleration through the smooth six-speed gearbox is nice and responsive. This helps to makes light work of overtaking slower moving vehicles. The car also cruises effortlessly eating up the motorways miles and is a comfortable place to be even after several hours behind the wheel.
Out on the country lanes, the Tucson’s road holding is assured and the car is beautifully poised and balanced. It is not as high as some family SUVs so any body sway into tight bends or corners is kept to a minimum.
The latest Tucson is also fitted with Hyundai’s impressive Flex Steer power steering system that allows you to choose between Normal or Sport. In the Normal setting, little steering effort is required, but in the Sport mode the wheel feels far heavier, which is better suited to faster driving.
The driver benefits from a slightly elevated seating position which is good for visibility, although the Tucson does have quite wide B pillars which hinders the over-the-shoulder view a little.
That was my only slight gripe really, apart from the fuel economy – I was struggling to get close to the official 37.7mpg even when I followed all the on-screen gear shift prompts and was eventually achieving between 32.0 to 33.0mpg – on a good day!
Being a family SUV you would expect storage options to be thorough inside the Tucson and they are. The boot has a capacity of 513 litres that can be increased to 1,503 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. There is a powered tailgate, along with lots of handy storage compartments scattered throughout the car, such as an illuminated glovebox with cooling function, deep door bins, front and rear cup holders, a central cubby box and a sunglasses holder.
Another plus point is safety. The vehicle was awarded the maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating and boasts the likes of autonomous emergency braking, brake assist, lane keep assist, blind spot detection, high beam assist, rear cross traffic alert, vehicle stability management, downhill brake control, hill-start assist, and a number of airbags. There is also trailer stability assist to help prevent or reduce any swaying when pulling a trailer or caravan.
The Tucson is Hyundai’s biggest selling vehicle in the UK and with the launch of the new model, the Korean car maker has certainly turned up the heat in the compact family SUV sector.
Hyundai Tucson Premium 2.0 CRDI 136PS Manual 4WD
The fiercely competitive compact SUV market is constantly expanding and it really takes something special for a car to stand out these days – the Hyundai Tucson may just have that little bit of je ne sais quois … so to speak!
We are constantly informed that the ‘soft-roaders’ are very adept when venturing from the reassurances of the Tarmac, but these claims are rarely put to the test.
However, that rare opportunity developed totally unexpectedly during my week-long test drive behind the wheel of the new Hyundai Tucson. Now I say new, but some may already be very familiar with the Tucson name as it was part of the Hyundai line-up until 2009. It was replaced by the ix35 and now in a quirky twist of fate the Tucson has replaced the ix35.
The car looks great from any angle with its bold, athletic stance and numerous eye-catching design cues such as 19-inch alloys, roof rails, body-coloured bumpers, front and rear skid plates, twin exhausts, rear spoiler with integrated brake light, LED daytime running lights, body coloured door handles and mirrors, privacy glass, fog lights and plenty more beside.
It would be fair to say in a world where the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage and newly-introduced Renault Kadjar are vying for SUV sales, the Tucson can easily hold its own in the styling stakes, but there’s more!
And so it was that I ventured off to the Goodwood Festival of Speed in my pristine Tucson with its shiny Moon Rock coloured paintwork. The festival coincided with Glastonbury which was deemed one of the wettest on record and it meant that in order to reach car parking spaces I had to drive the car across one of the boggiest fields imaginable – more like a quagmire if I’m being truthful.
Numerous cars were becoming trapped and the deep mud ruts were getting more difficult to tackle by the minute. However, after engaging the Tucson’s Lock AWD mode it conquered the 600 metre track without any major issues. Admittedly it did slip and slide a little, but there was certainly no drama to speak of and I could watch on with a sense of smugness as the Land Rovers pulled out the marooned cars along with their helpless and somewhat embarrassed drivers along the way.
So following that experience I can definitely vouch for the off-road capabilities of the Tucson, but it offers so much more along the way. The interior is incredibly premium in its design and layout and absolutely jam-packed with technology, including the likes of an 8-inch touchscreen with sat nav, reversing camera, Bluetooth connectivity, a six speaker sound system, dual zone climate control, leather trimmed seats that can be heated and electrically adjusted and a list that seems to go on and on.
The test car was powered by a 2.0-litre 136PS diesel engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. It can sprint from 0-62mph in 10.9 seconds, maxes out at 114mph; it can achieve combined fuel economy of 54.3mpg with carbon emissions of 139g/km.
The handling is beautifully nimble for a car of its size and corners can be approached at a reasonable speed too as there is no body roll and the sure-footed road holding and direct steering will keep you firmly on course. And another bonus is the lack of any road surface, engine or wind noise to be heard within the cabin.
All-round comfort levels are very high with ample leg, head and shoulder space for three adults to stretch out in the rear. Hyundai has also ensured all storage concerns are quelled thanks to a generously-sized boot with a 488-litre capacity that is easily increased to 1,478 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. Elsewhere there is a glovebox, cup holders, (two in the rear armrest too), a deep central bin, sunglasses holder and practical door pockets.
The driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility thanks to a high seated position which is a notable plus factor in a family car and the Tucson is also packed with a comprehensive list of safety features which helped it achieve the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP safety ratings.
All in all, the new Hyundai Tucson Premium, priced at £29,045, is up against some tough opposition in this fiercely competitive segment, but it has already proved that it’s ready for a scrap and doesn’t mind getting dirty in the process.
Hyundai Tucson 2.0 CRTD CDX 5dr (pre-2009)
It may be smaller than its sports utility vehicle siblings, but make no mistake the Hyundai Tucson is big on performance and big on quality.
Boasting eye-catching good looks and plenty of top notch creature comforts the Tucson also delivers a really good ride both in town and out on the open road.
The light and spacious cabin can easily accommodate five adults along with all their luggage requirements thanks to the generously-sized boot area.
There is a high-seated driving position which means excellent all round visibility and the Tucson is very nimble and agile in congested city centre traffic.
Then, out on the open road, the 2.0-litre engine delivers plenty of power and the vast array of quality features throughout simply add to the all-round enjoyment.
There is, for example, a very efficient climate control system, an electric sunroof, heated front seats, cruise control, a great CD and audio system, double folding 60/40 split rear seats, dazzling alloys and attention-grabbing roof rails to add to the rugged appearance.
And peace of mind is assisted by the comprehensive list of safety equipment Hyundai has kitted the Tucson out with.
It includes anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control, power steering, six airbags and a great security system to keep away any uninvited attention.
But for me the real attraction of this vehicle is its very competitive price. Hyundai realises the SUV market is a very competitive one and has endeavoured to keep the costs down.
So much so in fact, that there are very few additional costs on the Tucson, so you get a fantastic spec list as standard.
And you also get the only five year unlimited mileage fully-transferable warranty in the 4×4 segment.
Now that could make one or two rivals sit up and listen methinks!