The compact SUV market is competitive one. If you want to be a player, you have to bring a competitive product to market or dealers will have inventory on their lots that they can’t sell. In the case of Hyundai, they’ve got something that I guarantee won’t stay on dealer lots for long in the form of the 2016 Hyundai Tucson. I got the 1.6L Limited AWD trim level to drive around for a day thanks to Hyundai Of Oakville, and I have to say that I walked away impressed.
Let me start with the outside. One thing that I should note is that my review unit was just pulled off the truck, so it still had a lot of the stickers and the like from being transported to the dealership:
From the front, it looks really sharp and modern. I have to admit that that this look really works for this vehicle. Consider me a fan of what Hyundai calls Fluidic Sculpture 2.0. You get HID Headlights with Dynamic Bending Light which is Hyundai speak for the headlights ability to bend around corners. The foglights have LEDs in them that act as the daytime running lights.
From the side it looks muscular. It sort of reminds me of the Hyundai Genesis that I drove last year.
The rear continues the muscular look and the chrome tailpipe is really cool looking.
Plus the tail lights look really cool.
Exterior wise, everything was put together well and the build quality is excellent. There’s nothing to complain about here. It’s easy to see why they placed fourth in the JD Power 2015 US Initial Quality Study.
This particular Tucson is powered by a 1.6L turbocharged 4 cylinder engine that puts out 175 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission that pushes the power to all four wheels via an AWD system. If you prefer, you can lock the torque-split yourself for a continuous 50/50 power split between the front and rear axles as long as you stay below 30 km/h. If this is too much power for you, there’s a 2.0L engine that is good for 164 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a 6-speed automatic. But take it from me, you want the 1.6L as I never found myself wanting for power when merging onto highways or trying to pass a car on the highway. The dual clutch transmission shifted without drama and it always felt like it was in the right gear. You can shift it yourself if you want to, but you shouldn’t bother as it does well all by itself. One thing that I’d like to point out is the lack of paddle shifters. Without them you have to shift with the gear shift. You also get the ability to switch between three driving modes. Normal mode isn’t exciting, but it’s a good balance between fuel economy and power. Then there’s Eco which absolutely dulls the driving experience to save you gas. The real fun can be found in Sport mode which sharpens the throttle response along with the steering and makes the dual clutch transmission shift more aggressively. To add to the fun while you’re in any driving mode is the fact that the AWD system uses torque vectoring to allow torque to be redistributed along the rear axle to the wheel that has best traction, and will brake the inside rear wheel to mitigate understeer. Potholes and road imperfections were soaked up with a minimum of fuss or suspension noise. You’d have to go over something really severe to really send shockwaves up your backside. It feels solid, and it it is largely quiet. Only a minimal amount of road noise makes its way into the cabin and wind noise really only appears at highway speeds. Even then, it’s minimal. Handling is good as I found it to be easy to maneuver and there’s more than enough road feel for me to know what the Tucson was doing underneath me. Though I will note that if you take an on-ramp too fast, you’ll be reminded that this is a compact SUV in a hurry.
Let’s move to the interior:
The window and side mirror controls are on the armrest. By the way the metallic door handle and lock is a really classy touch.
The driver and passenger seats are made of leather and are heated. The driver’s seat is 8-way power driver seat with 2-way power lumbar adjustment. The drivers seat was very comfortable. Though if I could make a minor observation, it could use a bit more bolstering on the sides.
There are controls to the left of the steering wheel for lighting and the electronic overseers. It also has the button that allows you to open the rear hatch.
The steering wheel is a very good size and is heated and leather wrapped. It also has controls for your phone, audio, and cruise control.
I’m zooming in on this part of the steering wheel to highlight a small but significant detail. The volume control can be pushed to mute audio. That doesn’t sound like a big deal until you get into a car and you can’t figure out how to mute the radio in any other way than to crank the volume down.
The gauges are clear and easy to read. They are also highly customizable as you can set up the center portion of the gauge cluster to display the info that you want.
There’s a 8″ touchscreen with a suite of buttons that allow you quick access to the infotainment systems functions. That’s something that I really appreciate. You also get the HVAC controls below the touchscreen which gives you dual zone climate control.
Here’s the shift lever which is leather wrapped. To the right you get two cupholders. There’s also a coin holder below the shift lever and above the cup holder. You’ll also note that above the shift lever is a cubby that has a USB port and an AUX in port.
Here’s a look at the cubby that is big enough to hold an iPhone 6 Plus. You also get a pair of 12V jacks along with the AUX in and USB ports.
As you can see, the cupholders will hold a Starbucks Venti sized drink.
Behind the shifter are the controls for Drive Mode, locking the AWD system, turning off the Rear Park Assist System, and setting the Downhill Brake Control.
There’s a deep storage area in the center console.
A lit glove box is really handy to have.
There’s bottle holders in the doors. My wife really like that as she considers that to be a key requirement for any car that she owns.
There’s a massive sunroof that reminds me of the one found in the Genesis.
The rear seats are made of leather. They recline and are heated. Plus you can flip down the center section to reveal an armrest with cupholders. The seats also fold down in a 60/40 manner. I should note that there is plenty of headroom and legroom back here and nobody will complain about being in the back.
There’s a HVAC vent for rear seat passengers.
Rear cargo area is plentiful. You will have no issue getting your cargo into the Tucson. The hatch is powered and it has a handy feature. Simply stand behind it with the key fob on your person and it will open. That’s a feature that’s straight off the Genesis that you’ll really like. Theres a false-floor that opens up an additional 5.1 cm of depth if you need it. Under that false floor resides a spare tire.
All the materials inside the Tucson are top notch and are put together well. There’s soft touch material all over and I found nothing to complain about interior wise.
When it comes to the safety tech, you get the following:
- Front Airbags, Front Seat-Mounted Side Airbags and Roof Mounted Side Curtain with Rollover Sensor
- Anti-lock Braking System with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist
- Downhill Brake Control and Hill Start Control
- Vehicle Stability Management with and Traction Control
- Blind Spot Detection system with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist
- Rear Park Assist System with backup camera (which is exposed to the elements)
This a very extensive suite of safety tech that will make sure that your new Tucson stays shiny side up as well as keep you safe. If that’s not enough, there’s three additional options that are part of the Ultimate trim level that are worth mentioning:
- Autonomous Emergency Braking (the Tucson will stop itself if you don’t react quickly enough to a dangerous situation)
- Forward Collision Warning (It will warn you if you don’t react quickly enough to a dangerous situation)
- Lane Departure Warning System
Now over to the infotainment system. Hyundai has a winner here with an 8″ touch screen with redundant controls and a logical layout that makes the operation of this system via tap and swipe gestures a breeze. I should also mention that pairing my phone took a minute and plugging my iPhone 6 which is running iOS 9 into the system via USB allowed me to browse playlists and see album art. Let me highlight the fact that the system worked with an mobile OS from Apple that was out for precisely one day when I tested the Tucson. Impressive! Navigation is excellent. Verbal directions are clear and it has lane guidance (it tells you what lane or lanes that you need to be in) and even replicates road signs including speed limits and highway signs. It’s also easy to enter addresses into the system. You can get traffic alerts as well via a subscription package with Sirius XM if you want to make the system even smarter. So, what’s the only negative….. If you want to call it that? While you’re driving, the system limits what you can do to keep you focused on the road. If you want to do anything interesting, you’ll be forced to use the voice guidance (which works well, but can be slow when recognizing words) or pull over. I completely understand why Hyundai did that, and given the fact that distracted driving laws are becoming more strict in most places it’s likely a good thing. But I am certain that it will annoy someone out there.
The sound system inside the Tucson is top notch. Besides having the usual AM/FM radio, Sirrus XM and access to the music on your phone and the like, it comes with 8 speakers which make all that music sound amazing. Music was crisp and well defined and bass was notably impressive. I should also note that regardless of where you were sitting, this was the case.
Fuel economy is the last point on my list to look at. The specs say that I should get 9.9L/100km in the city, 8.4L/100 km on the highway, and 9.2L/100 km combined. I got 8.8L/100 km in mixed city and highway driving. That’s pretty good!
So, what does the 2016 Hyundai Tucson 1.6L Limited go for? List price is $36,649 CDN. But the Tucson starts at $24,399 CDN with the 2.0L engine and front wheel drive. There’s also a trim level above the Limited which is called the Ultimate which goes for $39,599 CDN. Whatever configuration you choose, Hyundai has a compact SUV which will scare the completion to death. In every way that I could look at this vehicle from, it is a quality vehicle that’s also a good value. The competition will take one look a the Tucson and realize that they need to up their game if they want to avoid having their products sit on their dealer’s lots.
UPDATE: For some reason, an earlier revision of this story was posted which had some content missing. The proper version is now online.
UPDATE #2: I’ve posted a follow up to this review with additional pictures and details.