Hyundai’s Tucson is a good looking, well equipped mid-size SUV. It’s been around for a few years so it’s a known commodity and, along with a few tweaks to the styling, the pricing has been sharpened since it was first released. In all, the Tucson ticks the comfort and practicality boxes, but the top of the range Highlander is where this popular mid-size SUV alive.
What’s it cost?
You can get into a Tucson for as little as $28,150 plus on-road costs for the entry-level Go and stump up to $48,800 for the flagship Highlander with diesel engine.
In the middle ground is the Tucson Elite, priced from $37,850 plus on-road costs. Sure, it misses out on some luxury items such as a sunroof, heated seats and an electric tailgate, but it can be equipped with all-wheel drive and turbocharged performance.
In the $40k bracket is the Tucson Highlander which is arguably worth the upgrade if you can afford it. Not only do you get those three aforementioned luxury and convenience items, but it also adds a panoramic size of glass roof, ventilated front seats, an electrically adjustable passenger seat, larger 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and tail-lights, front parking sensors, wireless smartphone charging and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
The Tucson comes with appealing list of features, with keyless auto-entry and push-button start, adaptive cruise control, leather, 8.0-inch touchscreen with digital radio, satellite navigation and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring technology.
What’s interior like?
The Tucson most closely challenges SUVs like the popular Toyota Rav4, Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V, the Peugeot 3008 and Volkswagen Tiguan.
All those rivals get similar goodies, but the Hyundai is right up there for cabin material choice and quality, while surpassing most for seat comfort both front and rear. The front chairs are like cushy armchairs, yet they still offer impressive grip and plenty of adjustment. Likewise, the broad rear bench with a reclining backrest.
Both rear legroom and headroom are plentiful, the view forward (and up) is expansive, while a fast-charge USB port below the rear air vents is a nice touch. Roomier than the CX-5, and plusher than the 3008 and Tiguan, it cedes only some sprawling space to the huge CR-V.
While not the absolute biggest boot in the segment, the Hyundai’s 466-iltres is capacious and fine for fitting a big pram and some bags. The Tucson doesn’t get a sliding bench, but its 60:40-split-backrest folds effortlessly, and its luggage-to-people ratio remains impressive.
What’s the engine like?
Entry level models use a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine, producing 122kW of power and 205Nm of torque through either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Fuel consumption is 7.8L per 100km, and it’s a solid choice for an entry-level drivetrain.
Further up the range, we see the 1.6-litre turbo engine, making a punchy 130kW and 265Nm of torque without much sacrifice to fuel consumption at 7.7L per 100km.
There’s also a diesel turbo, making 136kW and 400Nm. While it’s the priciest engine choice, it’s a good motor with plenty of get up and go. And it’s the most frugal, using 6.4L of diesel per 100km.
What’s it like to drive?
Because the base petrol engine isn’t too powerful, it rarely overwhelms this Hyundai’s highly competent chassis. Yet with all-wheel drive as standard, you can use up every bit of what the 1.6-litre turbo offers, more of the time, compared with a front-wheel drive sedan.
If you’re after a vehicle that’s effortless to drive, the Tucson is hard to beat.
This medium SUV embraces its higher ride height and taller roll centre compared with a passenger car, too. It’s quite short from tip-to-toe, only 4.5 metres long, so it has the agile and enjoyably balanced feel of a big hatchback rather than a bloated faux-off-roader.
The steering is nice and light when manoeuvring around carparks but weights up nicely on the open roads, offering good feel and feedback. While it’s no sports car, the Tucson is certainly well-balanced between confident drive quality and smooth ride on long trips. In fact, in the context of a family car, this Highlander has got its priorities right, by offering clearly the best ride quality in this segment.
It’s the balance of comfort and control that impresses most about Hyundai’s Australian-tuned suspension, with the Tucson delivering the finest examples of spring and damper tuning in the whole line-up.
How safe is it?
The Tucson holds a five-star ANCAP rating.
Standard safety features on the Tucson Go include six airbags, ABS, Brake Assist, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Downhill Brake Control, Hill-Start Assist Control, Traction Control System, Vehicle Stability Management, Emergency Stop Signal, rear-view camera with dynamic guide lines, two ISOFIX anchors and three top tether child-seat anchors.
Safety on upper models include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop & Go, Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) System, Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW), Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning (RCCW) and High Beam Assist (HBA).