Hyundai’s 2016 Tucson has been freshened and redesigned with snazzy styling, the latest technology and a turbocharged engine that is extremely fuel-efficient. And it just so happens to be one of the most affordable compact crossovers on the market.
Falling below Hyundai’s larger Santa Fe size wise, Tucson is offered in SE, Eco (tested), Sport and top line Limited. The base SE comes standard with a 164-hp 2.0L four-cylinder, whereas the Eco gets its power from a new Gamma 1.6L, 175-hp turbocharged four that generates 195 lb/ft of torque starting at a low 1,500 rpm. When coupled to a standard 7-speed Ecoshift dual clutch automatic transmission, it garners EPA mileage estimates of 26 city, 33-highway mpg. Quite impressive for a small four.
Tucson is available in FWD (tested) and AWD, the latter would be preferable here in the Snowbelt. As such it carries slightly less EPA mileage estimates of 25 city, 31-highway mpg, which is still good for 4,784-pound AWD crossover. There’s an Eco and Sport mode switch on the console with the Eco offering the best fuel economy, whereas the Sport mode changes steering feel, transmission and powertrain response for more spirited driving.
Despite all the plastics decorating the redesigned and enlarged (exterior is three inches longer and one inch wider) interior, it sports nice touches like soft, supportive non-heated cloth seats, 5-inch color display with 3.5-inch driver information display, padded console sides to rest the knee’s on long trips, and easy to use HVAC controls. There’s a standard rearview camera but no GPS nav for the display. Opt for the Limited version and it’s included, as is Blue Link telematics (Bluetooth is standard). Of course this is after a low 18-inch step-in whereupon you’ll encounter a somewhat wide 7.5-inch sill. Keep it clean and it won’t soil the back of the pants upon entry.
The back seats fold in 60/40 fashion and the backs recline. Ingress and ingress is easy as is the cargo area that has a nifty feature. Unlike Ford’s Escape that requires a foot pass under the rear bumper to open the liftgate, Tucson’s Smart Power Liftgate opens automatically by merely standing within a few feet of the gate for a few seconds, and with the key fob in pocket or purse. This is nice when the hands are full of shopping bags or other large items.
Cargo capacity is rated at 31 cubic feet or 61.9 with the back seats folded. More meaningful, it measures 34 inches deep, 44 wide and 32.5 high. Flip the seatbacks and there’s 63 inches of depth. Height can be increased by two inches by positioning the removable floor to a lower notch. Underneath the floor is a space saver tire that seems to be the norm these days over a full-size spare. And Hyundai should be commended for maintaining a spare compared to the inflator kits showing up in a lot of cars, even expensive ones.
Performance wise, the little 1.6L engine is peppy and smooth with two adults aboard. Load it with four adults (it’s rated for five) and acceleration is a bit lethargic, until the turbo kicks in.
Tucson handles fairly well for a tall stanced vehicle and it parks rather easily with a 34.9-foot curb-to-curb turning radius. With a ground clearance of 6.4 inches, Tucson is not really off road compatible. But is more than capable in modest snow depths. It also carries a meager 1,000 pound tow rating (without trailer brakes; 1,500 with).
Tucson rides quietly and smoothly. The standard 17-inch Hankook tires give a better ride than the 19s on the Limited.
Now here’s the surprising part. With a long list of standard features both safety and amenity wise, the only extra cost option were floor mats for $125. As such, the base price of $24,150 went to $25,170 with delivery.
Tucson also scored well in crash tests with a “good” rating for narrow-offset cash tests. And it’s tough to beat Hyundai’s 5/60K vehicle warranty, 10/100K powertrain, 7/unlimited perforation and 5/unlimited roadside assistance warranties.