The Tucson is Hyundai's entry into the hot compact crossover market. It competes against vehicles like the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4 and is similar in design to the Kia Sportage. The Tucson was redesigned for 2016 and slots in as one of the smaller compact crossovers. It seats 5 and comes with front- or all-wheel drive.
The 2016 Tucson comes in four flavors with one of two engines. SE comes with a 164-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. ECO, Sport and Limited come with a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 175 horsepower. Both engines pair with a CVT automatic transmission.
Prices start at $22,700 for the SE and range up to $31,300 for the Limited AWD. The Tucson is built in South Korea and comes with an $895 destination charge.
As Hyundai's smallest crossover, Tucson pulls dual duty, fighting smaller subcompact crossovers like the Honda HR-V and larger compact crossovers like the Ford Escape. In splitting the size difference between the two classes, Hyundai hopes to lure buyers looking for that "right" size vehicle.
Being a few inches shorter than the competitors, you'd think that Tucson was down on interior room and that's just not the case. There's ample room for four adults - five in a pinch. The front seats are nicely padded and offer great head and leg room. Rear seats are nicely padded as well and taller adults won't be asking for the front passengers to scoot up as there's good knee and foot room.
Cargo space is good as well, thanks to a low and flat load floor and wide hatch opening. There's a nice covered bin below the floor and the rear seats fold flat as well. Interior storage is good with lots of open and covered bins throughout.
Dynamically, Hyundai has made great strides with the Tucson's 2016 redesign. The chassis feels substantially stiffer and road manners are certainly appropriate for the class. From behind the wheel, Tucson has never felt sporty, but the 2016 version certainly has competent road manners. Brakes have good stopping power and an easy-to-modulate pedal. The steering is a bit dead on center, but firms up nicely on twisty roads and tracks accurately on the highway. The suspension absorbs most bumps easily, but the rear can pound over expansion joints and large pot holes at times. Interior noise levels are appropriate for the class.
The 2016 Tucson can be optioned with a full fleet of safety and convenience features including lane-departure warning, automatic emergency braking, rear-view camera, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, leather, sunroof and navigation system. Two nice features are a hands-free power rear liftgate and Hyundai's Bluelink connectivity suite. Bluelink connects your car to your smartphone, the web and even your smart watch to provide instant directions, the ability to lock and unlock your car remotely and remote starting and climate control adjustment.
The base 2.0-liter engine offers adequate acceleration for around town driving and decent passing punch - provided the vehicle is not loaded down with passengers or cargo. The turbocharged 1.6-liter four provides a noticeable improvement in both acceleration and passing. One downside of the turbo engine has a noticeable bog off the line in stop-and-go driving. It's likely something that could be fixed with a re-program of the transmission map, but annoying nonetheless. Because of its gearless design, smooth transitions between power and cruising are the norm.
Both engines are frugal for the class. The 2.0 rating a 26 mpg EPA combined with the turbo motor an even more impressive 28 mpg combined. The ECO does even better with a 31 mpg EPA combined rating. Real-world driving is likely to yield about 28 mpg overall in routine suburban commuting. The base engine is likely to be a little more efficient around town and the turbo motor makes the best mileage on the highway.
The interior gets a complete makeover with the 2016 redesign as well. It comes off as fresh, functional and modern. Most materials seem a cut above the class norm and padded surfaces abound. Controls fall close to hand and are clearly marked. The available touch-screen navigation and entertainment system is easy to program and operate and Bluetooth operation with the phone is seamless.
With its 2016 redesign, Tucson goes from afterthought to serious contender for compact crossover shoppers. It's unique size and expert interior packaging makes it appealing to a wide range of shoppers. Prices start out on the reasonable side but quickly rise if you opt for the turbo motor or lots of comfort and convenience goodies, so shop wisely.