HYUNDAI’S 2016 TUCSON WILL COMPETE IN HOT SMALL SUV MARKET
By Tom Crosby
Compact crossovers, also known as small SUV’s, have been growing in sales and in 2014 are cited as passing mid-size sedans for the first time in total sales. Thus the third-generation 2016 Hyundai Tucson arrives just in time to surf the surging sales wave.
In addition to a complete eye-pleasing redesign, Hyundai boasts the Tucson is the first compact SUV to include stain-resistant ventilated front seats as standard. Before the 2016 makeover, Tucson – which fills a model niche just below its bigger sibling, the Santa Fe SUV – was struggling against competitors such as Honda’s CRV and Honda’s smaller HR-V, Toyota’s RAV4 and the Mazda CX-3.
Now the five-passenger Tucson is bigger with 1.2 inches longer wheelbase, 1.1 inches wider and 3 inches longer generating more cabin and cargo space. Hyundai recently became the official vehicle for the NFL and football fans will see a football season-long advertising barrage, including a heavy dose of Tucson ads.
Our test-drive was the all-wheel-drive Limited, top dog in the Hyundai pack above SE, Eco and Sport with optional floor mats and cargo cover and a final price that says you want the Limited’s array of standard features.
Outside, a hexagonal three-slat chrome front grill sits above the open air dam between sweptback headlights. Otherwise chrome is minimal, with the beltline rising above concaved side doors. The raked rear window sits beneath a smooth integrated roof spoiler. Cladding beneath the bumper, dual chrome exhaust tips and arched wheel wells complete a clean, fresh profile.
Behind the wheel, the Active Corner Control switches torque between the wheels when negotiating sharp turns or traveling over slippery surfaces providing confident and responsive handling. Hillstart assist and brake control reduce worries on steep inclines.
The ride on 19-inch wheels was composed on an upgraded suspension system and a unique shock-absorber mounting structure. The turbo engine is peppy with slight lag for turbo kick-in. Lane departure warning, rear parking sensors and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection– much needed features for a smaller vehicle –come with other features in a $2,750 optional Ultimate Package. Still, Tuscon receives high safety ratings.
Inside, all leather seats are spaciously comfortable, with power adjusts for the front seat passenger, a rarity in this class. The fit and finish is excellent, the look simple, yet elegant with a unique chrome U-shaped bar inside the base of the steering wheel. The 8-inch touchscreen is readable in sunshine, intuitive to use. Soft materials, accent stitching, ergonomically available storage spaces – all contribute to a easy to like cabin.
Hyundai’s Blue Link mobile app will satisfy technophiles with smartphone-based features. A temporary spare tire is bracketed by a pair of storage spaces. A neat feature is the rear liftgate rises on its own via the keyfob when standing behind the vehicle.
LIKES: Handling, versatility, interior, mpg, ride, dashboard connectivity
DISLIKES: Turbo power lag, price, safety options needed
BOTTOM LINE: Now a real competitor in compact SUV (or crossover) market
- Base price w/destination fee $32,195 ($32,510 as tested)
- Curb weight 3,710 lbs.
- Wheelbase 105.1 inches
- Length 176.2 inches
- Width 74.8 inches
- Engine specs 1.6-liter, inline 4-cylinder, DOHC, turbo
- Horsepower 175-hp at 5,500 rpm
- Torque 195-lbs.-ft. at 1,500-4,500 rpm
- Transmission 7-speed automatic w/Shiftronic/Eco
- EPA Rating 24 mpg city and 28 mpg highway
- Range 16.4-gallon tank, regular gas
- Performance 0-60 in just over 7 seconds