|GDi 2WD manual – $28,590||2.0 GDi 2WD manual – $31,150||2.0 GDi 2WD auto – $36,650||1.6 T-GDi AWD DCT auto – $45,450|
|GDi 2WD auto – $31,090||2.0 GDi 2WD auto – $33,650||1.6 T-GDi AWD DCT auto – $39,250||2.0 CRDi AWD auto – $47,450|
|CRDi 4WD auto – $35,090||2.0 CRDi AWD auto – $41,250|
There’s a lot to like about the Hyundai Tucson, but there are also a few sticking points that might rule out some variants for some drivers. You’ll find a fair bit of performance variation across the Tucson range, and it’s not all good news as you climb up the price ladder.
This might push the more basic Active forward as the pick of the litter, with generous base features and a competitive price tag to woo city drivers.
But naturally there are still plenty of reasons to set your sights higher. Depending on what you’re after, any kind of Tucson might be your next dream car, or it might be too high a cost for too many downsides.
The design and features might speak for themselves, but you probably want to look more closely at the performance and handling in different situations.
You’ll get quite different results with each option.
|Fuel system||Gasoline direct injection||Turbo gasoline direct injection||Common rail direct injection|
|Maximum power||121 kW at 6,200 RPM||130 kW at 5,500 RPM||136 kW at 4,000 RPM|
|Maximum torque||203 Nm at 4,700 RPM||265 Nm at 1,500-4,500 RPM||400 Nm at 1,750 to 2,750 RPM|
|Cylinder capacity||2L (1,999cc)||1.6L (1,591cc)||2L (1.995cc)|
|Drive system||2WD||Active on-demand 4WD with 50/50 front and rear lock mode||Active on-demand 4WD with 50/50 front and rear lock mode|
|Transmission||6 speed manual or automatic||7 speed DCT (dry clutch) with sequential||6 speed automatic|
On paper, the Tucson doesn’t match the power of some of its immediate competitors, with a fairly lightweight 1,600kg braked towing capacity with all engine types. Similarly priced competitors like the Mazda CX-5 range (1,800kg) and the Volkswagen Tiguan (2,500kg) handily outdo it on this front.
But unless you need that power, you might not miss it and could find it is made up for by some of the handling and efficiency benefits.
All the petrol engines (2.0 GDi and 1.6 T-GDi) have similar fuel consumption, with official city and country combined tests putting the more powerful 1.6L turbo at 7.7L/100km. This is largely thanks to the laggy-yet-fuel-efficient dual clutch transmission you get with the 1.6L T-GDi.
By contrast, the 2.0L diesel officially clocked in at 6.4L/100km on the same tests.
As usual, this is optimistic by real-world standards, with testers finding the petrol engines use about 10.7L/100km, and the diesel to be as low as 7.5L/100km on long highway stretches to about 11L/100km in the city.
In all cases, except perhaps diesel in the city, it remains a fairly efficient drive, coming in near the top of its class.
Overall, the Tucson was found to be an involving drive, despite being relatively soft in some ways. Its tight 10.6m turning gives it some agility, while reviewers found the locally-tuned suspension to be communicative on sealed and unsealed roads, and the cornering to be very agreeable.
Also, if you have sand or snow in mind then the centre locking differential, absent from some of the more city-centric SUVs, is probably going to help you out at some point.
Certain variants include some additional driving modes. You generally won’t notice a huge difference, but you’ll notice something so it might be worth trying them out.
- Sport mode: Available with the Elite and Highlander, you’ll find the car a little more responsive in sport mode.
- Eco mode: Available in Active X, this mode might significantly improve your fuel efficiency, at the cost of a more sluggish feeling, especially in stop-start traffic.
Reviewers also found some distinct gripes which might limit your options. You might find the road noise to be a bit louder than you want, and some reviewers found the Tucson (Highlander’s) brake pedal to be “a little soft”.
If you take it for a test drive, you might want to try (safely) pushing the brakes a little bit further than usual to get a better sense of any limitations, and get up to speed so you can gauge the road noise for yourself.
Some reviewers also mentioned issues with specific engine types. In a nutshell, “the diesel is quicker but the petrol is smoother”.
Downsides of the CRDi diesel
If you go for the more powerful CRDi diesel, you’re looking near the top of the price range and committing yourself to relatively inefficient city driving. You’d need to be doing a huge amount of long distance driving to get your money’s worth from diesel fuel savings.
If you spend a lot of time at speed though, the diesel might have more potential to pay for itself as the petrol engine gets noticeably thirstier as the speedometer climbs higher.
It’s also worth noting that the diesel Tucson uses a particulate filter which will need relatively frequent highway jaunts to prevent itself from clogging. If you can see yourself only driving locally for weeks on end, the diesel might not be for you.
The upshot is that the CRDi diesel can get you a more powerful ride than the petrol variants without saddling you into the 7-speed dual clutch, which can be annoying in certain circumstances.
Downsides of the GDi and T-GDi petrol
On the other end of the price scale you have the considerably less powerful 2.0 GDi which might be a bit softer than what you’re looking for.
The 1.6 T-GDi might strike a happy balance of price and power, but it also locks you into the 7-speed dual clutch. This transmission was a constant gripe among reviewers who found it annoyingly unresponsive at low speeds. But all went on to say that it smooths right up once you get up to speed on the freeway.
Some reviewers also noted the handling differences between wheel size, finding the 17-inch Active to be a comfier ride, especially at city speeds, with the extra cushioning offered by tire size relative to wheel size.
|17-inch alloy wheels||done||clear||clear||clear|
|18-inch alloy wheels||clear||done||done||clear|
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Your engine choices change with each variant, as do the additional features. All models are fairly well kitted out, further making the basic variants an attractive blend of cost and quality.
With all versions, you’ll find standard features including:
- Roof rails
- Front and rear fog lights
- LED daytime running lamp and LED high mount stop lamp
- Automatic dusk-sensing headlights
- Rear windshield heating
- Rear floor heating and cooling vents
- 12V power outlet in rear cargo area
- Touchscreen with Apple CarPlay™ & Android Auto™ compatibility
Storage and interiors
The Tucson is very much about the storage space, whether you’re carrying kids or other cargo. The roof racks as standard speak to this, while your cargo storage space ranges from a decent 488L to a luxurious 1,478L with the rear seats folded down.
The rear seats have been given some special attention, with a bit of extra leg room for passengers as well as the uncommon addition of floor air vents. But parents might want to note that the rear seats tend to ride fairly low and small children might not think much of the view from the back seats.
A lot of reviewers complimented the stylings as well, both inside and out, with the synthetics in particular being noted for their comfort and inability to get too hot.
And on the outside, it was nothing but compliments for the Tucson’s aesthetics. Naturally you’ll have to judge that for yourself though.
Comfort and quality of life
As you jump from Active X to Elite, the main differences are general comfort and quality of life upgrades.
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|Steering wheel mounted phone controls||clear||clear||done||done|
|Rear privacy glass||clear||clear||done||done|
|SUNA live traffic updates||clear||clear||done||done|
|7” touch screen||done||done||clear||clear|
|8” touch screen||clear||clear||done||done|
|Hands-free power tailgate||clear||clear||done||done|
|Electronic park brake||clear||clear||done||done|
|Power adjustable driver’s seat with 2-way lumbar support||clear||clear||done||done|
The Active GDi 2WD manual starts at a competitive $28,590 and runs up to the rather less competitive $47,450 for the Highlander. Across the full range it mostly sits at about the norm for medium SUVs, so you’ll need to consider it on its own merits.
It’s probably a fairly flexible car as you make your way up the range, starting as a cost-effective, capacious and comfortable city driver at the entry level, and running up to a rugged and very well-equipped Highlander.
However, depending on what you’re aiming for, you might be able to find a bit more performance in the same price range, at the cost of other features. Prioritise your needs, beware of any sticking points around the different engines and make sure you’ve found a ride that suits you.
Rates last updated May 27th, 2018