2019 Hyundai Tucson
In 2015, Hyundai introduced their newest edition of their compact SUV, the Tucson. It was seen as Hyundai getting serious about their SUV lineup to drive sales against their rivals. Things have started to catch up and the Tucson is leading a four-SUV lineup that ranges from the award-winning subcompact Kona to the soon-to-be-replaced Santa Fe XL.
For 2019, Hyundai revamped the Tucson lineup by addressing one of the vehicle’s complaints. The 1.6-liter turbocharged engine, combined with the seven-speed dual clutch transmission, was seen as ill-suited for the Tucson. Hyundai replaced that engine for its top trim levels with a larger naturally aspirated 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with a conventional six-speed automatic.
Luckily, our tester came with this new – but, tried-and-true – driveline. We were curious whether this will do the trick for this vehicle.
The mid-cycle refresh focused on the details, such as a sharper front end and a few details all around. At its core, it is still a handsome compact SUV that attracts everyone to its charms. The huge grille is a welcomed sight, flanked by slim headlamps that emit a good light ahead.
Our Ultimate tester adds handsome 18-inch alloy wheels and chrome trimmings to give it a classy look without going over the top. However, any Tucson model will look good without the Limited trimmings. This is a huge plus in Hyundai's corner for those looking to spend less on looking good.
The same can be said about the interior. It follows the latest brand design attributes by being more contemporary, despite some conservative touches. It all actually worked very well, with its straightforward instrumentation binnacle, including an informative TFT screen in-between the two large dials. Controls are familiar, logical and good to the touch – from the steering wheel to the lower instrument panel switches. The center stack pod featured a large 8-inch touch screen for the infotainment functions and climate control readouts. Sightlines were excellent, which made driving the Tucson a very easy task for every driver.
The Ultimate model offered comfortable and supportive leather seating. For long drives, this was truly a nice place to be, especially with various power adjustments to fine tune that seating position. The driver also has a short throw-style gear lever for the six-speed automatic transmission. A sporty touch that was welcomed, indeed. Rear seat room was actually quite good for adults. Let's not forget about that 31 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats – well shaped for many things worth carrying.
As we mentioned before, the top engine for the Tucson marks a great improvement over what was underneath its hood before. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder is absolutely perfect for this SUV. The power is up at 181 horsepower, which helps for a happier cruise and commute. There is some struggle on passing maneuvers, but the engine and the six-speed automatic transmission will help the Tucson get back up to speed in no time. Our tester had a solid all-wheel-drive system. We observed an average of 24.5 MPG in our care.
The ride quality was good and solid. The suspension absorbed imperfections well, keeping everyone happy inside. In the turns, a softer feel was revealed as it showed some minute lean and roll. Steering did feel numb with some lack of feel and feedback from the road. The turning radius could be a bit better for its size, however. Braking was solid with good stops in normal and panic situations. Keeping things in order is the Lane Keep Assist that works the steering to ensure that the Tucson stays between the lines. Otherwise, it is a stable vehicle that should be fine for those who will own one.
A Tucson SE with front-wheel drive starts with a base price of $23,350. Our Ultimate AWD tester came with a sticker price of $34,130. Tucson customers have a choice of seven different trim levels, five of which offer the larger 2.4-liter engine as standard.
Shopping against the Tucson would yield a wide variety of choices in terms of size and price. The Tucson’s competitive set includes the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Jeep Compass and Cherokee, Volkswagen Tiguan, Kia Sportage, Nissan Rogue and Rogue Sport, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, Subaru Forester and Crosstrek, and Mazda CX-5.
But, for what the Hyundai Tucson does - it does very well. The new 2.4-liter engine is more than just icing on a well-made, easy-to-drive, and solid “cake.” This is truly become one of the most improved vehicles in its class this year!
Story Credits: CarSoup Editors