Hyundai Tucson review
Mini-SUV looks are combined with a spacious, well kitted out interior in a practical family crossover
The Tucson may have an old name, but everything about it is new and considerably better. It faces some very stiff opposition in the shape of the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar, but the Hyundai Tucson competes well on almost every level.
It looks more visually striking thanks to a design that has filtered down from the larger Santa Fe, but inside it can look a little bland and uninviting up against the Renault.
The Tucson is incredibly spacious and dwarfs some of its competitors when it comes to practicality and boot space, while it comes with a generous amount of standard kit, too. We’d stay well clear of the petrol engines, but go for one of the diesel options and you’ll have yourself some well-priced, well-kitted out spacious family transport.
In the UK the Tucson name was last seen on a Hyundai in 2009. Boldly styled, that car focused more on value for money than coming across as a quality product, but Hyundai stepped things up when replacing it with the ix35. The brand packed lots of kit into a decently made car that rivaled the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti. Now the Tucson name is back on a brand new small SUV that supersedes the ix35 with a new chassis, new engines and a brand new tech.
Since the Tucson was last around the small SUV sector has boomed. So the new Tucson can count a large number of very capable cars as rivals. The main opposition includes the Nissan Qashqai, Skoda Yeti, Mazda CX-5 and the new Renault Kadjar.
The Hyundai Tucson takes up the ix35’s baton and has an attractive package of mini Hyundai Sante Fe looks, great build quality, efficient engines and a strong suit of safety kit all backed up by Hyundai’s excellent five-year unlimited mileage warranty.
Under the bonnet you’ll find a 133bhp 1.6 petrol, and 113bhp 1.7 and 134bhp 2.0 diesels all with front-wheel drive. For those who want all-wheel-drive grip, the 174bhp 1.6 petrol turbo and 182bhp 2.0-litre diesel come with a 4x4 system (the front wheels receive 100 per cent of torque during normal road driving with up to 50 per cent sent to the rear wheels, automatically, depending on conditions). Six-speed manual and dual-clutch automatic gearboxes are on offer (manual only on the entry-level 1.6).
There are five trims available too – S, SE, SE Nav, Premium and Premium SE with even the entry-level S coming with 16-inch alloys, air conditioning, Bluetooth and six airbags. Top drawer Premium SE adds big-car luxury kit like heated and cooling electric front seats, heated steering and an electric tailgate, but mid-grade SE Nav easily offers the best kit for a reasonable price – climate control, parking sensors, 17-inch alloys and Lane Keeping Assist come as standard.
Engines, performance and drive
The Tucson has been built from scratch and features a brand new chassis. In terms of ride comfort, the Tucson is another step up from its predecessor and offers supple suspension that can easily deal with potholes and nasty road imperfections.
It’s quiet too – even in the most powerful 2.0-litre diesel 4WD model, the engine’s noise never really enters the cabin and it’s a hushed place to be when cruising on the motorway. Despite the soft suspension, body roll is good, too – there’s no unpleasant leaning through fast corners thanks to the excellent body control.
The automatic gearboxes are all-new dual clutch transmissions, and while they’re great for driving and give a more relaxed feel, we’d suggest sticking with the manual gearbox, which is cheaper and very smooth to operate.
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For most people, the Tucson will be more than adequate to drive, but for those who like their SUVs to be especially sporty behind the wheel the Tucson falls short – the Mazda CX-5, for example, is far more pleasurable and exciting to drive.
In fast bends, the Tucson’s steering doesn’t give you much feedback on what the front wheels are doing. It is accurate, though, and on SE models or higher the Flex Steer system weights up the steering at speed. But it doesn’t help to deliver any more feel.
For this type of car, the diesel engines are the ones to go for. The 1.7-litre diesel is the same engine that was available in the old Hyundai ix35 but has been tweaked to make it more fuel efficient. It’s not the most powerful engine in the range with only 117bhp but it’s up to the job and delivers adequate performance for a family of five.
The more punchy 182bhp 2.0-litre diesel is all-new and very smooth for a diesel engine. It can also be had with the new automatic gearbox, which makes it very relaxing to drive on longer journeys. The engine has far superior towing and off-road ability as four-wheel drive is available, too. The only issue is that the 2.0-litre only comes in conjunction with top-spec models so can be costly option.
If petrol engines are the choice for you, Hyundai has two 1.6-litre options, although we wouldn’t advise buying either. They’re both quieter to drive than the diesels, but they don’t produce enough torque so you really have to keep your foot down to make any sort of progress. The result is poor fuel economy and less relaxed drive.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
The Tucson is available with a number of engines and gearboxes and is designed to offer competitive running costs. The most popular combination will likely be the 1.7-litre diesel mated with a six-speed manual gearbox that returns 61.7mpg and emits 119g/km.
For some buyers, the extra grunt from the 2.0-litre diesel will be more desirable and it’ll still return 59mpg and 127g/km of CO2 in 2WD form. Compared to the diesels, the 1.6-litre turbo petrol looks uncompetitive with CO2 emissions figures of over 170g/km.
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Hyundais are no longer the cheap cars they used to be so the new Tucson’s on the road price can look steep compared to those of the old ix35 model. However, Hyundais now have much stronger residuals and there’s no reason why the new Tucson shouldn’t follow this recent trend.
Prices start from £18,695 and rise to £32,345 for the top of the range Tucson models. Over the course of three years and 60,000 miles, the Tucson will retain around 42 per cent of its original value. That’s a very competitive figure in its class, meaning the Tucson will hold more of its value when you come to sell than rivals like the Nissan Qashqai.
Comparable in price to its rivals, the Tucson also boasts relatively low insurance groups that start from group 15 and rise to group 25. This should help keep premiums lower than you’d get in most mainstream rivals.
Interior, design and technology
Hyundai has styled the Tucson to look like a mini Sante Fe – and that is no bad thing as the larger SUV is a very handsome car. This is particularly evident at the front where the Tuscon has gaping chrome grille that links up to headlights that are smeared backwards onto the front wings.
Squared off wheelarches and a ‘z-shape’ shoulder crease down the car’s flanks give the impression the Tucson is moving while it’s stationary. The rounded rear end is smart, while the rear light clusters have a similar look to some of Hyundai’s other models such as the i20 supermini. The overall look is a far cry from the bulbous ix35 making this easily one of the best looking small SUVs on the market.
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Inside, the ix35’s haphazard dashboard layout has been replaced with something that’s far neater and more ordered. Interior quality has taken a big step forward too with the overall fit and finish easily rivaling anything with a Volkswagen badge.
Easy to read dials, the extensive use of squidgy soft-touch plastics and a first-rate infotainment system are particular highlights, but despite these gains in quality, the interior has an air of blandness – the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar have dashboards that are more interesting to look at.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
The cabin may not be very visually attractive but the layout and design are both very functional. The dash is simple but you can see where everything is so you don’t have to go poking around trying to work out how to adjust the air con or find your favourite radio station.
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The touchscreen infotainment system is very bright and responsive, with easy to navigate menus. All Tucsons come with DAB radio, Bluetooth and air conditioning inside, while SE models benefit from rear parking sensors, heated front seats and climate control. The touchscreen and navigation system come as standard on SE Nav models and above.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
Four six-footers won’t have any trouble getting comfortable in the Tucson thanks to a roomy cabin that’s near the top of the class space-wise. Room in the boot is competitive as well; with the back seats in place, there’s 513 litres on offer.
This swells to 1,503 litres with the backs seats folded, which is comfortably larger than the Kadjar’s 472 and 1,478 litres. However, it’s just a shame that the rear seat backs don’t lie flat when folded, robbing the Tucson of a few extra litres of space.
Even with the Tucson’s sloping roof, there’s plenty of headroom too, and all the doors open wide allowing easy access. But that sloping roof does have impact on rear visibility though – parking sensors are a must.
The Tucson is both longer and wider than its closest rival the Nissan Qashqai, a car which isn’t exactly short on space inside.
The larger body naturally makes for more space inside than some of the Tucson's most competitive rivals, so you certainly won't feel claustrophobic when you're behind the wheel.
Leg room, head room and passenger space
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Whether you're transporting three children or three adults, there’ll be no complaints about a lack of space in the Tucson. Even behind a long-legged driver, there’s still enough space for another adult, while the shallow transmission tunnel means there’s also a good amount of leg room for those in the rear, too.
The 513-litre boot on the Tucson is 83 litres larger than the Qashqai’s capacity, while with the rear seats folded flat space increases to 1,503 litres.
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If you go for the all-wheel drive Tucson, capacity is affected slightly to accommodate the additional driveshaft beneath the rear seats. Boot space decreases slightly to 488 litres with all five seats in place and 1,478 litres with the rear seats folded.
Reliability and Safety
The Hyundai is too new to have been ranked in any previous Auto Express Driver Power survey, but a fair few of the Korean company’s models have been and have performed well.
In the 2015 survey the i10 city car finished an impressive third while Hyundai finished in 21st out of 32 – not a brilliant result but above a large number of its rival firms, namely Ford, Nissan and Volkswagen.
The Tucson scored a perfect five-star rating from the Euro NCAP crash tests thanks to a full suit of safety kit like a Blind Spot Detection system, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Autonomous Emergency Braking. It scored 86 and 85 per cent for adult and child protection respectively.
What also helped it score well are a full complement of air bags, a traction control system, electric stability management and ISOFIX child seat mounts in the rear. Every Tucson, whether you go for the entry-level version or the top-spec model, gets these safety features.
The Tucson also comes with Hyundai’s excellent five-year unlimited mileage warranty that should give some peace of mind.
It’s a huge selling point, which very few other rival manufacturers can offer. However, Hyundai’s sister brand Kia does offer the Sportage with a seven-year/100,000 warranty, which is slightly better.
Hyundai offers buyers fixed-price servicing plans across its entire model range, meaning you a pay a lump sum up front which covers all your servicing costs over a certain period.
Prices for the Tucson should be similar to those on the old ix35, with three years' servicing costing from £399 for the petrol models and £499 for a diesel models.