Long-term tests

Hyundai Tucson Ultimate Hybrid: long-term test review

Final report: The Hyundai Tucson has handled everything the Fowler family could throw at it

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

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The Tucson is a great family car that ticks all the boxes: it’s easy to drive, economical, well made and, in my view, good-looking. My friends clearly share my enthusiasm; it’s on many of their wish lists now, too.

  • Mileage: 8,021
  • Economy: 46.5mpg

My husband isn’t happy. He’s a bit miffed that I seem to have the keys to his Hyundai Tucson more than he does, and he’s asked me to write his final report for him. So here I am, Victoria Fowler, wife of editor-in-chief Steve Fowler, and I’d like to give you a female perspective on the Hyundai Tucson, a car that I know Steve also loves.

I’ve been very lucky over the years to sit in the passenger seat of some incredible cars – everything from McLarens to Range Rovers. But I can honestly say that there is not one of them where I’ve ever really enjoyed slipping into the driver’s seat.

But there’s just something about this Hyundai that I’ve fallen for, so what is it? Let’s start with first impressions: I love the design of the car. I think the lights at the front look really good, quite posh and very  different from anything else out there. And now I’m seeing more Tucsons on the road they’re easy to spot and they definitely look better in darker colours. I like the rear lights, too – again, very classy.

Then there’s the inside. Steve told me that the car was designed by a guy who used to work for Bentley, and I can see that in some of the really nice details. I like the material panels that go around the inside, which make the car feel warmer. I also like the soft-feeling materials everywhere else, while the screens look modern and are easy to use. I always connect my phone when I get in the car and Apple CarPlay comes up automatically on the big, central screen.

The buttons for the gears are easy to use, the steering wheel is a nice size and not too heavy to turn, and I can see out of the car well to the front and the back, while the door mirrors are usefully large.

I’ve got a couple of friends who have Range Rover Evoques – the old and the new one – and this car knocks spots off those for style and quality. 

The same applies to the gadgets. I know this car is a range-topping version, but to have heated seats (Steve prefers them on the cooling setting) and a heated steering wheel is brilliant. I only have to touch a button on the doors to lock or unlock the car and the Tucson welcomes me by playing a little jingle – cute! When Steve has been driving the car, I only have to press a button on the door and the seat automatically adjusts to my position.

I’ve used the car on short and long journeys. We took it on holiday to Cornwall, then up to Lincolnshire and I’ve also had my niece’s children in the back in child seats and there’s plenty of space for them or my own grown-up kids. The boot has plenty of space and our goldendoodle, Sky, thinks it’s her second home when we take her for walks.

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I’m mindful of both running costs and the environment, so I might check out the plug-in hybrid before persuading Steve that I should live with a Tucson for even longer. However, I’m really impressed by the way this hybrid model drives – it’s very smooth – plus how often it seems to run on electric power. It’s not too expensive to fill up and I haven’t been doing that as much as I would have done with some other cars I’ve owned, including a current Peugeot 3008.

So would I recommend the Tucson to you? Absolutely. It’s a nice size, looks great, drives well, feels really upmarket and is economical, too. I guess the highest praise I can give the car is that I would spend my own money on one. In fact, I just might.

Hyundai Tucson Ultimate Hybrid: second report

Our Hyundai Tucson SUV is given a tough challenge as it heads off on holiday

  • Mileage: 5,642
  • Economy: 46.2mpg

For this year’s summer holidays the Fowler family and the Hyundai Tucson criss-crossed the country rather than stay in one place. Part of that was down to not being able to book somewhere suitable for all of us to stay for a couple of weeks (must book earlier in future), but it also gave us a chance to take a trip down memory lane to Mumby in Lincolnshire.

It’s been a while since I’d visited the On Your Marques model car museum, set up by my late Aunt Jane and her husband Chris, but it was great to get back up there to see Chris, his dog Spangle and one of the UK’s best model car displays. It was great to take one of the UK’s best SUVs up there, too – and as usual the Tucson excelled.

Before we headed to Lincolnshire, we went to Cornwall for a week – and it took us almost that long to get home again. The journey down was great – my wife Victoria did the motorway driving (she’s an even bigger fan of the Tucson than I am) and I took over once we were off the motorways and onto Cornwall’s narrow lanes.

Although the Tucson is big enough for five adults to travel in reasonable comfort, it’s not too big for the tight country lanes. Good visibility and the raised driving position help, but the way the Tucson drives was handy, too; it balances decent body control with good ride comfort.

Hyundai’s hybrid system impressed down in Cornwall, getting more action than when on the motorway. I could use long downhill stretches to build up battery power through the brakes and then try to eke out as much electric power as I could without the engine cutting in. You barely notice when it does, although it’s not the most cultured sound if you accelerate hard.

While the journey down to Cornwall took just four hours, the journey back was a tedious eight hours. But it’s testament to the Tucson’s comfort that the only complaints were about my choice of music.

I took full advantage of Hyundai’s Highway Drive Assist – Level Two autonomous tech, in other words. It keeps the car in lane and uses the cruise control to keep a set distance from the car in front – and on that journey home it really made life just a little bit easier and more bearable.

Our second week trip up to Lincolnshire meant an additional passenger: Sky, our now fully-grown Goldendoodle. That meant the boot – perfectly adequate for five people’s luggage the week before – had another use. So a roof box was required, along with roof rails. Hyundai dealers will sell you the former for £369 and the latter for £238, and it’s all a doddle to fit, with a stepping stool to help out.

It meant that all of our luggage went into the box and Sky had the boot to herself. And other than a bit more wind noise on the motorway and watching out for height restrictions at beach car parks, we wouldn’t have noticed there was a roof box up top.

Sky’s just about realised the boot is now within jumping distance; the flat floor is relatively low, while the beep as the powered tailgate lowers is her cue to sit down and keep her tail out of the way.

Our holiday travels – not to mention its popularity for pretty much any trip at home – have seen our Tucson’s mileage head towards 6,000 miles in just four months. In fact, things seem to be getting even better – including the fuel consumption which, at 46.2mpg, I’m pretty pleased with.

Hyundai Tucson Ultimate Hybrid: first report

The award-winning Hyundai Tucson SUV makes a great first impression

  • Mileage: 3,143
  • Economy: 45.8mpg

The latest Hyundai Tucson and I have a bit of history. Way back in March 2019 I was invited to Seoul in South Korea, where Hyundai’s chief designer SangYup Lee showed me a very early mock-up of the car that would go on to become the new Tucson.

Back then I was wowed by the cool parametric lights at the front, the crisp slashes in the bodywork along the sides, and the comforting look of the interior. More than two years later, I’ve got a production version of the same car on my driveway and I’m more impressed than ever.

Here at Auto Express we like the new Tucson so much it recently won our award for best mid-size SUV, beating the new Nissan Qashqai and Volkswagen Tiguan. And having covered 3,000 miles in its first 12 weeks, it’s also winning over my family.

I collected our car from Endeavour Hyundai in North London, where Stavros Papademetriou showed me around it and introduced me to the main features. After months of closure due to Covid, it was great to be back in a dealership, to be looked after so well and to see a car dealer so busy.

Almost from day one, my wife fell in love with the Tucson, and she tends to use it whenever she gets the chance. She’ll be writing the next report, but for now you’ll have to make do with my musings – which are pretty much all positive.

I’m pleased to report that the car is the head-turner I suspected it would be. Whether it’s those lights – with the rear arrangement as striking as the front – or just the overall proportions, it does tend to get looked at quite a lot. I’m particularly fond of the Dark Knight paintwork, too.

Having already spent many miles behind the wheel, I’ve found there are a couple of interior features that I think are worth mentioning. Firstly, the strip of material that runs around the dashboard and onto the doors is a nice touch, making the cabin feel classy, warm and welcoming.

Then there’s the 10.25-inch widescreen infotainment display, which I mainly use with Apple CarPlay displayed at full width. It’s crisp, responsive and a great size so that I can see everything easily.

Unlike in some rival cars, though, you need an old-fashioned cable to connect your smartphone and get CarPlay working. That’s a bit odd when there’s wireless smartphone charging; why not wireless CarPlay, too?

The benefit of the wire is a slightly better-quality audio connection to the Krell hi-fi (no, I’d never heard of that brand before, either), but the jury is still out on that.

I’m enjoying the smooth hybrid drive system and even the mandatory noise the car makes when under electric power; it’s quite loud in an underground car park, as it should be, I guess. And 45.8mpg so far, with a lot of my miles on the motorway, is pretty good. The family and our goldendoodle dog have no complaints about space, either.

So it’s a big thumbs-up from me for the award-winning Tucson so far. But as I say, for the next report I’ll pass the keyboard over to Mrs Fowler for her view. It’s only fair – I can never get the keys off her.

Model: Hyundai Tucson Ultimate Hybrid
On fleet since: April 2021
Price new: £37,400
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol, plus 1.49 kWh battery, 227bhp
CO2/tax: 131g/km/29%
Options: Tech pack (£1,300)
Insurance*: Group: 20E/Quote: £376
Mileage: 8,021
Economy: 46.5mpg
Any problems? None so far

*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.


Steve Fowler has been editor-in-chief of Auto Express since 2011 and is responsible for all editorial content across the website and magazine. He has previously edited What Car?, Autocar and What Hi-Fi? and has been writing about cars for the best part of 30 years. 

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