Long-term tests

Hyundai Tucson Ultimate Hybrid: long-term test review

First report: the award-winning Hyundai Tucson SUV makes a great first impression

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5


The very fact that we named the Tucson as the best car in its class at our 2021 New Car Awards means that it’s living up to the promise it showed when I first saw it a couple of years ago. It’s good to drive, efficient, packed with the latest tech and competes with its premium rivals on looks and kit.

  • 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:£39,365
Engine:1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol, plus 1.49 kWh battery, 227bhp
Options:Tech pack (£1,300)
Insurance*:Group: 20E/Quote: £376
Any problems?None so far

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

Most Popular

'The death of cheap cars will be a travesty for personal mobility'
Opinion cheap cars

'The death of cheap cars will be a travesty for personal mobility'

Our appetite for small, cheap cars is as strong as ever - although Mike Rutherford warns they may no longer be profitable
12 Sep 2021
What is Skoda vRS? History and best cars driven
Skoda vRS range

What is Skoda vRS? History and best cars driven

To mark 20 years of Skoda’s vRS badge, we rounded up some of the performance cars from the past two decades that have worn the subtle green badge
17 Sep 2021
Genesis G80 vs Mercedes E-Class vs Lexus ES
Genesis G80 vs Mercedes E-Class vs Lexus ES
Genesis G80

Genesis G80 vs Mercedes E-Class vs Lexus ES

The Genesis G80 looks to make an impact in the executive saloon class as we pitch it against the Mercedes E-Class and Lexus ES
18 Sep 2021