tucson
tucson

Hyundai Tucson: Here’s looking at you

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What is it?

We love the adventurous new styling route that Hyundai is taking.

Like the Ioniq 5 and Staria reviewed recently, the latest Tucson is a real head-turner.

The large hatched grille gives it a bolder look and is fringed by five LED daytime lights in crescent formation.

Headlights are full LED and automatically adjust to the sides to provide improved visibility when cornering.

A fashionable coupe-like roofline has been adopted, topped with contrasting black roof rails.

The wheel arches, rather than following the round shape of the wheels, come in a distinctive angular shape.

The rear features wide-set lighting, with the Hyundai badge moved to and embedded in the rear window.

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What’s it cost?

Hyundai’s mid-sized SUV Tucson has been around since 2004.

The current (fourth generation) was released here in February, 2021.

There are three variants: Tucson, Tucson Elite and Tucson Highlander with three powertrains: 2.0-litre petrol, 1.6-litre turbo-petrol and 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engines.

Hybrid and plug-in hybrid are available overseas but are unlikely to come here in the near future due to RHD production constraints.

Our test vehicle was the Highlander 1.6-litre turbo-petrol AWD priced at $50,000 plus on-road costs.

All models have touchscreen multimedia displays embedded into the middle of the dashboard, 8.0-inch in the entry level Tucson and larger 10.25-inch in the Elite and Highlander — to cater for satellite navigation and live traffic updates.

It comes with the option of wide-screen or split-screen view of map or navigation and audio.

Likewise, Tucson has a smaller (4.2-inch) digital instrument cluster than the 10.25-inch display in the two higher variants.

All have a digital speedometer.

There are shortcut buttons below the screen for the most commonly-used features.

All variants can be enhanced by N Line Option Packs which add sports-inspired styling (but not performance), including N Line rear spoiler, silver skid plate, bumper, body-coloured cladding and 19-inch alloys.

Prices vary according to standard features: so $3500 for the base Tucson, $2000 (Elite) and $1000 (Highlander).

There are seven exterior colour choices, six of them costing an extra $600.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available across the range, wireless in the Tucson and connected in higher spec models.

DAB+ digital radio is also standard in Elite and Highlander but, given that we live outside the Sydney metropolitan area, it is pointless trying to use it.

Indeed, because the radio defaults to DAB+ stations rather than FM — it’s frustrating to use.

Flagship Highlander features an eight-speaker Bose premium audio system.

Tucson and Elite have a six-speaker unit.

All Tucson models come with the same comprehensive list of safety features starting with front, side (thorax) and curtain airbags.

A front-centre airbag stops serious injuries by preventing the driver and the front passenger from hitting each other.

Other passive safety features include: roll-over sensor, stability and traction control including trailer stability control, enhanced ABS brakes, emergency stop signal, tyre pressure monitoring, hill-start assist and multi-collision braking.

Smartsense adds advanced features such as smart cruise control, forward collision avoidance assist, including pedestrians and cyclists, blind-along with spot collision avoidance assist, blind spot view monitor and driver inattention warning.

There’s also leading vehicle departure alert, remote parking assist and surround view monitor, parking collision avoidance assist, lane follow assist, intelligent speed limit assist, intelligent speed limit assist, safe exit warning and rear cross-traffic collision avoidance.

All variants have a rear-view camera and rear parking sensors, with front sensors added for the Elite and Highlander.

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What’s it go like?

Three powertrains are offered.

All variants get the option of a 2.0-litre petrol engine generating 115kW of power and 192Nm of torque, paired with a six-speed automatic — and front-wheel drive is available with all variants.

Elite and Highlander add the choice of a 1.6 turbo-petrol (132kW and 265Nm) with seven-speed DCT and all-wheel drive, or a 137kW/416Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel with conventional eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive.

Both have push button gear selection and shift paddles.

The official fuel consumption is 8.1L/100km for the 2.0-litre petrol, 7.2L/100km for the 1.6-litre turbo-petrol and 6.3 L/100km for the turbo diesel.

We averaged 8.1L/100km from the turbo petrol engine during our test.

Gen four Tucson sits on a longer wheelbase than its predecessor with a longer bonnet and shorter overhangs on the outside and extra cabin space.

Entry into Tucson needed a minimum degree of bending and once ensconced behind the wheel, the seats are comfortable and supportive.

Visibility is excellent in all directions and the driving position is relatively high.

Both the front seats in the Highlander are powered with the driver also getting a memory function.

The steering wheel has height and reach adjustment.

Unlike most previous Hyundai models, Tucson unfortunately didn’t get Australian local ride-and-handling input.

However, the engineers at the company’s Namyang R&D centre have learnt enough from previous Australian tests to be able to mirror our challenging conditions.

They’ve done a good job and Tucson is well-balanced with a firm but comfortable ride.

Steering is relatively heavy but direct.

The cabin is quiet and refined, well-suited for long distance cruising.

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What we like?

  • Cabin is quiet and refined
  • Comprehensive list of safety features
  • Visibility is excellent in all directions
  • One of the best-looking vehicles in its class

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What we don’t like?

  • Radio defaults to DAB+ rather than FM
  • Steering is relatively heavy but direct
  • No Australian local ride-and-handling input

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The bottom line?

Tucson has been one of the fixtures in the Hyundai range since its launch in 2004.

For the past 17 years, the original 2WD City version has been providing yeoman’s service to my younger son and his family.

It started as the single car for his young family, took second stage as they outgrew it and became a work commuter — then most recently as a
learner vehicle for our two grandsons.

Over the years we’ve watched Tucson evolve from its conservatively styled roots into what is now one of the best-looking vehicles in its class.

These fresh new looks together with its well-earned reputation for reliability and convenience certainly make Tucson worth including in your test drive roster.

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Hyundai Tucson AWD Highlander 1.6T, priced from $50,000
  • Looks - 9/10
    9/10
  • Performance - 7/10
    7/10
  • Safety - 9/10
    9/10
  • Thirst - 7/10
    7/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
    8/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
    8/10
  • Tech - 8/10
    8/10
  • Value - 7/10
    7/10
Overall
7.9/10
7.9/10

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