The fourth generation of Hyundai’s top-selling vehicle worldwide is a much-improved design with dynamic styling, more space and comfort inside, plus added features and two hybrid powertrains previously unavailable. The all-new Tucson continues a recent forward march by Hyundai that demonstrates the determined, and mature, efforts to upend perceptions of the brand.
The increase in size over the previous edition, 6 inches longer overall plus 3.5 inches added between the wheels, greatly improves rear passenger space (top of the compact class now) as well as rear cargo space (also tops) while enhancing the ride and drive dynamics to create a poised daily driver. The same exterior size as Toyota’s best-selling RAV4 and Honda’s CR-V, the new Tucson is visually more exciting while packing a potent punch on content and value.
Trim levels remain essentially the same, SE, SEL, Limited, except the addition of hybrid models to each. A sportier N-line trim will be added later, while a plug-in hybrid version — with 261 hp — arrives late this fall. Pricing starts at $26,000 for base front-drive SE Tucsons. The base Blue Hybrid model starts at $30,275 but with more gear included, like standard AWD. Mid-level SEL hybrid starts at $32,875 — the veritable sweet spot in the lineup, while our top-of-the-line Limited hybrid lists for $38,704.
Given the rapid increase in the average transaction prices for all new vehicles, now over $41,000 — up over $6,000 in less than a year — the Tucson screams value.
A 2.5-liter in-line four-cylinder engine provides base power (187 hp), but the real news is the optional 1.6-liter turbocharged four used with the hybrid electric motor and battery pack to create 227 peak horsepower. Front-drive Tucsons earn an EPA estimate of 26/33 mpg, while the hybrid model (with standard AWD) jumps to 37/36 mpg, against a realized 37 mpg doing regular commuter duty locally. Highway fuel efficiency, at today’s prevailing pace, was decidedly lower but still greater than most other SUVs on the road.
All models use a six-speed automatic. The hybrid adds paddle shifters, unnecessary, while the shifter is a push-button affair on the console, which requires an adjustment period. Key for buyers to remember; hybrid models do not require any electrical charging to provide their elevated fuel economy. The gas engine and regenerative braking action charges the battery pack, so there is no “range anxiety” with a hybrid powertrain like pure EV vehicles experience.
The Tucson’s front LED lamps are integrated into the grille and make a distinct visual statement when active. The same is true at the rear, with the LED lighting spanning the rear panel. Hyundai also moved the rear wiper up and under the power liftgate’s top lip, so it is invisible. The overall vehicle design is smooth, clean.
Inside, Limited trim offers two 10.5-inch screens — in front of the driver and the center panel — that differs from the 8-inch screens in other trims. Our sampled Limited’s vast touchscreen lacks the tactile feedback that the knobs and buttons of the other presentations, yet it remains more user-friendly than the setup utilized by several rivals. With Bose audio, navigation, Apple/Android and multiple USB ports front and rear, everyone should be satisfied with the available info/entertainment capabilities.
Limited also brings a giant panoramic sunroof, heated and cooled leather seating up front (with memory settings), heated only seating in the rear, plus a heated steering wheel. The full array of electronic driving aids (rear seat monitor, lane change assist, blind-spot monitor, forward braking assist, active dynamic cruise, parking assist, rear cross-path detection, side exit detection), with many standard on each Tucson trim level, is also included. Hyundai’s well-liked lane-change camera system is here, too, plus you can remote start and drive the Tucson out of tight parking spaces — with no one inside.
The same size as the RAV4 and CR-V, as well as the rest of the compact crossover class, the Tucson undercuts its rivals on price, while offering more content. The Tucson also comes with three years of free scheduled maintenance as well as that infamous 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty that vastly exceeds all rivals.
A composed and quiet driver, with great usable space throughout, and now handsome styling as well as improved fuel efficiency, the Tucson Hybrid jumps to the top of the segment and makes a statement that cannot be denied — Hyundai is making some very nice vehicles that consumers will surely want to embrace.