Hyundai’s Tucson AWD compact SUV takes on a crowded field, but can hold its own among the top sellers. And in some ways, a possible better choice over those.
Tucson comes in AWD and FWD and in trim levels SE, SEL, SEL Plus and Limited for 2018. Since we received it late, we tested the now discontinued for 2017 Night trim level that essentially contains black 19-inch wheels, black side mirrors and matte black side sills, aluminum sport pedals, panoramic sunroof and sportier leather wrapped steering wheel. The Night reflects the latest styling craze that blacks out several exterior items for a macho, tough appearance. And since it’s a close-out, and if you can locate one, the dealer may offer a compelling deal.
Our Night came with a peppy 1.6-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder that generates 175-hp and 195 lb/ft of torque. Coupling to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, EPA mileage is rated at 24 city and 28-highway mpg. The combination provides lively acceleration particularly when the turbo kicks in. Punch the Sport button and the system makes the throttle and trans more responsive for better performance that is helped by a quick shifting transmission.
For those who desire to tow a small trailer, Tucson is rated for 1,000 pounds or 1,500 if employing trailer brakes.
Tucson rides quietly and composed on 19-inch Hankook tires. The suspension exudes confidence around sharp turns and it parks easily with a 34.9 foot turning diameter. There’s also no tippy feeling when negotiating hairpins or cloverleaf’s.
Tucson’s AWD features a “lock” mode switch that when depressed, gives the vehicle a 50/50 torque split between the front and rear wheels when added traction is needed. It automatically disengages at speeds over 20 mph. But if the vehicle slows down to 20 mpg or below, the system shifts back to the lock mode provided the switch wasn’t disengaged.
A low 19-inch step-in into the cabin has you slipping onto long-wearing, stain resistant cloth seats. The front buckets offer just the right amount of lateral support to keep the torso from slipping around during mild off-road jaunts. The rear seats have adequate leg room for two adults or three tweens, provided the fronts aren’t racked too far rearward. Head room is ample fore and aft. Ingress/egress is easy thanks to wide opening doors.
Upon nestling into the cockpit, all controls are nicely placed and easy to use. The center 5-inch touchscreen (a 7-inch is offered on higher trim levels) displays audio and rearview camera functions, but GPS navigation was absent from the system.
For sun lovers, Tucson comes with a 48x28-inch panoramic sunroof. However, like most, only the front portion opens.
Back in the cargo area and with the 60/40 rear seatbacks upright, there’s 31 cubic feet of space. Flip them and capacity increases to 61.9 cubic feet. More meaningful perhaps and with the seats up, the area measures 34 inches deep, 43.5 wide and 29.5 high. Flip them and depth extends to 65 inches. Beneath the cargo floor where the space saver tire resides, there is some small item storage around the spare tire. Cargo load height is a low 28 inches and when loading, Tucson offers a Smart Power Tailgate. Unlike Ford’s Escape where to open the gate hands-free, you need to wave a foot under the bumper, Tucson’s gate opens automatically when the keyfob holder stands behind the vehicle for a few seconds.
Now here’s the attractive feature. With 20 safety/amenity/ features offered, the only extra cost item are floor mats for $125. That brings the base price of $29,200 to an affordable $30,220 with a delivery charge of $895.
Added to this compelling price, Tucson received a full five-star overall government safety rating; five stars for driver/passenger frontal crash; five for front/rear seat side crash and four stars for rollover. In 2016, MotorWeek gave the Tucson their Drivers Choice Award for Best Small Utility. And it’s tough to best Hyundai’s generous warranties: 10 year, 100,000 powertrain warranty; 5/60K new vehicle warranty; 7/Unlimited anti-perforation; 5/Unlimited 24-hour roadside assistance.
Combining these warranties with a reasonable price, Tucson remains a “good buy” for a compact SUV.