2016 Hyundai Tucson Limited AWDPosted on April 13th, 2016
Compact crossover is the complete package
By Nina Russin
The citizens of Tucson, Arizona should be proud that Hyundai has named its compact crossover after their fine burg. The new Hyundai Tucson embodies the spirit of its namesake, with focus on performance and versatility for buyers with active lifestyles.
A new 1.6-liter engine available on Eco, Sport and Limited grades is an impressive piece of machinery. The turbocharger takes very little effort to start spinning, enabling the block to quickly build power. Peak torque, 195 pound-feet, is available from 1500 rpm: a tip of the throttle.
Whereas competitors have gone to continuously variable automatic transmissions to boost gas mileage, Hyundai developed a new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Performance is almost as crisp as a manual gearbox.
Average fuel economy for the all-wheel drive car is 26 miles-per-gallon: pretty impressive since all-wheel drive typically reduces gas mileage by at least a mile-per-gallon.
The Limited model tested comes fully loaded, with convenience features including 19-inch alloy wheels, dual chrome exhaust pipes, LED headlamps, tail lamps and daytime running lamps, power liftgate, leather upholstery with power front seats, dual-zone climate control, 60/40 split folding rear seats, satellite radio, Bluetooth interface, eight-inch touchscreen center stack display, satellite radio and panoramic moonroof.
Pricing for the Limited AWD starts at $31,300 excluding the $895 destination charge. Two stand-alone options- carpeted floor mats and a cargo area cover- bring the final MSRP to $32,510.
Test drive in Southern Arizona
Over the past week I drove the new Tucson throughout Phoenix, Arizona’s east valley as well as sections of the Gila River Indian Community south of town. After this experience I would have to wonder why anyone would spend more on a competitive product, since the Hyundai did such a good job of filling all the squares.
The powertrain is flawless, with exceptionally good acceleration off the line and in the 20-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging into high-speed traffic. The automatic transmission offers smooth, linear shifting with no noticeable shift shock under normal driving conditions.
While I’m not a big fan of electric power steering systems, this one is nicely tuned with decent on-center response and pleasantly heavy feel at speed. One of the advantages of E.P.A.S is low-speed maneuverability. The Tucson’s 34.9-foot turning circle makes it easy to wind through crowded urban areas and perform the occasional U-turn.
A four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link setup in back. Gas pressurized shocks and stabilizer bars keep the chassis flat in the corners. The nineteen-inch rims on the test car provide a fatter footprint than standard 17-inch wheels on lower grades for better performance at speed.
Ventilated front discs and solid rotors in the back serve up firm, linear braking.
The Magna all-wheel drive system maintains a front-wheel drive bias during normal conditions, but when traction is poor, sends engine power to the wheels with the best grip. Torque vectoring can move power from side to side as well to prevent understeer.
The car’s swoopy exterior styling, while attractive, creates some rather large blind spots towards the back. Blind spot monitoring on the test car is a necessity, especially for drivers who encounter rush-hour traffic on a daily basis. A standard rearview camera makes it easier to see cross-traffic in crowded parking lots.
Engineers did an excellent job on NVH. Interior quiet is excellent, making it easy for occupants in both rows to converse or enjoy the premium audio system on long road trips.
Keyless entry and start enables owners to enter the car and fire the ignition without fumbling for the key fob, adding a measure of safety after dark. To be honest, the leather upholstery that comes standard on the Limited grade would not be my choice: it can get scalding hot during our extreme summer heat. A no-cost cloth seat option would be a nicer alternative for buyers in similar climates.
Power seat adjustments are easy to use providing adequate lower lumbar support for longer trips. The fold-flat rear seats extend the cargo floor for loading in snowboards, bicycles and other large items.
A split screen center stack image enables the driver to monitor audio settings while using the standard navigation system. I found the screen easy to read in bright sunlight and after dark. Ditto for the gauge cluster and thin-film-transistor information display.
The power liftgate on the Limted model makes it much easier to load large cargo in back. A standard rear bumper guard prevents dings and paint chips when loading bicycles in after a weekend of hard play.
The Hyundai Tucson comes with six airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, tire pressure monitoring and daytime running lamps. The Limited model adds blind spot monitoring, rearview camera with cross traffic alert and BlueLink telematics.
The all-new Tucson is on display at Hyundai dealerships nationwide.
Like: Great powertrain with excellent fuel economy, high level of standard safety and convenience features.
Dislike: Large blind spots around the rear pillars.
Model: Tucson AWD Limited
Base price (test car): $31,300
As tested: $32,510
Horsepower: 175 Hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 195 lbs.-ft. @ 1500 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 24/28 mpg city/highway2016, Best Value 2016, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Hyundai, performance, pricing, standard safety