Redesigned for its third generation as a 2016 model, Hyundai’s compact crossover hasn’t changed much for 2017. An automatic liftgate is available on 2017 Hyundai Tucson.
Even though the Tucson breaks no barriers, it’s a handsome, value-priced crossover SUV. Externally and internally, it looks classier than might be expected. In addition to a quiet cabin, each Tucson promises a pleasantly refined ride.
Three trim levels are offered: entry-level SE, thrifty Eco, Sport, and top-end Limited. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available.
Tucson SE holds a direct-injected, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which develops 164 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque and teams with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
All other Tucsons get a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, producing 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet. That stronger torque figure gives upper-trim models more confident performance. Rather than a conventional automatic transmission, turbo versions get a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic.
In urban driving, the turbocharged engine can feel sluggish due to turbo lag.
Crash-testing gave Tucson five-star scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for frontal and side impacts, but a four-star rating for rollover resistance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety made Tucson a Top Safety Pick, but only in Limited trim with the optional automatic braking. Sport and Limited versions include blind-spot monitoring, lane change assist, and rear cross-traffic alert.
The 2017 Hyundai Tucson SE ($22,700) has front-wheel drive and 2.0-liter engine with 6-speed automatic. Standard equipment includes a rearview camera, 5.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, satellite radio, cruise control, air conditioning, automatic headlights, a tilt/telescopic steering column, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Cloth upholstery is stain- and odor-resistant. A Popular option package adds roof rails, LED running lights and other features.
All-wheel drive ($1,400) is available for each model. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
Tucson Eco ($24,150) gets the 1.6-liter turbo and dual-clutch automatic, as well as a power driver’s seat, low rolling-resistance tires and aerodynamically styled 17-inch wheels.
Tucson SE Plus ($26,750) adds heated power front seats, navigation, blind-spot detection, and other features. Tucson Sport ($25,900) has keyless ignition, 19-inch wheels, several driver-assist features, and an automatic liftgate. Tucson Night ($27,800) includes a perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, and aluminum pedals.
Tucson Limited ($29,775) adds such luxuries as leather upholstery, navigation with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, dual-zone automatic climate control, and telematics. An Ultimate Package adds a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
More conventional in appearance than its predecessors, the current Tucson benefits from a clean, well-sculpted body. Despite breaking no new ground, the compact crossover comes across as relatively upscale in appearance.
Many design elements are shared with the larger Santa Fe. Styling themes include a hexagonal grille flanked by geometrically shaped headlights, plus a comparatively short greenhouse. Sport and Limited trim levels stand somewhat apart visually, helped by black/silver finished 19-inch wheels.
Four adults can comfortably occupy the efficiently configured cabin, though some rivals are a bit more spacious. Even with taller passengers up front, rear-seat riders get ample legroom.
Bolstered front seats ensure long-drive comfort. Passenger seats are height-adjustable.
All Tucsons feel well-built, but SE and Eco interiors seem low-budget, with plenty of hard plastic trim in the SE.
Otherwise, cabins convey an upscale tone of elegant simplicity, with superbly laid-out controls. Relatively slim roof pillars help provide a fine forward view. Pick a Limited and you get leather seats, soft-touch trim, and instrument-panel stitching.
Simple analog gauges flank digital readouts. Buttons are used for principal functions, with a touchscreen for supplementary commands. Because switches tend to be similar in size, finding the desired one at a glance can be challenging.
Cargo space isn’t as abundant as some competitors offer, though the load floor may be lowered by 2 inches to ease loading of heavier or taller items. Volume totals 30.1 cubic feet with the 60/40-split rear seats upright, expanding to 61.9 cubic feet with those seats folded.
Though adequate, performance is less stirring than some rivals can deliver. The SE model actually feels stronger when starting off, but soon begins to weaken when judged against the more powerful turbocharged models. When filled with passengers and luggage, even the turbo tends to falter, actually feeling lethargic at times.
Shifts are barely perceptible with the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Expect a smoothly refined ride generally, though handling is markedly less sporty in nature than appearance might suggest. Of course, it’s wholly appropriate for the compact crossover category. On twisting two-lane roads, reactions are capable and predictable, though some drivers might be displeased by the steering’s lifeless nature.
With 19-inch wheels, ride quality becomes somewhat firm, and it can quickly become jarring when rolling over patchy pavement or hitting strings of expansion joints.
All-wheel-drive Tucsons include torque vectoring, which improves behavior and stability when cornering quickly. More common in sporty cars, torque vectoring can brake the inside rear wheel, while sending extra torque to the outside.
Tucsons offer three driving modes: Normal, Eco, and Sport. At highway speeds, the cabin is pleasantly quiet.
Curiously, the less-powerful SE consumes more fuel than the turbo does, EPA-rated with front-wheel drive at only 23/30 mpg City/Highway, or 26 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive trims SE mileage to 21/26/23 mpg. Sport and Limited turbo models are EPA-rated at 25/30 mpg City/Highway, or 27 mpg Combined, with front-drive. The Eco managed 26/33/29 mpg.
Hyundai Tucsons come in a variety of forms, starting at a moderate price. As with other smaller crossovers, total cost can rise swiftly by adding options or moving to a higher trim level. SE and Eco models are sparsely equipped, but a Limited is especially well-fitted.
Driving impressions by Andrew Ganz, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.