While the compact crossover utility vehicle (CUV) segment continues to expand, the third generation Hyundai Tucson has a leg up on the competition. Considered a “stepping stone” to its larger sibling, the Santa Fe Sport, the redesigned 2016 Tucson appeals to buyers, e.g. young families, with fuel economy, safety technology, and versatility.
At the regional launch in Asheville, North Carolina, the Tucson handled nicely on curves while maintaining low noise, vibration, and harshness in the cabin—sound dampening and insulation improvements make it one of the quietest in its segment.
Available in four trim levels, a 2.0-liter, direct injected four-cylinder with 164 horsepower and paired with a six-speed automatic transmission powers the base or SE model. The 2.0-liter should achieve an EPA estimated fuel economy of 23 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. A larger fuel tank also improves driving range.
A 1.6-liter turbocharged, direct-injected four-cylinder with 175 horsepower matched to a first–in-segment seven-speed EcoShift dual clutch automatic transmission powers the three remaining trims Eco, Sport, and Limited. Available in front-wheel- or all-wheel-drive versions, the 1.6-liter paired with the Eco trim level offers the best fuel economy. It should achieve an EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 26/33 mpg. At the launch, we drove Limited and Sport versions and the fuel economy remained close to the expected combined fuel economy of 29 mpg for the AWD and 27 mpg for the FWD.
For better performance, driver’s can also engage Drive Mode Select, standard on all models, to select a desired setting among Eco, Normal, and Sport. On the test drive, Sport mode provided a definite energy boost.
Rear cargo area increases by 5.3 cubic feet to 31 total. With the 60/40 split rear seats folded flat it expands to 61.9 cubic feet. There’s also an innovative dual-level cargo floor in the rear that can be lowered two inches for packing smaller items.
The smart cargo liftgate is available with a hands free mode that automatically opens the rear liftgate after three seconds if it senses the keys are within three feet, i.e. you don’t have to wave a foot below the bumper to engage it.
Standard features on the base model include a rearview camera, a blinds spot mirror on the driver’s side, remote keyless entry with alarm, electronic stability control, and traction control. Stepping up to the Sport model adds more cutting edge features like a blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, and lane change assist. To get Hyundai’s newest safety feature, a pedestrian sensor with braking, you’ll have to add the Ultimate Package, but that also includes heated and ventilated front seats and heated rear seats.
Standard creature comforts include a tilt and telescopic steering wheel with radio and cruise controls, YES Essentials cloth seats, air conditioning, a five-inch color touchscreen with AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD/MP3 audio system, and iPod/USB/auxiliary input jacks.
Pricing for the 2016 Tucson SE base model, which is not sold as-is but can still be upfitted with a few optional features, like roof rails or illuminated vanity mirrors, starts at $23,595.