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This one’s neither red, nor a Rover. But in the highly competitive game of crossover SUV one-upmanship, it’s the latest model to enter the field. We’re referring to the 2016 Hyundai Tucson, and it’s a significant leap forward from the old Tucson—which really isn’t that old. Leave it to Hyundai to raise the crossover bar this quickly. Game on. Reed Berry reports.
By Reed Berry
Crossover vehicles have become extremely popular in recent years. Larger than a car but smaller than a full-size SUV, crossovers seem to be a perfect fit for those who want a vehicle that is both practical and functional. Take one of these versatile vehicles, give it a stylish body design, load it with cool features and you have the 2016 Hyundai Tucson.
Proving that there is life outside of Southern California, I am taking a scenic drive through Minnesota and Wisconsin. I guess there are certain times of the year when this part of the country would be less scenic and quite cold, but today’s beautiful sunny, warm weather provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy this picturesque area as I road test the new Tucson to see if it lives up to Hyundai’s hype.
Not unlike other Hyundai vehicles, each new model year seems to produce a more distinctive, eye-catching look for Tucson. The newest version is no exception with sleek European-inspired styling that gives Tucson a bold, sporty appearance. The striking alloy wheels (17 or 19-inches, depending on model) with a chiseled spoke design further enhance the exterior aesthetics.
On the inside, Tucson is quite spacious thanks to intelligent interior design combined with the fact it is a bit larger than the previous model. For 2016, Tucson is 3.0 inches longer, 1.1 inches wider and the wheelbase has been lengthened by 1.2 inches. Cargo space has been increased by more than five cubic feet from 25.7 to an impressive 31.0 cubic feet.
When discussing Tucson, it is important to note that it is not one vehicle as there are really eight possible configurations. There are four models, each with standard front wheel drive and available all-wheel drive. SE is the entry level offering, decently equipped but certainly no-frills compared to the other models. Moving up the Tucson family tree, you have Eco, Sport and Limited.
I’m driving the top-of-the-line Limited AWD so, needless to say, I’m being pampered with a number of features that will make today’s road test even more enjoyable. The leather seating surfaces are quite comfortable and, although I won’t be using this particular feature today, the front seats are heated for cold weather driving. Ventilated front seats and heated rear seats are optional on this model. The leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob add to the look and feel of quality.
While the outside temperature may be a bit warm today, my passenger and I are cool and comfortable with dual automatic temperature control. There are floor console mounted AC vents for rear seat passengers. To keep our interior environment fresh, Tucson Limited is equipped with an air ionizer to remove dust particles from the air and neutralize odors. All other Tucson models feature manual air conditioning.
As for infotainment, the Tucson Limited features an awesome 405-watt premium audio system with eight speakers, HD Radio, 8-inch color touchscreen and navigation. All other models have a respectable, but slightly less impressive, six-speaker audio system with a 5-inch touchscreen and no navigation. All Tucson models have AM / FM / satellite radio with CD player, auxiliary input jacks (including iPod and USB connectivity), Bluetooth hands-free calling and a back-up camera for safety.
As I make my way along the rural roads of Minnesota on my way to Wisconsin, I notice two things. Most impressive, perhaps, is how quiet this vehicle is. Regardless of the road condition or vehicle speed, the interior noise level remains quite low, making an enjoyable drive even more pleasant and relaxing. The other thing is that, given the scenery, I find myself humming the theme to “Green Acres,” the classic 1960s-era TV sitcom that revolves around rural farm living.
Also apparent as I continue my drive is the generous power under the hood. Tucson Limited has, as do the Eco and Sport models, a 175-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged four cylinder engine paired with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. Except for a very slight hesitation on acceleration, it seems to perform quite nicely. The SE is powered by a 164-hp four cylinder engine (sorry, no turbo on this model) paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Handling is also fairly impressive. With MacPherson struts on the front, multi-link rear suspension and premium shock absorbers, Tucson glides over just about any road surface with relative ease, providing a comfortable ride without sacrificing the feel of the road. Handling is quite responsive thanks to rack-and-pinion power steering (standard on all models) and the big 19-inch wheels that come standard on the Sport and Limited.
Hyundai is known for state-of-the-art safety features and, while each Tucson model comes with a variety of standard safety features including a variety of airbags, anti-lock brakes and stability control, some of the most important safety features are available only on the Sport and Limited models. Specifically, blind spot detection and lane change assist for transitioning safely from lane to lane, and rear cross-traffic alert for safe backing.
Three additional safety features are available (but not standard) only on Tucson Limited – lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and backup warning sensors. In a perfect world, these potentially life-saving safety features would be available on all Tucson models, either as standard equipment or, at the very least, available options. It seems a shame for such important technology to be limited to only one specific model.
Similarly, one of Tucson’s most appealing features, a panoramic sunroof, doesn’t come standard on any Tucson model and is available as an option (or as part of the $2,750 Ultimate Package) only on Limited. While I can understand why this feature may not be made available on the entry-level SE model, it should be offered on the other three. Based on the way each model is styled and equipped, if I was purchasing a new Tucson I would probably opt for the Sport model and, quite frankly, would be a bit disappointed if I couldn’t add a sunroof.
Based on features and performance, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson seems to be an exceptional value. With suggested retail prices ranging from just over $22K for the SE to a fully loaded Limited for under $35K, Tucson is bound to stand out in the very competitive crossover crowd.
Name of vehicle:
2016 Hyundai Tucson
2.0L: GDI DOHC 16-valve with CVVT Inline 4-cylinder
1.6T: Turbo-GDI DOHC 16-valve with CVVT Inline 4-cylinder
2.0L: 164 HP @ 6,200 rpm
1.6T: 175 HP @ 5,500 rpm
2.0L: 151 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
1.6T: 195 lb-ft @ 1,500-4,500 rpm
2.0L: 6-speed automatic with OD lock-up torque converter, gate type, electronic shift lock system; Shiftronic manual shift mode
1.6T: 7-speed EcoShift Dual Clutch Transmission
Motor Driven Power Steering (MDPS), rack & pinion steering, column-mounted
Front: MacPherson struts with gas pressurized shock absorbers and stabilizer bar
Rear: Independent multi-link with gas pressurized shock absorbers and stabilizer bar
Front: Power-assisted 305 mm x 25 mm ventilated disc
Rear: Power-assisted 302 mm x 10 mm solid disc
Four-wheel ABS with Electronic Stability Control and Traction Control System
17 x 7J alloy wheel (SE/Eco)
19 x 7.5J alloy wheel (Sport/Limited)
Overall width (excluding mirrors):
64.8” (65.0” with roof rails)
2.0L: 3,325 – 3,439 lbs (FWD); 3,490 – 3,602 lbs (AWD)
1.6T: 3,369 – 3,580 lbs (FWD); 3,499 – 3,710 lbs (AWD)
EPA Fuel Economy Estimates (City / Highway / Combined):
FWD: SE 23/31/26; ECO 26/33/29; Sport/Limited 25/30/27
AWD: SE 21/26/23; ECO 25/31/27; Sport/Limited 24/28/26