2024 Hyundai Tucson XRT AWD
A Compact SUV With A Midsize Feel
For under $40,000, this is a great all-around family vehicle - albeit a bit under-powered.
By J-F Wright
Mon, Jan 15, 2024 06:13 PM PST
Images by the author, edited by Erica Wright.
As with all models, the Hyundai Tucson has grown since it was first conceived many years ago - the car-folks call it “model creep” since the models creep up in size. It’s still a compact SUV - the models rarely, if ever, creep out of their class - but for anybody who eyed the Tucson many years back and thought “that’s too small for us”, you might want to take another look. Actually, the designator “compact SUV” gives the wrong impression, the Tucson does not feel very compact at all.
A great way to judge the roominess of a car is by the rear seat. If sitting in the back is not a problem, then sitting up front will be great. And in the Tucson, I would not mind spending time in the rear seat. There’s a bunch of space, for both legs and shoulders, and the seats are large and comfortable. The Tucson is wide enough to stick three kids in the rear seat without much fuss - they all actually commented on the fact that they had plenty of space. And oh yeah - the rear seats recline.
Even further back, in the trunk, the Tucson again seems to defy the whole idea of a “compact” SUV. The trunk space is large - definitely large enough for the normal family hauling - a Costco run for example. And then, if you fold the rear seats down, you’ll have even more space.
Up front the driver and passenger also sit comfortably - again the Tucson doesn’t seem very “compact” up here either. The H-Tex seating surfaces look and feel a whole lot like leather, and the leather wrapped steering wheel add to that luxurious feeling. Front seats are heated, and you’ll enjoy the two-zone climate control.
On the Monroney (that sticker on the window of a new car, listing key facts and figures) says “Dual Automatic Temperature Control; Rear Air Vents”. The text “rear air vents” may seem a bit superfluous, but trust me, it’s not. It’s actually not as standard as one might think, to have working air vents for the rear seat occupants. We’ve seen high-end Lexus vehicles with physical vents in the back that did not blow air (OMG - is that an option on a $80,000 car?), resulting in less-than-thrilled kids on a hot sunny day. So, a tip for the person hunting for a new car - sit in the back and make sure that those vents actually blow air…
The Hyundai Tucson XRT AWD comes with a 10.25-inch infotainment system to house the navigation system, entertainment systems, and pretty much all the other nifty gadgets included in a plethora of tech features. This is also where your phone gets displayed through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The center console is a flat surface with a plastic-like facia. Buttons are all built into this plastic film, and buttons/dials “shine through” it so you know where to push for a desired effect. Even though the actual infotainment screen is not that large, this screen-like housing of buttons makes the entire center console kinda feel like one giant screen.
The Hyundai Tucson comes loaded with a bunch of safety and convenience technology. The adaptive cruise control does a great job at being, well, adaptive. However, when it comes to the Lane Keeping Assist and Lane Following Assist the key word is “assist”. These systems will keep you in your lane on a fairly straight highway, but it will definitely not steer for you on a bit more curvy roads.
The Tucson is definitely a comfortable vehicle - both for the driver and for the passengers. It is the type of car bought by people who are buying a transportation device rather than a “fun car” - ie not “car people” - but that doesn’t mean it will handle poorly. The Tucson isn’t going to rock and roll with your every turn of the steering wheel - it feels stable and controlled at any legal speed - nor are you going to have a fun time whipping around corners in it. But then again, why would you be whipping around corners in a Hyundai Tucson?
The one downer - or drawback - of the Hyundai Tucson XRT AWD, with the Smartstream 2.5L 4-cylinder engine - is the constant reminder that you don’t have much power. This car is underpowered. Flooring it in the Tucson doesn’t do much - the 8-speed automatic transmission smoothly switches gears and the HTRAC all-wheel drive system does a great job getting whatever power is coming from the engine down to the asphalt, but there just isn’t much juice here.
As mentioned, this isn’t supposed to be a race-SUV or even a fun SUV - it’s a “compact SUV” for crying out loud. So the fact that you don’t have a bunch of power at your disposal shouldn’t be much of a problem for the potential buyer - that’s not what they are looking for. What they might care more about is the gas mileage - the Tucson gets an estimated average of 25mpg: 23mpg (city) and 29mpg (highway).
In my opinion there aren’t many models - from any manufacturer - that aren’t at least trying to look good. The Tucson is no exception - the designers and engineers have done a great job. The multi-row/multi-part headlights seem to extend the already large grille up and around the corners of the front. And the somewhat sharp - but still subtle - design of the Tucson’s side give it a bit more of an aggressive impression. And to round it all off, the Tucson’s rear end has a jagged look brought on but he split taillights that is then nicely rounded off with a LED strip covering the full-width of the car.
Speaking of the rear end. The trunk handle is placed awkwardly low… Like, it took me some fumbling around to realize that the handle was not where one might have expected it to be - just above the license plate. It is, instead, located at the absolute bottom of the butt, just above the rear bumper. I guess that’s a great thief deterrent - they can’t figure out how to get in to your trunk.
The 2023 Hyundai Tucson - for under $40,000 - is a lot of car for the money. It’s a pleasant ride for everyone, even big enough for three kids abreast in the rear. The rear seats are actually decent for adults as well. The Tucson is comfortable to drive, smooth to ride, and easy to hide - it does not stick out or call attention to itself.
About The Author
John-Fredrik Wright was born in Sweden, but raised on both sides of the Atlantic. His experience in the automotive industry starts with a summer-job as a host at Volkswagen’s premier showroom in Stockholm. Later, he worked as an instructor at Swedish Active Driving, teaching safe driving (among other things the renowned "elk-avoidance maneuver") and advanced driving techniques.