2016 Hyundai Tucson Review

The redesigned Hyundai Tucson is more attractive and refined than ever.

Compact crossovers are hot-ticket items; American motorists just can’t get enough of these elevated hatchbacks. To cash in on this vehicular bonanza, the folks at Hyundai have totally redesigned the Tucson for 2016.

Undoubtedly, Hyundai wants this car-based utility vehicle to make a big splash. But will it sink or swim? Can it keep this brand’s sales afloat? To find out, the company invited us to an appropriate place, Minneapolis. It’s true that Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes, though perhaps its nickname should really be the Hyperbole State. As a native Michigander, I don’t need any lectures about water, after all, we’re the GREAT LAKES STATE, so shut your trap, Minnesota!

Growing Gains

Compared to its predecessor, the Tucson has grown slightly for 2016. Redesigned vehicles, like repeat buyers, tend to get larger every go around, and this crossover continues the trend.

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This Hyundai is built around a new architecture that’s comprised of more than 50 percent high-strength steel, a material that helps increase strength without adding tons of extra mass. Accordingly, the new Tucson is about one inch wider, three inches lankier and rides on a wheelbase that’s been stretched 1.2 inches. These subtle-but-significant increases have resulted in a good bit more interior space.

2016 Hyundai Tucson Cargo-012016 Hyundai Tucson Cargo 02

With the Tucson’s 60/40 split rear seat in the upright position, you get about 31 cubic feet of cargo space. But fold the backrest down, and that figure doubles. Both of these measures exceed what’s offered in rivals like the Jeep Cherokee, though they’re slightly behind other products like the Honda CR-V or Ford Escape.

Making it a snap to load cargo into the hold, Hyundai offers something known as a Smart Power Liftgate. With the key fob on your person, just stand near the hatch for a few seconds and it pops open all on its own. This is perfect if your hands are full with groceries, luggage or even bags of shredded financial papers. If you’re cooking dinner or a company’s’ books this Hyundai is a happy partner in crime.

If you need to haul passengers instead of destroyed evidence the Tucson is game as well. Its back seat is surprisingly spacious, with unexpectedly generous amounts of leg and headroom. Additionally, the seat cushion is at an ergonomically correct height so even adult riders should be happy back there for hours at a stretch.

Bangers and Mash

Two engines are offered in the new Tucson. Its base engine is a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder that provides 164 horses and 151 lb-ft of torque. It’s matched exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission.

2016 Hyundai Tucson Engine-02

But do yourself a favor and sidestep this engine; what you really want is the turbocharged one-six. This force-fed ‘banger delvers just 11 more ponies than its un-boosted brother but, more importantly, it provides 195 lb-ft of low-end twist, which is important in a crossover vehicle that’s designed for heavy hauling.

Further differentiating this powertrain from its naturally aspirated counterpart is the transmission. It’s matched to a segment-first seven-speed dual-clutch automatic for quick shifts and enhanced fuel economy.

2016 Hyundai Tucson Controls-02For drivers that reside in four-season regions, the 2016 Tucson is available with selectable all-wheel drive. A fluid-filled center differential apportions torque front to rear and differential braking shuffles it from side to side at each axle. For particularly sloppy conditions, motorists can lock the system so it splits torque 50/50 front to rear.

The thriftiest version of this compact crossover is the front-drive Eco model. They sticker at 26 miles per gallon city, 33 highway and 29 combined. The all-wheel-drive Limited version we evaluated was slightly less economical returning 24 mpg around town, 28 on extra-urban routes and 26 combined.

Luxury for Less

In typical Hyundai fashion, the new Tucson’s cabin is impressive in several ways. The materials’ quality is high, while fit and finish is essentially flawless. The cabin is constructed largely of hard plastics with some soft stuff thrown in where it counts. It’s all extremely tasteful and as good as anything else in its class.

2016 Hyundai Tucson Interior 01

Premium features like Bluetooth, a USB port and keyless entry are all standard; heated front seats and cruise control are also included at no extra charge. Beyond all of this, the options list has plenty of juicy extras. You can get a navigation system with an eight-inch display, ventilated front seats, adaptive HID headlamps and more.

Safety First, Second and Third

2016 Hyundai Tucson Controls 03Other luxury-car amenities are also available in the Tucson. Consumers can opt for a variety of driver-assistance systems to make the task of motoring just a little easier.

Tucsons can be equipped with things like lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection is also offered. This technology uses optical and radar sensors to scan the road ahead. If it detects that you’re approaching an obstacle too quickly, it can apply the brakes to lessen – or even prevent – a collision. It functions at speeds ranging from five to 43 miles an hour.

2016 Hyundai Tucson Controls 04

In addition to all of this, a rearview camera is standard on every model. Thanks to generous amounts of safety equipment, Hyundai estimates the Tucson will earn Top Safety Pick+ honors from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the agency’s highest rating.

The Drive

Underway, the 1.6-liter turbo engine’s 195 lb-ft of twist comes on strong in the lower rev range, which is perfect for urban driving, especially if you’ve got a load of passengers or cargo weighing things down. Unfortunately, with such abundant basement-level torque. the engine does seem to run out a breath; it’s hardly gasping for air at highway speed, but it’s enthusiasm does taper off a bit as the tachometer needle sweeps toward redline.

Pleasing driver and passenger alike, this powerplant is thoroughly isolated; hardly any vibration makes its presence felt in the cabin. Overall, it’s remarkably polished for a mass-market four-banger.

2016 Hyundai Tucson Front 04

Regrettably, the new Tucson’s seven-speed dual dry-clutch automatic transmission isn’t quite as smooth. It’s curious why Hyundai chose to go with one of these gearboxes in such an important vehicle, especially considering how many issues other automakers have had, namely Ford with its PowerShift unit. Perhaps Hyundai product planners made this move in the name of fuel economy. Dual-clutch gearboxes tend to be more efficient than their torque converter-equipped counterparts.

Unfortunately, company engineers haven’t completely managed to exorcise the dual-clutch demons found in so many other vehicles equipped with these transmissions. On several occasions, I noticed the Tucson’s gearbox shudder slightly at parking-lot speeds. Also, when taking off from a standstill, there seemed to be quite a lot of slipping before the clutch locked up.

Beyond this, downshifts can take a little longer than you’d like as the computer circuits and electronic actuators rifle through the ratio stack in search of the appropriate gear. Wait times are hardly brutal, but they could be a beat or two faster.

2016 Hyundai Tucsons 01

Aside from enhanced fuel economy, dual-clutch gearboxes tend to shift faster than other automatic transmissions. The Tucson’s is plenty quick going from gear to gear though it doesn’t seem appreciably fleeter than a good torque-converter automatic.

All of these gripes aides, this transmission really isn’t that bad; in fact, it’s one of the best mass-market dual-clutch units available today, it’s just not quite as refined as a traditional self-shifting gearbox.

As for the rest of the new Tucson’s driving experience, it’s every bit as composed and quiet on the road as any of its rivals; its cabin is practically like a road-going anechoic chamber it’s so silent. The steering is class appropriate, though some additional feedback would be appreciated. For the most part, it seems a bit dull. Also, the A-pillars could stand to slim down a bit, but couldn’t we all?

The Verdict: 2016 Hyundai Tucson Review

2016 Hyundai Tucson Front 05The 2016 Hyundai Tucson is more attractive and refined than ever, but it’s still a great value. Base price for an entry-level SE model is $23,595 including $895 for delivery. The all-wheel-drive Limited version I evaluated cost $32,510 out the door.

Despite a couple slight disadvantages, the new Tucson is spacious, incredibly refined and more comfortable than you might expect. Without doing a direct comparison test it’s impossible to tell if this is a best-in-class crossover but I can say it’s certainly near the top.

  • expert

    great looking SUV, definitely would be on my list if I was in the market for a small SUV.

  • SamAdams

    It’s not a SUV it’s an attractive golf cart. With the horse power and torque that low you might need a few people to get out and push you out of the snow or mud…

  • ReggieV

    Put a 6 in it and you’ll sell many!

  • Skyking929

    IMO it’s too small to compete well in it’s segment given that a full sized Santa Fe trades off only a few mpg’s and brings the ability to take a family of four on vacation without resorting to Fed Ex to ship the luggage. The Honda CRV is still the one to beat.

  • Remag1

    Different Strokes For Different Folks.
    No one cares what you think!

  • Jonny_Vancouver

    Hyundai is an interesting brand. Not quite Japanese quality, but close. Good value for the buck, and it seems like they’re really trying to understand what we want. They’re worth supporting imo, they take risks and their heart seems in it, in general. Speaking from experience, I never had any major problems with the brand and dealing with them for reg maintenance was strait forward and honest. For that reason alone I’d recommend the brand.

  • Ramoncstone

    can you like auto < w­­­w­­­w.­­­­N­e­t­C­a­s­h­­­9­­.­­­C­­­o­­­m

  • Phil

    For decades now hyundai does nothing but copy what others are doing. This is so identical in shape and design as the CX-5 I can only shake my head at it. I can’t wait for the day Hyundai designers come up with something of their own. the day they stop copying the Japanese is the day ill respect them. … Oh and powertrain refinement is still an issue, as always at hyundai… but there’s enough monthly payment shoppers out there it’ll sell

  • dazoe

    They copy mostly from the Europeans.

  • Brad

    6 foot frame. OK pal, and i bet it goes all the way down to your knees….. Who is this scrawny kid kidding…..

  • Jay Hawke

    Really close comparison, I think it comes down to looks, specs are so close. Hyundai looks better, though. I am a huge Honda fan but they have horrible styling.

  • Jay Hawke

    No way, it’s pretty much on spec with everything in that class, torque is way more important than hp.

  • Jay Hawke

    Best looking in that range for sure. Hyundai styling is really good.