Just about the time that I think Hyundai is going to run out of steam, the folks running the carmaker always seem to find a way to throw more coal into the fire. The 2016 Hyundai Tucson is solid proof that the Korean automaker is only getting hotter.
The previous generation Tucson was an SUV that offered great value. Having said that, I was never a huge fan of its looks. The Tucson wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t as good as some of the other cars in the class, or even other Hyundais. The 2016 model has changed that. All new from front to back, the styling has taken a huge leap forward with what the company calls its Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design theme . I’m not really sure what that means, but it looks great standing next to the compact SUV competition, or by itself. The bolder grill (designed to match the company styling) is a nice touch up front, along with better looking headlights, running lights and turn signals. The old styling looked a little soft to me, the new version has a nice crisp side accent running from front to back angling upwards as it goes.
The 2016 Tucson is bigger in just about every way. The wheelbase is more than an inch longer and the overall length added three inches. Impressively, it was done without adding a lot of weight. The new model is only about 60 pounds heavier than last year’s edition.
You have two engine choices. My test car had the new 1.6 liter turbo four-cylinder. It makes 175 horsepower. While that’s less than the 180 horses that came from last year’s 2.4 cylinder engine, it’s made a big jump in mileage. The turbo delivers 24 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway with a combined number of 26 mpg. That’s a full four mpg better than last year. During my week with the Tucson I managed slightly more than 28 mpg. I found it pretty peppy accelerating away from a stop, although giving gas at higher speed wasn’t quite as satisfying. You have a choice of sport, eco or normal modes depending on what you want to achieve. You can also get a 2.0 liter cylinder that gives a combined 26 mpg, but with 11 fewer horsepower.
I particularly like the interior. It has a clean dash with a nicely integrated display screen. That display is five inches on the base model but eight inches on the Limited model. It definitely makes a difference. The seats were comfortable and everything just felt right. While most of the interior dimensions are slightly larger, for some reason the rear seat leg room was a little less. Still, we went out to dinner with a six-foot three friend of ours in the back seat, and he said it felt fine. That rear seat also has optional heating which is something you rarely see in this price range. Throw in ventilated front seats for those hot summer days, and the interior gets pretty cozy.
One of the most impressive improvements is the list of safety features now available. You can get a Lane Departure Warning system, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross-traffic Alert, Lane Change Assist, Backup Warning Sensors and Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB). The reality is that most drivers need help and the modern safety systems can really make a difference. If you’re debating about whether they’re worth the extra money, I vote yes.
My test car with the Limited package came in at $32,510. While that didn’t include every safety option, it was still a lot of value for the money. Throw in Hyundai’s five-year/60,000 mile basic warranty and 10 years/100,000 miles on the drivetrain and the price looks even better.
From style to performance, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson is proof that the Korean carmaker is steaming full speed ahead. And everyone else is going to have to work harder to catch up.