Ultimately, one of the best choices in the segment
Words by: Adam Allen
Huh? A new Tucson already?
We wondered the same thing. Didn’t Hyundai just come out with a new Tucson, like, yesterday? More accurately, the Tucson received major update for model year 2016 which makes the 3rd generation one of the shortest lived in the entire automotive kingdom. It isn’t like the outgoing model was fatally flawed or catastrophically terrible to drive- actually, it was among the best in class and a huge leap forward over the generation before it- but Hyundai decided to keep the good times rolling by gifting us a revised Tucson for 2019. This time around, think evolution rather than revolution. Park a 2019 next to a 2018 and only the sharpest eyes will be able to tell the difference. The upgrades aren’t so much evident on the surface but rather occur below the surface.
Let’s hear more about those upgrades.
We’ll start outside because that is where the tweaks are most subtle. The Tucson’s prow has been revised with a new grille flanked by sharp looking headlights- our tester’s HID units provided clean, bright light that pierced the darkness during night driving and the LED daytime running lights have been changed as well. Hyundai lavished more attention on the interior- not that it was lacking in the 2018 model. The same sense of conscientious build quality and flawless ergonomics carry over, but the first thing buyers will notice is the tablet style 7.0-inch touchscreen display that is super easy to manipulate thanks to a wholly intuitive interface. Our Ultimate tester also had a few extra goodies in a heated steering wheel, heated and cooled leather seats as well as a fancy cabin air ionizer. Hyundai doesn’t skimp on safety equipment either- here’s a list of technologies that’ll help keep you and your passengers safe:
- Forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection
- Lane departure warning with lane keeping assist
- Blind spot collision warning with lane keeping assist
- Rear cross traffic collision warning
- Parking distance warning
- High beam assist
Any upgrades to the driving experience?
Some might consider the new up level engine featured in our tester a downgrade, because we say goodbye to the zesty turbocharged 1.6 litre four banger and 7-speed dual clutch gearbox- universally accepted as a lovely drivetrain. The new 2.4 litre unit isn’t a disappointment per se, it’s just not as fun as the old hardware. And as good as the dual clutch gearbox was, it was prone to bouts of indecision which is not the kind of behavior you want to deal with when trying to merge into speeding traffic; we like the current 6-speed transmission better. We’d say the dynamic highlight of the new Tucson is the ride quality. It’s astonishingly smooth over all kinds of nasty tarmac and soaks up bumps with ease. It’s no corner carver, but it is satisfyingly responsive and goes down the road with confidence. This is yet further evidence that Hyundai is slowly but surely making strides in suspension tuning, a weak point in the past but getting better with each passing model year. Perhaps the best phrase we can lavish on the Tucson is that prior to our test drive we spent a week in a luxury SUV, and we enjoyed driving the Hyundai more. No, we cannot believe we just typed that sentence either, but it’s true.
What might go wrong?
We admit that you can count us among those mourning the loss of the turbo engine. Here’s an idea we’d run by Hyundai- why not take the running gear from the upcoming Veloster N and give us enthusiasts a Tucson N? That would really be something, and Hyundai would be breaking ground by offering a performance model in a class bereft of one. If that isn’t in the cards, perhaps jazzing up the interior with some colour might be a more realistic request. Think exploding coal bin where the interior’s décor is concerned and you’re on the right track. As most of our readers know, we’re highly pedantic and so we’ll leave you with this- why give us slick LED taillights but keep incandescent bulbs for the turn signals? Just sayin’.
Should I buy a Hyundai Tucson?
As far as we’re concerned, the candidacy for best-in-class honors are between the Tucson and the Mazda CX-5. While we’d give the edge to the Mazda in terms of driving satisfaction- it’s got quite a bit of MX-5 DNA- if you compare the new top-level Signature trim to the Tucson in Ultimate guise the Hyundai has the Mazda beat on price. No surprise that once again Hyundai delivers fantastic bang for the buck. If you’re looking at perennial favourites like the Honda CR-V and the all-new Toyota RAV4, you ought to take the Tucson for a drive- ultimately, you’ll come away impressed.
2019 Hyundai Tucson Ultimate AWD— Specifications
- Price as tested: $37,999
- Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger CUV
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
- Engine: 2.4-litre inline four cylinder, DOHC, 16 valves
- Horsepower: 181 @ 6,000 rpm
- Torque (lbs-ft.): 175 @ 4,000 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed automatic
- Curb weight: 1,645 kg (3,627 lbs)
- Observed Fuel consumption: 11.5L/100km (21 mpg)