The new 2015 Hyundai Tucson is a slightly larger replacement for the now-superseded and much loved ix35 crossover.
The Tucson name itself isn’t new, having adorned the rump of the first generation small SUV from the Korean brand from 2004 to 2010; before being replaced by the Euro-sourced ix35. In keeping with Hyundai’s current naming convention, global models are known by names, while European bound models by alpha-numerics.
Despite sharing its name with an American city, Australian-delivered Tucsons are made in Hyundai’s factory in the Czech Republic.
Available in four variants – Active, ActiveX, Elite and Highlander – the Tucson has much in its favour even before turning a wheel. Its five-year, unlimited kilometer warranty eclipses most manufacturers bar Kia (with 7 years/unlimited kilometer) and Citroen (6 years/unlimited kilometer), while its handsome styling will no doubt pull crowds into the brand’s showrooms.
Priced from $27,990 for the entry-level 2WD Active, Hyundai’s latest mid-size SUV tops out with the $45,490 turbo-diesel AWD Highlander.
Design and Comfort
Longer and wider than the ix35, the all-new Tucson is now considered a ‘Medium SUV’ by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industry’s (FCAI’s) vehicle classification.
It sits on a 30mm longer wheelbase compared to its predecessor and is 65mm shorter than a Mazda CX-5, yet has 85 litres more boot space (488 litres) with the rear seats in place – while carrying a full sized spare wheel.
Styled by Hyundai’s European Design Centre in Russelsheim, Germany under the watchful eye of automotive design royalty, Peter Schreyer (who is now Hyundai Motor Group’s President and Chief Design Officer), the Tucson gets the latest iteration of Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design philosophy.
It blends bold proportions with strong character lines to create an athletic and sporty stance. At the back, there’s a hint of Jeep Cherokee in its rump as well. Wheel sizes range from 17-inch in the Active to stylish 19-inch on the Highlander.
It’s a different story inside the cabin. The interior is hardly inspirational to look at, lacking the design flare exhibited by the exterior. The hard plastics on the dashboard is also a let down, especially in the $45,490 Highlander.
What the Tucson has is an abundance of storage space, plenty of room, comfortable seating for five and a large load bay. There are also bag hooks in the boot to keep the shopping in place.
Performance and Handling
The 2015 Tucson is offered with a choice of four engines, three transmissions and two drivetrain layouts.
The two-wheel-drive Active and Elite models are equipped with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder multi-point injection engine generating 114kW at 6,200rpm and 192Nm at 4,000rpm. It is mated with either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission driving the front wheels.
The Active X we sampled is motivated by Hyundai’s 2.0-litre direct-injected four-cylinder petrol paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. It produces 121kW at 6,200rpm and 203Nm of torque at 4,700rpm, which is only just adequate as long as you are not in a hurry or carrying a full load.
Demand more and you’ll have to pile on more revs like a hungry teenager gulping down a cheese burger, resulting in intrusive engine noise.
The Elite and Highlander AWD can be had with the 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder direct injected petrol engine shared with the Veloster SR Turbo. It delivers 130kW at 5,500rpm and 265Nm of torque @ 1,500-4,500rpm and is matched with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission.
We also spent time with the range-topping AWD Highlander, which is propelled by a 2.0-litre common rail direct injection four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine putting out 136kW at 4,000rpm and 400Nm at 1,750-2,750rpm. Power delivery is linear for a diesel, with minimal turbo lag and a strong mid range.
The six-speed automatic is also more than willing to tap into the lower rev range at first chance to harvest the abundance of torque down low, keeping fuel consumption low.
Out on the road, the Tucson tackles both city and country roads with ease, rarely troubling the driver and passengers. It rides well and has good body control, although minor body roll is evident on tighter corners.
While its steering is well-weighted and precise, there is little in the way of feedback through the wheel.
The six-speed automatic gearbox is pleasingly smooth and changes gear relatively quickly, but the lack of steering wheel-mounted paddles, even in the range topping Highlander, is a disappointment.
As with Hyundai’s latest generation of products, the Tucson is well built, with good fit and finish. There are no squeaks or rattles in our admittedly new test car with just 1,500km on the clock.
All doors open and shut with a satisfying ‘thunk’.
On test, the 2.0-litre GDI petrol engine returned an average of 9.1L/100 – a disappointing 1.2 litre more than the official claim.
The 2.0 R-Series CRDi in the Highland meanwhile, returned an average of 8.3L/100km against the claimed 6.8L/100km – an even worse 1.5 litre adrift of its maker’s claim.
Equipment and Features
The all-new Tucson is generously equipped. The ActiveX comes with 18” alloy wheels shod with 225/55R 18 tyres, 6 airbags, electronic stability control (ESC), rear view camera with dynamic guidelines, rear parking sensors, LED daytime running lights, automatic headlights, front fog lights, leather appointed seats, electric folding/heated mirrors, cruise control and roof rails.
There’s also a 7” touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (early 2016).
The Highlander adds 19-inch alloy wheels with 245/45 R19 Continental ContiSportContact 5 tyres, front parking sensors, tyre pressure monitoring system, LED taillights, panoramic sunroof, blind spot detection incorporating lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping assist with lane departure warning and a 4.2-inch TFT LCD colour display in the instruments.
It’s a shame that the above advanced safety features are only available on the range topping Highlander and no even offered as an option on cheaper variants. The sound system is another area needing some serious rework, as even in the Highlander, it is mediocre.
While keen drivers will find the entry-level Tucson’s engine and steering’s lack of verve a disappointment, most of the car’s target buyers will find pleasure in the way the Tucson goes about its business smoothly and comfortably.
Not surprisingly, our picks are the all-wheel-drive, turbocharged petrol and diesel pair for their enhanced performance and drivability.
|Price (Excl. on-road costs)||From $27,990 to $45,490|
|Warranty:||5 years/unlimited kilometer|
|Service intervals:||12 months/15,000km|
|Engine:||2.0-litre four-cylinder multi-point injection petrol: 114kW @ 6,200rpm, 192Nm @ 4,000rpm, front-wheel drive|
|2.0-litre four-cylinder direct-injection petrol: 121kW @ 6,200rpm, 203Nm @ 4,700rpm, front-wheel drive (Tested)|
|1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder direct-injection petrol: 130kW @ 5,500rpm, 265Nm @ 1,500-4,500rpm, all-wheel drive|
|2.0-litre common rail direct injection four-cylinder turbo-diesel: 136kW @ 4,000rpm, 400Nm @ 1,750-2,750rpm, all-wheel drive (Tested)|
|Transmission:||6-speed manual/6-speed automatic/7-speed Dual Clutch|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):||2.0 GDi (auto) – Claimed: 7.9/Tested: 9.1|
|1.6T GDi (auto) – Claimed: 7.7|
|2.0 CRDi (auto) – Claimed: 6.8/Tested: 8.3|
|Body:||5-door SUV, 5-seats|
|Dimensions: L/W/H/W-B (mm):||4,475/1,850/1,660/2,670|
|Kerb Weight (kg):||Active: 1,556 – 1,572|
|Elite: 1,556 – 1,744|
|Highlander: 1,690 – 1,744|
|Towing Capacity (kg):||Braked: 1,600/Unbraked: 750|
2015 Hyundai Tucson Highlander
2015 Hyundai Tucson ActiveX