Hyundai’s refreshed Tucson SUV fills family all-rounder bill
IT'S almost an unwritten rule that as soon as you start breeding you must own a mid-size SUV. The Hyundai Tucson has been one of the biggest sellers in its segment since it arrived in 2015 and with a midlife refresh it's more accomplished than ever.
We test the well-equipped Elite grade with all-wheel drive and diesel engine to see how it handles family duties.
IAIN: I'm calling it early. If I loved SUVs, the new Hyundai Tucson would be close to our ideal family car.
JULES: But you don't love SUVs …
IAIN: I understand them but I'm convinced a family wagon is better to drive and an all-round better buy.
JULES: We girls like to sit up higher and we choose the family car, so SUVs are king. Get used to it, chaps.
IAIN: Righto. The Tucson's been given a midlife facelift after a triumphant three years on sale. New front and rear end, softer-touch and better spec cabin, more safety kit and tweaks to the suspension and steering.
JULES: Aesthetically it's a treat. I like the bold chrome grille, the huge pointy headlights and the intricate alloy wheel design.
IAIN: Good size for our family of four, and ours is the Elite grade - one down from the range-topping Highlander - so it's got key luxury kit without such flagship fripperies as heated steering wheel and panoramic sunroof.
JULES: It's a true all-rounder, too. With all-wheel drive, full-size spare and a diesel, it's good for road trip family holidays. How much is it?
IAIN: Not cheap - $43,150 before charges - but you could get the same Elite grade for $5000 less if you option 2WD and petrol engine.
THE LIVING SPACE
JULES: I'm impressed. Hyundai interiors may not be cutting edge but the Tucson Elite has a premium air to it.
IAIN: The previous Tucson was dragged down with lots of hard plastics but Hyundai's upped its game. The leather appointed seats are quite firm but feel quality and the curvy dash and door tops are nicely soft-touch.
JULES: It's only the middle of the steering wheel that feels a little cheap.
IAIN: I normally prefer a touchscreen set flush in the dash but the Hyundai's is perched on the dash. It's an eight-inch job, a good size. Functionality is superb and the same goes for the heater controls below it.
JULES: It has Apple CarPlay to mirror my phone, which is now a non-negotiable for me, but the touchscreen and volume controls are a bit far away to operate easily unless you have long arms.
IAIN: The Elite has just the inclusions we're after - dual-zone climate control, satnav, cooled glovebox, electric driver's seat and a smart key with push-button start.
JULES: It's a nice cruiser, the turbo diesel makes for brilliant acceleration - but it sounds a bit diesel-y.
IAIN: I think it's really quiet, smooth and you'd barely know it wasn't petrol-powered. You grew up in 1980s France - you'd be well accustomed to smoke-spewing Renault and Citroen vans that sound more diesel-y than a Mack road train with a hole in its exhaust.
JULES: OK, the Hyundai isn't that bad but I'd still save money and buy the petrol Tucson.
IAIN: The diesel delivers decent fuel economy. Hyundai quotes 6.4L/100km and we managed an impressive 7.5L. The radar cruise control is excellent for dull highway drives.
JULES: Plenty of room for the weekly shop but the Elite misses out on helpful things like a smart tailgate, front parking sensors and 360-degree camera.
IAIN: They're not deal-breakers but you're right, some rivals do have these.
JULES: With all-wheel drive and a boot big enough for camping gear, I'd favour an unsealed road country adventure over twisty backroads.
IAIN: Agreed. That said, the new suspension tune on the Tucson means it's accomplished in tighter turns, the tyres give decent grip and it hides its SUV-ness well. It has a Sport mode but it doesn't do much. Paddle-shifters on the steering wheel would have been useful.
JULES: The Elite has the safety kit I want as an over-protective mum of two. It has warnings for blind spot, forward and rear cross traffic collision and driver attention, plus lane keeping assist.
IAIN: The audio is a crowd pleaser and the kids have a USB port in the back. A cool function is the Tucson's Auto Link.
JULES: The thing you have on your phone?
IAIN: Yep, the car sends information to an app via Bluetooth. It shows driving statistics, where I've parked it and even how eco my driving's been compared to other Tucson owners.
JULES: Proper nerd stuff. The kids love it.
IAIN: Sharp looks, quality cabin, good safety and decent to drive - in Elite grade, the Tucson's a bit of a winner. The five-year warranty helps, too. But I'd save money and go the petrol 2WD version.
JULES: Agreed. I'd insist on Elite grade as it has all the active safety kit as standard, plus the goodies and leather-trimmed cabin that make it tolerable being a busy SUV-driving mum.
HYUNDAI TUCSON ELITE 2.0 CRDI AWD
PRICE $43,150 plus on-roads
WARRANTY/SERVICING 5 years/unlimited km, $2045 for 5 years/75,000km
ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel, 136kW/400Nm
SAFETY 5 stars, 6 airbags, AEB, reversing camera, lane keeping, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, radar cruise control