£18,695 - £30,845 Price range
38 - 62 MPG
The Hyundai Tucson is a mature alternative to the boldly styled Kia Sportage – after all, the Hyundai’s looks are far less polarising than Kia’s and it’s also a more relaxing car to drive. It’s a good all-rounder surrounded by equally capable rivals such as the Renault Kadjar, Seat Ateca and Nissan Qashqai.
The Tucson looks smart and remains a practical choice for families with plenty of legroom for anyone sitting in the back, although you’ll have to buy a Santa Fe is you want a Hyundai with seven seats. Its interior feels built to a high standard, and the highest-spec Tucsons even get ventilated front seats to stop your backside sticking to the comfy leather seats on hot summer days.
In terms of drivetrain, there’s plenty to choose from with petrol and diesel engines, two- or four-wheel drive, automatic or manual gearboxes. Even though the 1.7-litre diesel will inevitably be the best seller, it does feel a bit strained under acceleration. On the other hand it’s frugal and clean, so running costs are low.
With a clear focus on comfort the Tucson doesn’t exactly flow from corner to corner, but that’s what sports cars are for. Driven normally, it’s a decent motorway companion with a silent cabin and a relaxed ride that only becomes uncomfortable if you go for the largest 19-inch wheels.
Even the most basic models come equipped with DAB digital radio, a Bluetooth phone connection, alloy wheels and air conditioning. Higher trim levels add luxurious touches such as heated seats and automatic emergency braking, but also make the Hyundai quite pricey.
If the Tucson’s striking looks win you over, you might be slightly disappointed by its interior. It takes a strictly no-frills approach, with more of a focus on build quality than stylish flair. It’s all functional and feels well built, but dig down and some materials feel cheaper than those in a Qashqai.
The Tucson isn’t available with optional extras – the standard equipment lists are so generous Hyundai says there doesn’t need to be. However, that also means if you want a touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav you need to pay £2,650 and move up to the SE Nav model. That also gives you extra kit such as dual-zone climate control and rear parking sensors, but a similar upgrade on a Renault Kadjar costs £1,700.
The sat-nav itself is easy to use and has sharp graphics. Entering a postcode using the on-screen keyboard is quick, though not super easy to do when moving, and the live traffic updates should keep you ahead of congestion.
Hyundai Tucson interior space
There’s plenty of adjustment for the driver’s seat and steering wheel, so it’s simple to get a comfortable driving position in the Tucson. The car’s tall body means there’s plenty of headroom front and rear and there’s elbow room for two (three at a push) six-footers on the back seat, and legroom is plentiful.
Opt for one of the pricier top-spec models and you get soft leather seats that really enhance the overall feel of the cabin and bring the car’s interior into competition with more expensive rivals, such as the Audi Q3.
Hyundai Tucson boot space
Boot space is also impressive next to rivals, with the Tucson’s 513-litre capacity beating the Nissan Qashqai (430 litres) and the Renault Kadjar (472 litres). Folding the rear seats is a bit of a faff and they can snag on the seat belts, but, when folded, they reveal an impressive total capacity of 1,503 litres and you can store the parcel shelf under the false floor. Boot space drops slightly if you choose to specify the Tucson with four-wheel drive, but only marginally.
The Hyundai Tucson shares a lot of mechanicals with the Kia Sportage, but they differ in how their suspension is set-up. Whereas the Kia has a firm and sporty ride a la Audi, the Tucson takes a more comfortable approach making it the better motorway cruiser, although it’s still not up to the standards of the Nissan Qashqai. If you value ride comfort highly, stay away from the top-spec 19-inch wheels because they do an amazing job of transferring even the smallest bump to your seat. Mid-range models get Hyundai’s Drive Mode Select which can alter the steering wheel weighting and sharpen the engine’s response.
If you often have to back your car into tight parking spaces then it’s worth noting that the visibility out the back window of the Tucson is poor, although mid-range models get rear parking sensors.
What annoys on the motorway, though, is the overly light steering which requires many small corrections to keep the car going straight. That is remedied if you go for the mid-range SE model with its lane-keep assist which gently steers for you as long as you keep your hands on the wheel.
Basic models are front-wheel drive only, but there is optional four-wheel drive on most engines giving you peace of mind on slippery roads. That said the 4×4 upgrade doesn’t magically endow the Tucson with Land Rover levels of off-road ability – in reality a two-wheel drive model with good quality winter tyres will be as much use to most people.
Most of the engine range is diesel-powered, but that’s in tune with the car’s focus on long distances where they make the most financial sense. There is also one petrol offering that’s perfect for short urban trips, but there’s no sign we’ll get it’s more accomplished turbocharged version that’s available for the EU market.
Hyundai Tucson petrol engines
The cheapest way into Tucson ownership is the 113hp 1.6-litre petrol. It’s a bit on the slow side with a 0-62mph time of 11.5 seconds, but long gearing means it’s not working too hard at the national speed limit. However, without a turbocharger’s torque boost to help with in-gear acceleration you’ll struggle to accelerate quickly for motorway lane changes. The resulting full throttle manoeuvre also means you’d rarely touch the official fuel consumption of 44mpg.
Hyundai Tucson diesel engines
Diesels come in 1.7-litre form with either 113 or 141hp, or buyers can choose from two 2.0-litre diesels with either 134 or 182hp. Claimed combined fuel economy for the low-powered 2.0-litre diesel is 54.3mpg, but during a week with the Tucson we didn’t get near that driving in London traffic. Out on the motorways, we averaged 38mpg, still a long way from the claimed figures and leagues behind the more efficient engines in the Nissan Qashqai.
The 1.7-litre should be a lot more frugal with claimed fuel economy of 61.7mpg, and CO2 emissions of 119g/km mean road tax is £30 a year. That doesn’t compare brilliantly to the most economical Nissan Qashqai that can return more than 70mpg and is free to tax.
Hyundai Tucson automatic gearbox
Although the 2.0-litre’s auto gearbox certainly makes town driving a piece of cake, it will often hold onto gears at high revs far longer than necessary, resulting in poor fuel economy. Opt for the 1.7-litre model and it’s automatic is Hyundai’s new dual-clutch gearbox which should resolve most of those issues.
High-end models will also be available with a blind-spot-warning system, headlights that follow the car’s steering and an automatic emergency braking system. You can also specify a lane assist system that will gently steer the car to stay in its lane on a motorway – it works well and is less intrusive than competitors’ systems.
The highlight is a new sat-nav system said to be three times faster than the outgoing one, but autonomous braking, ventilated and heated seats, park assist and more also demonstrate.
The Tucson isn’t the bargain it used to be, but there’s plenty of standard kit and it also comes with a five-year/100,000 warranty that leads the class.
Hyundai Tucson S
Basic S trim comes with almost everything you really need, such as alloy wheels, six airbags, air-conditioning, auto lights, bluetooth phone connection, a multi-function steering wheel, hill-start assist and downhill brake control, which makes it easy to traverse steep inclines.
Hyundai Tucson SE Nav
The SE Nav trim level comes with climate control, electric driver’s seat adjustment, rear parking sensors, and leather wrapped steering wheel over the S model’s standard equipment. It may not be as luxurious as the Premium and Premium SE trim levels, but it costs around £5,000 less.
Hyundai Tucson Premium SE
Premium SE has an almost endless kit list – LED headlights, park assist, electric tailgate, a panoramic roof, autonomous braking, plus a full leather interior, heated rear seats, heated and vented front seats and sat-nav. However, prices are dangerously near to a similarly equipped Audi Q3, so you’re better off with the SE Nav.
The Tucson looks upmarket, drives well and comes with generous equipment levels. Its most obvious rival is the Kia Sportage, but its more ‘adventurous’ styling is likely to send conservative buyers to Hyundai’s door. That shouldn’t be the only reason to buy the Tucson, though, it’s a comfortable car to travel in, has loads of space and even goes well. People looking for excitement, or a descent auto gearbox, will probably look elsewhere, but everyone else is very well catered for.