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2016 Hyundai Tucson Review by Thom Cannell +VIDEO


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2016 Hyundai Tucson a better compact CUV...Success in an embattled segment

By Thom Cannell
Senior Editor
Michigan Bureau
The Auto Channel


The 2016 Tucson hits all the right notes, style, interior space, exterior style, and at its price point continues to offer what Hyundai is known for, abundant value.


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The small crossover segment has a roster full of established players from Honda, Ford, Nissan, Mazda, Toyota, and Jeep. Hyundai’s Tucson has contested these rivals, though supply constraints prevented a good body check to the opposing teams. That’s been solved, the 2016 Tucson is ready for a faceoff on the ice, or in the sunbelt.


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In this segment, value is delivered most often to singles and couples seeking a combination of interior space, comfort, fuel economy, power, and advanced technology, not necessarily in that order. Of course there’s no getting around inevitable comparisons the Peewee CUV league’s 1000 pound enforcer, Honda’s CR-V. It’s the benchmark we kept in mind throughout a day’s testing of the all-new 2016 Tucson. Initial impressions say the new Tucson is a stunningly quiet vehicle, one that feels as sturdy as we’d like the Federal Reserve to be, only delightfully more mobile.
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Moreover, Tucson is filled with pleasing features beyond its entry price point of $22,700 ($23,595 including delivery) while maintaining Hyundai’s impressive 10 year powertrain, 5 year/50,000 mile everything else warranty. At most price points in the four trim levels—SE, Eco, Sport, and Limited—Hyundai says it provides $700—$3500 in standard features compared to its competitors. For Eco models and above these include things like a standard 7-speed DCT (dual clutch automatic transmission), heated front seats, most of the safety features we mention in a moment, even fully automatic headlight control and proximity keys for entry. For the Limited, which has LED low beams, competitors don’t have them. Even the most basic Tucson SE with its 2.0-liter direct injected engine lets you select a drive mode, has individual tire pressure monitoring, satellite radio, and alloy wheels.


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Although the small CUV segment buyer is primarily pre-kid—#1 is often when you’d buy the larger SantaFe—safety remains a significant concern. Hyundai’s first passive safety response is with a massively strong safety cage made primarily (51%) of advanced high strength steels that are bonded together with both welding and aircraft grade structural adhesives. This method of joining pieces creates strength and structure similar to a race car’s roll cage, and in case of a crash, moves the energy into non-passenger areas. Of course there are seat belts and air bags in abundance, and a goodly crop of technological safety features.


Probably the most useful, and powerful, is Tucson’s ability to scratch to a tire-smoking stop should you forget to brake for a car in front, or a clueless pedestrian. Using both radar and cameras, Tucson scans a wide area ahead to do its best to prevent you from colliding with anything from deer, to people, to your neighbor’s new truck. At the rear, similar radar sensors deliver parking detection and will warn you of traffic behind you. This feature is simply wonderful when backing out of a mall parking slot, even out of some suburban garages (hello, San Francisco!).


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On the road, like many, the 2016 Tucson will detect vehicles in your blind spot, and those approaching you that you might not catch when changing lanes. The system looks 230’ behind you. Another feature that’s available is lane departure warning, which does as it suggests, beeping loudly if you stray into another lane without your turn signal on. While potentially useful, particularly for new or demonstrably inattentive drivers, we left it off with no ill effects.


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In this Bantam league bigger is not better. There are other vehicles for that need. So Hyundai’s new Tucson is actually shorter than CR-V or Escape, but wider and with a longer wheelbase which creates more hip room and a more comfortable ride than its predecessor. There’s also a large rear cargo area, its 31 cubic feet exceeds that of Porsche Cayenne or BMW’s X5 which are much larger vehicles.

About now you’re wondering how it might feel to own this small CUV? Pretty darn good. We’ve mentioned how quiet it is, and that was one of the more lasting impressions. Tucson is luxury car quiet, with an exception we’ll get to. The powertrain, the 2.0-liter direct injected motor or the 1.6-liter turbocharged DI engine that appears in a majority, is surely adequate for power; Tucson is no sports sedan. There’s even passing power on two lane roads, and we tested that. With the DCT, or dual clutch automated manual gearbox, gears dropped in flawlessly and you could select gears yourself.


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Seating comfort was excellent and the powered seats proved adaptable for drivers from 5’7” to 6’5’, with more to spare. The cabin layout is meant to be both simple and wide and uncluttered, which it is. In Black the interior features soft touch points on surfaces you would normally put hands on, firmer engineered polymers other places you’d kick or knee. Tucson also gives buyers a hefty leather wrapped steering wheel. The other interior colors, Gray and Beige, well, they’re quite bland in a market that wants million dollar luxury at Bagger Dave’s prices. And, as black, white, silver, and gray are the most popular exterior paint colors, they’re available. For color pizzaz look to Caribbean Blue, Sedona Sunset, or Ruby Wine, we did!


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Other than SE, the 2016 Tucson is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged, direct-injected engine. It makes good power, a few more or a few less than competitors. Fuel economy is also among the best in class. Face it, if you’re looking for a small CUV to produce sports sedan acceleration you’ll have to mix your own, and that goes for the BMW X1 and other upscale competitors. However, you can expect a willing chassis that make driving a pleasure, and this Hyundai delivers with fully independent suspension and that extremely rigid body.

In developing the ride, Hyundai engineers used weight saving measures like hollow stabilizer bars—they’re also better—and tweaked the Sachs shock absorbers (dampers if you’re an engineer), made the jounce bumper hydraulic to prevent abrupt chassis dampening, and improved the rear suspension geometry. It drives and rides both precisely and comfortably, one of those vehicles that just wants to roll forward like skating on clean ice.

The quiet interior is the result of, again, the rigid chassis, and strategically placed noise absorption materials. Where the body itself might generate noise they’ve stiffened those areas. Hyundai says wind noise, road noise, and idle noise are better than its chief rivals, RAV4, CR-V, and Escape.


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If you’re in Northern states, Hyundai’s all wheel drive system is made by Magna, similar to the one used by exotic import brands. It offers torque vectoring, which makes this CUV stable on slick surfaces, driving power to the wheels that have grip. Torque vectoring also helps you in ordinary situations by slightly applying the brake to an inside wheel in a turn, improving lateral stability and decreasing both understeer and oversteer. You can also lock the AWD for a 50/50 split when the ice is snow covered and nasty.

We tried this system in a rain storm and on muddy, gravel-strewn dirt roads. The system worked flawlessly, but the standard tires did not, we thought, deliver anything near the grip the chassis deserved and they were overly noisy on some pavement types.


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There’s a whole bunch of features you’d likely enjoy, like drive modes (Eco, Normal, Sport) that can deliver more economy or more enjoyable driving as a button push changes the torque map, upshift points, and downshift point. Mileage or fun, your choice.

Tucson offers either LED headlamps or HID (high intensity discharge) headlamps, the later with steerable beams. Ally wheels, door handle puddle lamps, LED daylight running lights, LED tail lamps, they’re all there. What you might not expect is the available full length panoramic sunroof that stretches back to the second row, handsfree smart lift gate, or a novel dual level rear floor that can be lowered 2” for tall goods transport.


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You also might hope for heated front and rear seats, ventilated front seats, adjustable rear seats that recline, or power (10/8 way) driver and passenger seats. They’re available, as is a standard rear view color touch screen with rear view camera or the 8” touch screen nav system.

At the end of our test we were impressed by the rear cargo deck’s low lift-in height, solid European and well damped ride that offered good road feedback. We were absolutely blown away by how quiet it was, and how it just wanted to roll forward at above-speed limit rates—we needed the cruise control!


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We were also impressed by the interior fit and finish, the materials were high quality and fit together tightly. As to styling, which we’ve not mentioned, it is clearly a Hyundai with the hexagonal grill and headlamps that are contemporarily cut-in without appearing squinty. The rear, with chrome-tipped rectangular passenger side exhaust and the roof spoiler reminds a bit of BMW X3. Side views are clean and tidy, less exotically flame sculpted than previous generation cars, and we like the forward poised wheel well arches.

The 2016 Tucson hits all the right notes, style, interior space, exterior style, and at its price point continues to offer what Hyundai is known for, abundant value.




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