2024 Hyundai Tucson Limited – Review by David Colman
A handsome, reassuring, tidy little package that could use a bit more oomph!
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Unfortunately, the previously announced sporty N Line version of Hyundai's compact SUV Tucson has yet to appear. So gas-engined Tucson buyers for 2024 are currently given five model options which range from bare bones (SE: $27,250) to mid-range (SEL: $29,400) to upper echelon (XRT: $35,410). Hyundai also offers a separate line of Hybrid powered Tucson SUVs with either 226HP or 261HP. Our test Tucson Limited represented the top of the gas-fueled line: finished in Serenity White Pearl ($450) it cost $38,295 (exclusive of preparation and delivery fees). While that may seem rather pricey for a compact SUV, Hyundai's petite family hauler has come a long way since its introduction in 2004. In fact, the fourth generation Tucson has been so meticulously refined over the last two decades that you might be justified in thinking it's actually worth twice its asking price.
The upmarket configuration and finish of the interior is what will sell you on the Limited. The supportive first and second-row seats are covered with cushy perforated leather. The driver's seat is 8-way power adjustable, and comes with 2 memory setting buttons. Hyundai furnishes all four seats with heaters. Front seat occupants get a choice of 3 heat settings as well as 3 seat ventilation options. Even the leather steering wheel receives a heating unit that toasts the entire rim, not just the hand grip areas. All of these niceties are controlled with proper buttons located on the front and back edges of the center console. The windshield and rear window wipers are perfectly easy to fine-tune thanks to an ingenious stalk that corroborates your commands via digital confirmation on the 10.5-inch digital gauge panel. On the cold and rainy week we spent driving this Hyundai, the warm and cozy Tucson Limited provided perfect refuge from the storms.
The top-line Limited does have a few ergonomic drawbacks when compared to cheaper model variants. For example, the excellent Bose stereo unit inexplicably lacks its own volume control knob - a useful feature found on less expensive Tucson variants. To modulate the sound level in the Limited, you must operate a tiny digital slider with great finesse. The driver gets to hunt for a tiny volume switch hiding on the left spoke of the leather steering wheel.
Driving dynamics of the Tucson Limited do not substantially distinguish it from lesser versions of this model since all varieties make do with the same normally aspirated 2.5 liter inline-4 cylinder engine (187hp and 178lb.-ft. of torque). Engine performance borders on crude, with unexpected surges in thrust, non-linear throttle response, and lots of irritating noise at full chat. Given that the all-wheel-drive ("Htrac")Tucson weighs a chunky 3,695 pounds, the power-to-weight ratio of this combo slumps to 19.75 pounds per horsepower. That shortfall shows up in the Tucson's 8.8 second zero-to-sixty mph run and leisurely quarter mile sprint (16.7 seconds at 85mph). The fact that Hyundai equips the Tucson with an 8-speed automatic gearbox (rather than a CVT) at least keeps the engine on full boil as it speeds through the closely ranged gear sets. Hyundai provides a pair of minuscule paddles behind the steering wheel should you wish to select a specific gear of your own choosing. However, the gain is short lived as the gearbox will only hold your choice for a couple of seconds before returning to "Drive." The shift-by-wire (SBW) gearbox control unit is located atop the center console. Its perplexing array of similar buttons proved difficult to master, and ever-so-much more complicated than any conventional stick shift.
Hyundai equips the Tucson Limited with a dazzling set of 19-inch alloy rims shod with 235/55R19 Michelin Primacy A/S radials, rated M&S for their mud and snow traction. Handling of the diminutive SUV proved predictable. I searched everywhere for a Mode control button before finally discovering it hiding on a steering wheel spoke. This unusual location also produced an unusual result. When I pressed Mode expecting to scroll through various Driving Modes, I instead triggered a long list of Infotainment options which appeared on the central digital screen. So much for selecting a sportier drive setting than the one Hyundai had chosen for me. Even without benefit of stiffer steering or prolonged gear choice retention, the Tucson still trotted along back roads at a respectable clip. It did so without the benefit of super sticky rubber, or the ego boost of tailored sport settings. That said, we eagerly look forward to the introduction of an N line Tucson.
If fine finishes, luxurious interiors, and a spacious cabin are your benchmarks for purchase, the Tucson Limited will check all your boxes, and still leave you some useful change from your nearly forty-grand investment. It's a handsome, reassuring, tidy little package that will treat your passengers like royalty, while it assuages you with obedient handling and limitless comfort. Just don't expect much in the way of sheer performance.
2024 HYUNDAI TUCSON LIMITED
• ENGINE: 2.5 liter inline-4, 16-valve, aluminum block and head, direct and port injection
• HORSEPOWER: 187hp@6100rpm
• TORQUE: 178lb.-ft.@4000rpm
• FUEL CONSUMPTION: 24MPG City/29MPG Highway
• PRICE AS TESTED: $38,295
HYPES: Super Nice Interior, All The Gadgets
GRIPES: Balky Throttle, Straight Line Lethargy
STAR RATING: 8.5 Stars out of 10
©2023 David E Colman
REVIEW BY DAVID E COLMAN
Dad jumpstarted my automotive career by taking me to the Indy 500 ten years in a row. During that decade he generously bought me a trio of new cars to drive: a C1 Corvette followed by two XKE roadsters. By 1970, I purchased my first new Porsche, a 911S Targa. The Porsche immersion has continued with a succession of newer models: 1970 914-6GT, 1983 944, 1987 944T, 2003 911 Turbo X50 Aerokit, 2011 911 GT3 RS and 2016 Cayman GT4. This "buy your own press fleet" exposure helped launch my literary career when I co-founded Excellence Magazine in 1987. I have written hundreds of reviews and profiles for Excellence over the past three decades.
I also covered motorsports for The Wheel, SCCA's San Francisco Region newspaper, as well as racing events for the Marin Independent Journal. Other outlets over the years have been The San Francisco Chronicle, Autoweek, Bimmer, Forza and Sports Car International. I started a weekly new car review in 1986 at the Marin IJ and subsequently continued it with the San Francisco Examiner. I am currently a Senior Writer for Vintage Motorsports magazine, and have written numerous race reports and feature articles for that publication.
My weekly reviews first hit the internet at CarReview.com and play today only on TheAutoChannel.com. I was a co-founder of the Western Automotive Journalists (WAJ), a press group formed to track-test vehicles at local road racing circuits. Since 1986, I have driven and evaluated a manufacturer-provided new vehicle just about every week of every year.
I have also been a long time competitor in Porsche Club and SCCA track and autocross events. I was sponsored by BF Goodrich tires for a number of years, and later by Yokohama Tires. My record book at the SCCA's annual Solo 2 National Championship event shows ten consecutive years of entries and trophy successes in a variety of classes. I also earned Top Time of Day at the Porsche Club of America's annual Parade Driving Event in my one owner 914-6GT.
I learned to write proper English in Sidney Eaton's English class at the Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, Massachusetts. Later, I majored in American Literature at Middlebury College (AB) and subsequently earned two Master of Art Degrees from the University of California: English (UC Santa Barbara); History of Art (UC Berkeley). So I'm a pump jockey and a word jockey.