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Hyundai Tucson Review

Introduction

The Hyundai Tucson made its name as a competent family SUV that majored on reliability and solidity. It was never exciting, but it didn’t need to be. It would slot straight into your life without fuss, providing dependable family transport and a practical load-lugger. It was so successful it became one of the UK and Ireland’s most popular models.

Now, the Tucson has been updated with a stylish and futuristic new look, a selection of more efficient engines and a vastly improved cabin. It made waves when it was revealed, and Hyundai is hoping the new model won't just emulate the success of its predecessor, but build on it.

Review Sections

  • At a Glance
  • Key Features
  • Performance & Drive
  • Running Costs & Emissions
  • Interior & Technology
  • Practicality & Boot Space
  • Safety
  • Options
  • Rival Cars
  • Verdict & Next Steps
  • Select's rating score* - 3.9 / 5

    At a Glance

    The new Tucson looks very different to its predecessor, but the basic recipe has only been tweaked. This remains a reliable and practical family SUV. But it now feels more upmarket, with better cabin materials and a much more modern, high-tech design.

    On the outside, the brave new grille and hidden headlights are the most prominent features, but Hyundai has also modernised the rear of the car. Inside, there’s a more futuristic design backed up by high-quality plastics and a range of digital displays that really bring the car up to date. In fact, it’s now one of the best cabins of any mainstream model in the class, bettering the new Nissan Qashqai and the Ford Kuga.

    On the road, comfort is the name of the game, with an excellent high-speed ride that makes it feel soft and relaxing on the motorway. Add in some very efficient engine options and you’ve got a car with plenty going for it. It will never be the last word in excitement, but the Tucson will be the perfect car for those who prioritise dependability, comfort and technology.

    Key Features

    You can’t talk about the new Tucson without mentioning those lights. They’re hidden in the grille, and they only become obvious when they’re illuminated, which gives the car a really cool, modern ‘face’. It’s a bit Dr Who, but it works really well and it makes the Tucson much more interesting to look at than its predecessor.


    You also have to mention the new-look cabin, which is so far ahead of the old Tucson it’s hard to believe it came from the same company. Chief among the updates is the new 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which is standard across the range. It’s a much better looking system, and although it isn’t perfect, it’s one of the best you can lease.

    The Tucson also comes with Hyundai’s Bluelink connected car technology as standard. Through your smartphone, you can pre-program the satellite navigation, check your fuel status and even see whether the car is locked. You can also find out where you parked, and the navigation system will guide you to your final destination after you have exited the vehicle.

    Performance & Drive

    The Tucson gives you a choice of powertrains, but all are based around a 1.6-litre petrol engine. You can choose whether you have that engine in 150hp guise, with a six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive, or with some form of hybrid power.

    If you like, you can have the mild-hybrid system that still gives you 150hp but offers slightly more economy and the option of a seven-speed automatic transmission, or you can have a more powerful version. The 180hp mild-hybrid gives you an automatic gearbox as standard, and it sends the power to all four wheels for a little extra off-road capability. Alternatively, you can choose the ‘self-charging’ hybrid with 230hp and a six-speed automatic gearbox, or opt for the plug-in hybrid with 265hp and four-wheel drive.

    All those options are fairly punchy, with respectable 0-62mph times all round. The 150hp engines manage that feat in around 10 seconds, while the more powerful hybrids cut that down to about eight seconds. No version is especially fast, but they’re all more than quick enough for day-to-day motoring.

    And that’s quite a good metaphor for the way the Tucson drives. It’s one of those cars that will never set your world on fire, but it goes about its business competently and with the minimum fuss.


    Light steering and soft suspension epitomise the experience. Both are great for long journeys or pottering around town, but less impressive on a fast country road. Throw the Hyundai into a corner and you get little feel for what the front wheels are doing, heaps of body roll and a heave as the weight shifts. It’s no sports car.

    But that’s fine, because nobody will lease a Tucson to drive like Lewis Hamilton. That’s what the BMWs and Porsches of this world are built for. Instead, it’s the ideal family car for long motorway drives. At high speeds, the suspension feels very supple, stopping the occupants from feeling any dodgy road surfaces. It’s no Rolls-Royce, but compared with its rivals, the Tucson is very good.

    The suspension is a little less accomplished at lower speeds, where the odd pothole can make its presence felt in the cabin, but that’s only an issue over the harshest bumps. By and large, it does a good job of ironing out imperfections in the road.

    If you get an all-wheel-drive Tucson, you’ll find it relatively capable off-road, too. There’s enough ground clearance to make farm tracks passable and the four-wheel drive system means there’s more traction on slippery or rocky surfaces. That said, if you want a proper off-roader, the likes of Land Rover, Jeep and Mitsubishi will offer you something more capable.

    Running Costs & Emissions

    Despite failing to offer a single diesel engine, the Tucson is surprisingly efficient. The conventional ‘self-charging’ hybrid makes a good alternative to diesel power, managing around 50mpg on the official economy test. And we can confirm it will have no trouble achieving that sort of figure on long journeys in the real world.

    The petrol and mild-hybrid options are less economical, returning something in the low-40s. If truth be told, the mild-hybrids probably aren’t worth selecting unless you’re desperate to keep carbon dioxide emissions to a minimum.

    In which case, you’re going to choose the plug-in hybrid. That car will do 31 miles on electrical power alone, and if you keep your journeys short and charge regularly, it might return three-figure fuel economy. More importantly, its low emissions mean company car tax is incredibly low. With N Line versions pumping out just 31g of carbon dioxide per kilometre, they slot into the 11% company car tax bracket.

    Interior & Technology

    If you’re looking for one key way in which the new Tucson beats its predecessor, you’ll find it in the cabin. The new car is a dramatic improvement, with much classier materials and improved build quality. Everything you touch feels sturdy and smart, which makes the car feel like a more premium product. It has brought Hyundai much closer to the likes of Volkswagen in terms of quality.


    The technology housed in that dashboard is arguably even better. The digital instrument cluster is brilliant, with crystal clear displays and the ability to show you exactly what you want to see. It’s up there with the best on the market. Then there’s the touchscreen infotainment system, which is leagues ahead of the old Tucson. Where once there was a slightly blocky but completely functional display, the new car now gets something classy and crisp.

    Touchscreens are difficult to get right, with the need for clarity and style, as well as intuitive menus and an easy-to-grasp control system. Hyundai hasn’t quite got that right – the menus aren’t perfect and some of the buttons are a little too small to use on the move – but it’s better than many. The existing VW set-up is nowhere near as good as it once was, so Hyundai and Kia have really gained ground. This current system is among the best.

    Practicality & Boot Space

    When it comes to family cars, practicality is king. It doesn’t matter how sporty or high-tech it might be; if it can’t carry you, your family and all their stuff, it’s no good. Fortunately, the Tucson delivers on the space front.

    Inside, there’s more than enough room to carry four adults in comfort, with ample headroom for even tall passengers. Fitting a third rear-seat passenger is tricky, but it’s possible on a shorter journey. Better still, you get plenty of cubby holes and storage spaces in which to stow the usual detritus – sunglasses, water bottles, etc.


    And then there’s the boot. If you choose a basic petrol version, you get a massive 620-litre load bay, but that figure falls to 616 litres if you pick the hybrid and 577 litres if you pick the mild-hybrid. Opt for the plug-in hybrid and you only get 558 litres. But although that sounds small, remember everything is relative. Even at 558 litres, the Tucson has more luggage space than a Nissan Qashqai or a Mazda CX-5.

    Safety

    Euro NCAP has not yet crash tested the latest-generation Tucson, but it seems likely the new model will be incredibly safe. Its predecessor achieved a five-star rating in 2015, and the newcomer has far more safety equipment.

    Features on offer include automatic emergency braking that hits the brakes for you if you fail to respond to a hazard, and lane-keeping assistance. You can also get ‘smart’ cruise control that uses navigation data to slow for junctions or sharp corners. The cruise control can also maintain a safe distance to the car in front.

    Other safety gadgets include a “semi-autonomous” driving assistance feature that combines the cruise control and lane-keeping assistance to keep the car in its lane and at a safe distance from other vehicles while driving on the motorway. The system can’t change lanes or follow the navigation system, but it is designed to reduce driver workload or act as a safety net on long journeys.

    Options

    The Tucson range comprises five basic trim levels. All are better equipped than you might expect, and the range-topping models are incredibly luxurious. With leather this and ventilated that, they really do rival the Volkswagens and Volvos of this world.

    Anyway, at the opposite end of the scale is the entry-level SE Connect model, which comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, a 10.25-inch touchscreen and a digital instrument cluster. You also get the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration systems, not to mention the rear parking sensors, reversing camera and two-zone climate control. Basically, it has everything you need.


    If you want more, you have a choice of two different paths. The first option is to go down the sporty route and choose the N Line with its 19-inch alloy wheels, sportier bodywork and part-leather, part-suede upholstery. You also get keyless ignition, wireless phone charging and heated front seats.

    From there, you can opt for the better-equipped N Line S, which gets you more safety kit, a Krell premium audio system and a heated steering wheel. You also get a panoramic glass roof, an electrically operated tailgate and three-zone climate control so rear-seat passengers can choose a temperature that suits them.

    Alternatively, if you go down the luxury route, you come to the Premium model. That car builds on SE Connect specification with 18- or 19-inch alloy wheels (depending on which powertrain you choose), extra safety kit and front parking sensors. The Premium also adds keyless entry, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, plus wireless charging, clever LED headlights and the Krell sound system.

    Finally, the range is capped by the Ultimate model, which gets you 19-inch alloys and black leather upholstery, as well as the panoramic glass roof, ventilated front seats and heated outer rear seats. You also benefit from the electrically operated tailgate and a host of safety gadgets.

    The options list is limited, but you do get to choose from a wide array of colours. Bright red is standard, but customers can choose more reserved blacks, whites and greys. Or, if you want something more prominent, there’s a darker red and a lovely shade of teal on offer.

    Rival Cars

    With so many customers choosing SUVs over hatchbacks and estates, it’s no wonder the market is so competitive. Pretty much every mainstream car maker is fighting for a share of this sector, and most are doing so with cars that are either good or great. There really are very few duds.

    Among the best are the Seat Ateca, Skoda Karoq and Volkswagen Tiguan, which are all very similar under the skin. The three sister cars all offer solid interior quality and an agreeable driving experience, but they have slightly different characters. The Seat is the sporty and youthful one, while the Skoda is sensible and spacious. The VW is the classy, upmarket one. They’re all great at what they do.

    Other options include the funky-looking Peugeot 3008, the enormously competent Kia Sportage and the Ford Kuga, which will interest the keen drivers among us. For more left-field options, consider the Citroen C5 Aircross, which is also great for anyone who prioritises comfort, or the Toyota RAV4 with its refined hybrid system.

    Some might be wondering what happened to the Nissan Qashqai, but the new model has sacrificed comfort for handling, and although it’s still a solid choice, it has less appeal than its predecessor as a result. That said, our favourite Tucson rival is the Mazda CX-5 which feels just as premium as the Tiguan, but it’s better to drive and more distinctive to look at.

    Don’t discount the premium stuff, either. When you’re leasing, high-end models can be more competitive than you might think, so look at the Volvo XC40, Mercedes-Benz GLA and BMW X1. The Audi Q3 is also worth a look, along with the much-improved Jaguar E-Pace and the rather pleasant Land Rover Discovery Sport. You could even look at the very accomplished Range Rover Evoque.

    Verdict & Next Steps

    If you’re a racing driver or a badge snob, the Tucson will not be the car for you. But you’re neither of those things, so the Hyundai will hold plenty of appeal. The looks won’t be to everyone’s taste, but the on-board technology, excellent build quality and parsimonious engine options will be enough to convince most customers. The old Tucson was good enough to hold its own in this competitive corner of the market, but this new model puts the Hyundai up there with the best in the class.

    Where to next?

    View latest Hyundai Tuscon leasing deals - guide price from £261.85 per month inc VAT**

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    *Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Hyundai Tucson

    **Correct as of 25/08/2021. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £2,356.67 - Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.

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