Hyundai Tuscon Review
The Hyundai Tucson is one of those cars that goes about its business without much fanfare.
Another vehicle in the increasingly competitive compact crossover SUV market, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t especially memorable either.
Select's rating score* - 4 / 5
At A Glance
It is hard to believe that it's been around since 2004 (although at one stage, its name was changed to the ix35, despite it still being marketed as the Tucson in other parts of the world).
It is on its fourth generation now, and this new one aims to change its reputation as a car that doesn't live long in the memory. Indeed, initial impressions strike a chord.
Firstly, you’d be forgiven for thinking Hyundai had installed a solar farm at the front. The grille comprises an interconnected web of silvery-grey panels, and, curiously, the headlights sit next to it and take the same shape.
You barely notice the lights when they’re off, meaning the grille looks like it dominates the entire width of the front end.
As you go down the grille, its sides make their way diagonally inwards, creating room on each side for two chiselled cheekbone-like housings. This is where the fog lights live, while beneath the number plate in the middle, there is a modest curved lower grille.
The sides look equally sculpted. A crease starts above the headlights and makes its way around the top of the wheel arch underneath the door mirror to two diagonal lines in the doors, extending towards the back, creating an indentation at the bottom, accentuating the side skirts.
It is undoubtedly one of the more aggressively styled cars we've seen, side-on.
The rear is equally striking, with a silver piece of trim extending from the top of the doors around to the side of the rear windscreen. Meanwhile, the vertical-cum-diagonal rear lights look like they have taken some inspiration from a Ford Mustang. There is also a lightbar running along the width of the boot. Plus, there’s some honeycomb styling at the bottom, in which a diffuser sits.
The Hyundai Tucson has never been overly pretty, but these new looks add some more personality. It is anything but a boring design.
So, the mission is accomplished so far in terms of the Tucson etching itself in your memory.
Except for an all-electric model, the Tucson is available in just about every other form: petrol-only, mild hybrid, self-charging hybrid and plug-in hybrid.
It is the self-charging hybrid we’re interested in. But the trims vary depending on which model of Tucson you’re leasing, so it’s worth double-checking the equipment levels if you choose something else.
The entry-level SE Connect, for example, isn’t available with the plug-in hybrid. It is available on the self-charging model, though, so we’ll start there.
You get 17-inch alloys, forward collision avoidance assist, phone connection with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, dual-zone climate control and rear parking sensors.
The Premium trim upgrades the alloys to 18-inches and adds front and rear parking sensors, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a Krell premium audio system (with a subwoofer) and LED headlights.
Next up, the N Line trim adds a smart key with keyless entry, a start/stop button, a wireless phone charger, and leather and suede seats.
The N Line S will get you heated front seats, a panoramic glass electric sunroof (which slides and tilts), a smart electric tailgate and a heated steering wheel.
Finally, the Ultimate trim adds three-zone climate control.
In terms of powertrains, there’s a choice of one – a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol unit which, when combined with an electric motor, gives you 230PS.
It is only two-wheel drive, though. If you want four-wheel drive, then a more powerful variant drives all the wheels, producing 265PS. But it would be best if you chose the plug-in hybrid to get it. Four-wheel drive is also available with 180PS in the mild-hybrid, but it’s only obtainable in the top two trims.
In that case, we’ll stick with the 230PS self-charging hybrid for our test drive.
Performance & Drive
We are driving the top-of-the-range Ultimate trim - and, for once, the weather is nice. Naturally, therefore, we benefit from the three-zone climate control and the other trimmings, such as the panoramic glass sunroof. This feature offers a lovely view of the rarely seen blue sky in Great Britain.
The 230PS powertrain accelerates well initially and takes 6.8-seconds to reach 62mph from a standing start. That is good given you’re carrying the extra weight of an electric motor and its batteries. Plus, the newest Hyundai Tucson is hardly a tiny, lightweight hatchback.
The six-speed dual-clutch automatic changes smoothly, although there is a delay when you floor the throttle while it works out what it’s got to do.
Nevertheless, the acceleration will more than meet the needs of anyone leasing a Tucson. And, if it doesn’t, there’s always the additional power of the plug-in hybrid.
Speaking of which, if you want some all-electric range, then the plug-in is the one to go for. While the car we're driving can operate on electric power alone, it's only suitable for pootling about in rush hour traffic or at slow speeds around town. But it’s no substitute for a vehicle designed to be driven without the engine for prolonged periods. For example, the PHEV can do 38 miles on all-electric power alone.
The added weight means the ride is on the firm side. We have 19-inch wheels on our Ultimate trim, making the ride less stiff. However, grades lower down the range get 17 or 18-inches, which helps.
The Tucson’s suspension isn’t particularly absorbing, so creases and potholes are pretty noticeable.
Likewise, it never feels settled at higher speeds and tends to wobble about unless the road surface is perfect, which, in the United Kingdom, it often isn’t. Nonetheless, the ride isn’t uncomfortable.
Usually, a firmer suspension means keener handling as it’ll be more responsive and consistent through bends. Unfortunately, though, we didn’t think that was the case. The body roll in the corners isn’t as limited as on some rivals.
And, while there’s a respectable amount of grip, the Tucson didn’t seem markedly compliant when we tried to take it to its limits on meandering British B-roads.
The steering is light, which is great for urban driving, but it’s not firm enough at higher speeds to get the best out of its more rigid setup.
Consequently, we found the Hyundai wasn't as agile as we'd hoped, meaning those who want to enjoy the driving experience will be slightly disappointed. And those who prioritise comfort will be wishing they’d leased a lower trim and had the smaller wheels.
That said, although the Hyundai doesn’t deliver thrills, it’s still not bad to drive. Yes, the new Tucson is more at home as a relaxed cruiser - but its generous amounts of horsepower mean it’s happy to be put to work if you want to eek some extra performance from it. It drives well. It is just that the handling seems at odds with the grunt underneath the bonnet.
Around town, though, it’s great. It is quiet even when the engine is on, and there's an air of tranquillity about driving with the petrol-fed powerplant off. Meanwhile, the road and wind noise are reasonably muted at higher speeds.
The automatic ‘box changes smoothly most of the time. That said, it can be twitchy at lower speeds, and, more than once, we felt a bit of a jerk in stop-start traffic while it worked out which gear it needed to be in.
Under deceleration, you get regenerative braking – a feature of most hybrids and all-electric cars, which puts some charge back into the battery. Unfortunately, the Tucson's system isn't the best, and the level of braking required often feels inconsistent, especially if you brake sharply.
Running Costs & Emissions
The self-charging hybrid version we’re driving will do about 50mpg, producing 126g/km of CO2, which isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination.
The standard petrol isn’t shabby either, managing around 43mpg. However, CO2 emissions increase to 148g/km, while the mild hybrid can do approximately 40mpg, producing 133g/km of CO2.
If emissions are a concern, though, the plug-in hybrid manages around 35 miles of all-electric range. It also emits just 31g/km of CO2 (and no CO2 when driving all-electric) and is good enough for 202mpg. However, this will plunge into the mid-30s if the battery is empty.
If you’re a company car user, there's little point in going for anything other than the plug-in hybrid due to the substantial savings on Benefit in kind tax.
One benefit of leasing a Hyundai is that it’s among the more reliable marques out there, and its models are not overly expensive to service.
Interior & Technology
The latest Tucson’s interior is vastly improved on older generations, with an unusual steering wheel that only seems to have horizontal spokes.
It looks the part with the wide touchscreen integrated into the dashboard, sitting flush with its surroundings. The dash is two-tiered, too, which adds a premium feel and creates the illusion of giving you more space.
Although it’s nice, when you consider the high sticker price of our flagship Ultimate trim, it’s pushing into the territory of the premium brands, which the Tucson still doesn’t compete with.
Our car features a digital instrument display which is friendly, clear, and informative. And although there are plenty of buttons outside the infotainment system, most are touch-sensitive. Therefore, they can be challenging to operate on the move.
The infotainment system is crisp and reasonably responsive. It doesn’t lag much, but it's not class-leading. At least it’s easy to use, though, and the menus are simple to navigate.
Our model is fitted with what Hyundai calls the Tech Pack. This adds a blind-spot view monitor, which displays the blind spot on the digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel when you use the indicators. This technology helps with visibility.
The downside is that you end up taking your eyes off the road. Therefore, it needs to be used sparingly and with a fair dollop of caution, especially if you’re doing 70mph on a motorway.
Practicality & Boot Space
The new Tucson’s seats are comfortable, helped by the electric-adjustable lumbar support. Plus, it’s easy to find a spot-on driving position. However, those thinking about SUVs so they can laud it over other motorists might be disappointed to realise you’re not as high off the ground as you might hope.
In terms of visibility, the front pillars can get in the way as they’re swept back quite a bit. At the same time, the rear posts are even thicker, so we’re grateful that the Ultimate trim includes front and rear parking sensors.
Thanks to the clever interior design, there's plenty of leg and headroom in the front, and you don't feel hemmed in.
The rear seats are generously sized, too, and even taller passengers won’t be complaining. Two adults in the back will fit without a problem, while there’s room for three if you don’t mind sacrificing some shoulder room. The back seats can recline, too, which is nice.
The door bins aren't large in terms of storage space, but you will fit a small water bottle in there. There is plenty of room in the centre console cubby, while the glove compartment is on the generous side.
You get 616-litres of cargo capacity in the boot, which increases to 1,795 litres with the rear seats down. These seats fold away in a versatile 40:20:40 split, made easier by levers in the Ultimate trim model.
Thankfully, the boot capacity is only four litres lower than the petrol non-hybrid version. Interestingly, the mild hybrid loses more (577 increasing to 1,756-litres) while the plug-in hybrid is unsurprisingly the smallest (558 increasing to 1,737-litres). But the Hyundai Tucson still boasts a big boot for a car of its size.
There is no boot lip, either, which makes lifting bulkier items in and out easier. Meanwhile, you also get a limited amount of underfloor storage (although you don’t get this on the plug-in hybrid).
Safety body Euro NCAP tested the Hyundai Tucson in 2021, awarding it a five-star rating.
It scored well, achieving 86 per cent for adult occupants, 87 per cent for children and 70 per cent for safety assists.
All Tucsons have automatic emergency braking, speed limit recognition and driver attention alert. Meanwhile, the Premium trim and above include the blind-spot system we mentioned earlier and rear cross-traffic alert technology.
Our Ultimate trim incorporates highway drive assist, which provides automated steering on roads such as motorways and dual carriageways.
Hyundai doesn’t offer many optional extras for the Tucson.
As we’re driving the Ultimate trim, our car comes with everything Hyundai can throw at it in any case. But we still only get one colour (bright red) and have to pay for the privilege of anything else.
Solid white is a few hundred pounds more, while metallic grey, dark pearl grey, dark pearl red, pearl black, metallic bronze, metallic teal and a darker white all cost even more. N Line and N Line S trims can come in solid grey (for a price) but not metallic grey for reasons that aren’t immediately apparent.
There is a choice of a black or moss grey leather interior on the Ultimate trim – thankfully for no extra charge.
Hyundai Smart Sense, which includes forward collision-avoidance assist, junction turning, and smart cruise control, costs a little extra on the trims where it’s not included as standard.
Given that we've been testing the Ultimate trim, it's pushing the price well into the bracket of premium brands. So, if your budget is in that area, the Volvo XC40, Range Rover Evoque and the BMW X1 are also worth considering.
Verdict & Next Steps
Overall, the Hyundai Tucson is a decent contender, albeit with a few drawbacks.
Our hybrid is pleasingly powerful, but performance seekers will find its handling isn’t as sharp as the powertrain’s horsepower figure might lead you to believe. Meanwhile, the ride isn’t as comfortable as it could be, especially on trims with bigger wheels.
The interior is its strong suit, with a very stylish design. What’s more, the amount of space inside will be welcome news to those who need the practicality or want to ferry other adults about in the back seats regularly.
However, while the Ultimate trim gets you everything Hyundai can throw at it, it pushes it into the price range of rivals who can out-gun the Tucson.
If you can cope with a lower trim, so you're handing over less money, then it's a car worth shortlisting. Plus, we reckon the self-charging hybrid is the pick of the bunch.
Where to next?
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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 18/05/2022. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £2,278.80 Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.