Hyundai Tucson SUV review
"The latest Hyundai Tucson surprises with adventurous styling and luxury"
- Bold looks
- Smart interior
- Good to drive
- Price increase
- Slightly firm ride
- Boot size varies
Hyundai is a brand once derided for the conservative, dowdy styling of its cars, but you wouldn't know it looking at the fourth-generation Hyundai Tucson. Here's a daring SUV that makes a bold statement; not a bad thing in a class packed with rivals, including the Ford Kuga, Peugeot 3008 and Skoda Karoq. Hyundai is even hoping it will attract some buyers away from more upmarket models like the Volkswagen Tiguan and Audi Q3.
Its grille is particularly striking because not only does it practically cover the entire nose, but lighting elements are seamlessly integrated into it, giving the Tucson the look of a concept car. When turned off, they look just like facets of the grille. The Hyundai's flanks are no less intriguing, with swollen wheelarches and dramatic sharp creases. The roof pillars are all black but a silver accent arcs from the base of the windscreen to the tailgate in an elegant curve.
The rear is no less dramatic, with a completely new look that includes a coast-to-coast strip of red light between new vertical rear lights. The mesh theme from the front grille is reflected in the back bumper, above a silver skid plate that continues the sharp-edged design language of the bodywork.
It would be easy for the interior to disappoint but impressively, it's just as striking. Feeling two generations newer than the outgoing car, the jutting plastic forms of the old dashboard have been replaced with a flat, sweeping fascia trimmed in posh-looking materials. Silver trim accentuates the top of the dash and flows onto the doors, accentuating the SUV's width and sense of space. Meanwhile, the lack of any instrument cowling also opens up the view ahead for an airy feeling, with the driver's display sitting like a tablet suspended behind the steering wheel.
A glass touchscreen (also measuring 10.25-inches) sits beneath the air vents in the centre console, and successfully adds to the upmarket aesthetic. It has crisp graphics, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and connects with Hyundai's Bluelink app, enabling owners to check on their car remotely. Top trims also get an upgraded sound system by American high-end audio specialists Krell, but even the entry-level SE Connect version is well equipped.
Choose a Tucson with an automatic gearbox and you'll find buttons instead of a gear lever, freeing up space for large cupholders and storage cubbies. A general increase in size has also served up room for a bigger boot, measuring up to 620 litres in volume for the petrol version. This shrinks to 546 litres in the mild-hybrid diesel but even this is bigger than a number of rivals.
Hyundai has largely moved away from diesel power for its latest SUV, instead bolstering its line-up of 1.6-litre petrol engines and offering a Tucson Hybrid for the first time. Thanks to the addition of an electric motor and small battery pack, this offers up to 227bhp and 49.6mpg, with CO2 emissions of 127g/km. A plug-in hybrid is also set to arrive in 2021. Petrol engines are available with or without four-wheel drive and mild-hybrid tech, while the sole 1.6 CRDi diesel gets two-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission for maximum efficiency.
Our first test of the Hybrid revealed a talented chassis, with impressive steering feel for an SUV, nimble handling and good body control. Instant electric torque also helps the Tucson get smartly off the line, and makes it feel quicker than its official 0-62mph time of eight seconds. While reasonably firm, the ride also felt acceptable, even with large 19-inch alloy wheels fitted.
Just a few years ago, it would have been hard to believe Hyundai would be a trendsetter for car design. The last Tucson was certainly handsome, but the new one impresses by pushing SUV styling forwards and delivering a really upmarket interior for a mainstream model. First impressions show the hybrid has the potential to be a solid alternative for diesel buyers, and that the Tucson offers both refined driving manners and plentiful space for families. However, it's no longer a budget option, as prices have crept up along with its desirability.