The Hyundai Tucson is a stylish, five-seat, mid-size SUV operating in a fiercely competitive sector of the market packed with talented rivals – if not dazzling in any one area it’s a strong contender nonetheless
The Tucson is a stylish mid-size SUV, and for many family car buyers, that’ll be enough. It has plenty more going for it, too, with a spacious, practical interior, generous equipment, a great warranty and keen pricing. Some rivals are better to drive and posher inside, but the Tucson is a very good all-rounder. Voted for by the public as the 2018 winner of Auto Trader’s New Car Award for ‘Best Car for Long Distances’.
Hyundai is a brand that prides itself on the value for money its cars represent, so while the Tucson isn’t cheap, you do get a lot of car – and standard equipment – for your money. Version-for-version, the Tucson’s figures for CO2 emissions and fuel economy are pretty competitive with those of most midsize SUV rivals, even though it can’t match the very cleanest cars in the class. Importantly, your car should be worth a decent chunk of its original value after three years of use, because Hyundai usually does pretty well in the important area of resale values.
Expert rating: 4/5
Reliability of a Hyundai Tucson
According to figures from Warranty Direct, Hyundai’s cars in general – and the previous-generation Tucson, in particular – are above average for reliability. The owner reviews on our website are mixed, but the majority report good reliability. There's very positive news from JD Power's Vehicle Reliability Study, which places among the best in the business, even though it’s been knocked off its previous top spot recently. And, there’s always the reassurance of Hyundai’s five-year warranty, which gives new buyers cover for all the major mechanicals for up to 100,000 miles of motoring.
Expert rating: 4/5
Safety for a Hyundai Tucson
In crash tests by safety organisation Euro NCAP tests in 2015, the Tucson scored a maximum five-star rating. Testing standards have risen since then, but so has the amount of safety kit you get, because the 2018 facelift made automatic emergency braking and lane-keep assist standard on every model. The standard roster also includes six airbags and a pop-up bonnet to give better protection to pedestrians, and if you go for one of the top two trim levels, you also get blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert.
Expert rating: 4/5
How comfortable is the Hyundai Tucson
Inside, the Tucson is a typical Hyundai, but that’s no bad thing. All the basics are done well, with enough adjustment on the driver’s seat and steering wheel for pretty much anyone to get comfortable. There’s a great view ahead and to the sides as well. However, while the small rear windows and wide rear pillars may give the car real style, they do limit the driver’s view out to the rear and over-the-shoulder. Rear parking sensors are standard on all but the most basic version though.
The Tucson immediately impresses as a family car. Not only do the rear doors open nice and wide to give easy access to the rear seats, the seats themselves provide plenty of space. Even with a couple of six-footers in the front seats, two more six-footers will have room to spare in the back. It's only the fact the centre seat is a little narrower than the outer seats that prevents the car from being a comfortable five-seater.
A comfortable ride is the most important dynamic aspect for any car that’ll primarily be used for ferrying your family, and the Tucson does a decent job. The soft suspension deals well with pitted and rippled surfaces at all speeds, and although you feel more from bigger bumps and potholes, they rarely make life uncomfortable. Having said that, you will feel the body bouncing around a fair bit on undulating roads, and there’s a little bit of body lean in bends, but this is an SUV, so it's to be expected somewhat.
If you opt for the sportier N-Line model, Hyundai has tweaked the suspension, so it’s a little firmer for tighter body control. The changes to the suspension aren’t very noticeable, and certainly don’t make the car any less comfortable, but the sharper steering on this model does help it feel a little more agile.
Expert rating: 3/5
Features of the Hyundai Tucson
The Tucson may not be a cheap car, but the good equipment on all four of its trim levels makes it look like good value. Entry-level trim comes with air-con, automatic headlights, alloy wheels, four powered windows and a touchscreen infotainment system including DAB radio, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
However, we think the next step up is worth the extra cost, adding cruise control, rear parking sensors, automatic wipers and satellite-navigation. Premium trim brings you leather upholstery, electric front seats, heated seats all round, an upgraded stereo and front parking sensors, while at the top of the range, Premium SE features a heated steering wheel, an electrically operated tailgate, a 360-degree parking camera and a panoramic sunroof, but it also starts looking seriously pricey.
If you fancy the sportier N-Line model, you get a few tweaks inside the car, including N-branded leather-suede sports seats, red accent stitching on the steering wheel and seats, and a leather-wrapped N gear shift lever.
Expert rating: 4/5
Power for a Hyundai Tucson
There are a few petrol and diesel engines to choose from with the Hyundai Tucson. Petrol powered options are a 1.6-litre non-turbocharged engine with 132 horsepower, or a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine with 177 horsepower. The lower powered engine does need working quite hard, and you’ll find yourself changing gears a lot to get around with any sort of pace. The higher-powered petrol engine offers more pep. It wouldn’t be considered sporty, but it doesn’t need working as hard, and you will find it easier to pick up speed.
For the diesels there are two power options for the 1.6-litre and a more powerful 2.0-litre to choose from. All benefit from what’s known as mild hybrid assistance based around a more sophisticated 48V electrical system. The Tucson can’t operate on electric power alone like some rivals, the motor in this instance filling in with a subtle power boost on acceleration, recovering energy under braking and controlling a cleverer start-stop system all to the benefit of CO2 and fuel consumption. Our pick would be the mid-range 1.6 with 136 horsepower, which is powerful enough and also pretty smooth and quiet.
All but the range-topping 2.0 diesel are two-wheel drive and available with a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic. The top model gets all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic as standard.