The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.6
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’.
Reasons to buy
- Good-value package of equipment
- Spacious and practical interior
- Stylish looks
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
With SUVs being all about style, it’s just as well the Tucson is a very handsome car. The front end is dominated by a massive hexagonal grille that was slightly reworked in a 2018 facelift, and that facelift also bought in new designs for the headlamps, fog lights, front bumper and skid plate. At the rear, changes were made to the light clusters, bumper and exhaust design, while the wheels (alloy as standard) range in size between 16 and 19 inches, depending on the trim level you choose.
The trim level has other effects on the look of your car, too. Body-coloured bumpers and mirrors are standards across the range, but S Connect and SE Nav trims have black plastic door handles, while Premium and Premium SE trims have silver ones.
The sportier-looking Tucson N-Line has its own bumpers and a dark mesh grille framed with dark chrome. The N-Line comes with dark 19-inch alloy wheels and a rear spoiler in glossy black. It also gets its own daytime running lights, darkened window frames and body-coloured door handles to make it more aggressive looking.
What's the interior like?
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. The infotainment system is reasonably easy to get to grips with, and on top of that, Hyundai does a neat line in big, chunky buttons that are well marked and easy to press on the move.
However, quite a few of the materials are hard and scratchy, and even those that aren’t look like they are. That means the Tucson’s cabin doesn’t feel as posh as those in some rivals. Secondly, 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.
If you fancy the sportier N-Line model, you get a few tweaks inside the car, including N-branded leather-suede sports seats, which are more supportive than the normal seats, red accent stitching on the steering wheel and seats, and a leather-wrapped N gear shift lever.
How practical is it?
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.
The boot lid gives a wonderfully wide opening, and that combines with the lack of any lip to make loading and unloading really easy. What’s more, the 513-litre capacity is more than you’ll find in a Nissan Qashqai or Mazda CX-5, although there are newer cars, such as the Skoda Karoq that offer more boot space. It’s easy to fold down the 60/40 split rear seats to leave an almost entirely flat load area.
What's it like to drive?
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. There isn't much feel in the steering either, so overall it’s not the sharpest-feeling car of its type, but it doesn’t undermine the feeling of safety you get.
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 steering has also been revised, to give a bit more feel to it. The changes to the suspension aren’t very noticeable, and certainly don’t make the car any less comfortable, but the changes to the steering do lead to a quicker response when you turn the wheel.
How powerful is it?
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.
The diesel range starts with a 1.6-litre engine with 115 horsepower. Like with the entry level petrol, it will need working hard to get any sort of performance out of it. Although it’s got a bit more low-down pull than the petrol, you might want a bit more power if you do more than just pottering around town.
The performance of the 1.6-litre diesel with 136 horsepower is punchier, but not quite sparkling, getting you up to cruising speeds reasonably easily, if not particularly quickly. The engine is pretty smooth and quiet. The manual six-speed gearshift is pretty precise, and you can also get this engine with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
The range-topping engine, a 185 horsepower 2.0-litre diesel is paired with a 48v battery that helps economy by extending the operating window of the stop-start system, helping out with propulsion when pulling away, and by allowing the car to coast when slowing down. It doesn’t feel a whole lot quicker than the other diesel, because despite the extra help (which is barely detectable), the car’s acceleration isn’t particularly quick. The eight-speed automatic gearbox swaps gears pretty smoothly and quickly most of the time, but even gentle pressure on the accelerator pedal results in a downshift, which can be a bit annoying.
How much will it cost me?
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.
How reliable is it?
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 2018 Vehicle Reliability Study, which places Hyundai at the top of all manufacturers. 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.
How safe is it?
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.
How much equipment do I get?
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 S Connect trim comes with air-con, automatic headlights, alloy wheels, four powered windows and a touchscreen infotainment system that includes DAB radio, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
However, we think SE Nav 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.
There’s much to like about the Tucson, particularly its stylish looks, excellent standard equipment and its spacious and practical interior. Overall, the Tucson is a very solid all-rounder that will suit most families.