Tucson in bid for SUV dominance
As things go, it is likely SUVs could become the biggest selling segment in the passenger car market some time during 2016.
The charge has been led by small and medium SUVs.
The latter segment has just been boosted by the addition of the Hyundai Tucson, a reworking of the popular Hyundai ix35, moving it up into the larger group.
The four-tier Tucson range offers front-wheel-drive or all-wheeldrive, four engines and three transmissions.
I had a taste of the ActiveX twowheel-drive variant, which comes to market at $32,990, plus on-road costs.
In design terms, the Tucson is the poster boy for Hyundai, setting the design trend taken up by its big brother, the Santa Fe Series II, the top-selling i30, Sonata sedans and the upmarket luxury Genesis.
Daytime running lights and foglamps are set in separate angular bumper-height recesses.
Side body lines sweep upward and asymmetrical wheel arches wrap new-design 17, 18 or 19-inch alloy wheels.
The rear design is simple, with horizontal lines flowing from bold rear wheel arches and accentuated by slim combination tail-lights.
Slim reflectors are integrated into the rear bumper. Longer, taller and with wider track than the ix35 it replaces, the Hyundai Tucson weighs in with a bolder stance, more front and rear leg and hip room, and more cargo space (488 litres) with the rear seats in place.
The modern dashboard has a seven-inch infotainment screen.
In a first for Hyundai, the Tucson ActiveX features Apple CarPlay, with Android Auto to follow early next year. Hyundai’s 2.0-litre direct-injection four-cylinder petrol engine is available exclusively in the 2WD Tucson ActiveX, combined with Hyundai’s advanced six-speed automatic transmission.
A more rigid body than the ix35 and improved structures to absorb crash forces are key factors in a high level of passive safety.
This is complemented by six airbags. Active safety features include Hyundai’s Electronic Stability Control system, reversing camera with dynamic steering guidelines, four-sensor rear parking assist, automatic dusk-sensing headlights and LED high-mount stop light and daytime running lights.
The Tucson’s brakes have also been improved.
The engine/transmission package is efficient, quiet and friendly, leading to stress-free motoring, although without all-wheel drive, there is a hint of understeer.
We recorded fuel consumption of 7.9L/100km during a mixture of town and country driving.
Improved isolation of key components and increased use of sound-deadening materials have reduced cabin noise. Good steering response comes from the Tucson’s electric power steering using the latest Logic computer processing.
The new Tucson adopts Hyundai’s latest Drive Mode Select system, as used in the new Sonata and Genesis.
ActiveX features two settings, each adjusting transmission programming, throttle mapping and steering effort.
In Eco, throttle effort is increased and, to help conserve fuel, the transmission shifts up at lower revs.
As with all Australian Hyundai cars and SUVs, the Tucson’s suspension was exhaustively tested in local conditions and tuned for Australian roads by the company’s local chassis development team.
Setting aside the fact the Hyundai Tucson ActiveX makes do with front-wheel-drive as opposed to allwheel power distribution, it is worthy of its medium-size SUV upgrade through space, quality and range of specification.
A bonus is the attractive purchase price and Hyundai’s fiveyear, unlimited kilometre warranty and Hyundai iCare.
The new Tucson is longer, taller and with wider track than the ix35 it replaces.
Horizontal lines flow from bold rear wheel arches and are accentuated by slim combination tail-lights.
The cabin space is worthy of medium SUV status.