This second generation Hyundai Tucson is the latest in a long line of crossovers to go up against the class-leading Seat Ateca and still firm favourite the Nissan Qashqai, with its existence coming about as a slightly larger replacement for the now-superseded ix35, which ironically replaced the first gen Tucson in 2009.
Even before turning a wheel, the Tucson has much in its favour. For example, it comes with a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty. That eclipses the vast majority of its rivals, which typically feature three-year, 60,000-mile warranties.
Understanding the Hyundai Tucson USPs
There’s a sense from the outset that the Tucson has been designed to be painless to live with. From its simple push-to-open fuel filler door to the easily dropped rear seats, every aspect appears pleasingly straightforward.
Even with six core trim levels the Tucson caters well for most driver's need with its entry-level S trim, which equips the crossover with 16in alloy wheels, auto headlights and wipers, electrically adjustable and heated wing mirrors, hill start assist and trailer stability assistance as standard. Inside there is reclining rear seats, USB and Bluetooth connectivity and air conditioning.
Upgrade to SE and the Tucson gains 17in alloys, cruise control, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, parking sensors, roof rails and a full sized spare wheel, while the opting for SE Nav adds an 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system complete with sat nav, speed limit notification and a reversing camera. For those after a sportier version of the SUV, there is the Sport Edition, which equips the Hyundai with 19in alloys, electrically adjustable front seats, heated rear seats, front parking sensors and tinted rear windows.
Topping the range is the Premium and Premium SE models. The former gets numerous safety systems - including autonomous emergency braking, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert, while the latter indulges itself with LED headlights, keyless entry, electric tailgate, heated steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats and numerous chrome details.
Hit the road and this theme continues. Urban and country roads are tackled with ease, rarely troubling the driver and passengers. The 2.0-litre diesel engine doesn’t feel particularly muscular, despite producing 275lb ft, but it rarely frustrates, isn’t overly intrusive and grants adequate acceleration. For those seeking a bit more power there is an uprated version of the engine producing 181bhp and comes only with all four wheels driven.
There are three other engines to choose from all which drive the front wheels - a 130bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol and two variants of Hyundai's efficient 1.7-litre diesel - a 114bhp and 139bhp respectively for those who are interested.
Does the Hyundai Tucson deliver on the road
Carrying speed through corners proves no major issue because the Tucson has a keen front end and impressive body control. It rides in a fine, well-damped fashion, but this version was a little harsh over broken roads with its 19in wheels.
There’s little in the way of feedback through the steering, though, and the woollen feel around the dead-ahead is a further negative, but it’s otherwise precise and well-weighted. Braking power is decent and easily modulated with a satisfyingly snatch-free response at lower speeds.
Some may find this Hyundai’s lack of engine and steering verve disappointing but, given the Tucson’s intended market, it’s not a huge strike against it. That said, although there’s not much here for the keener driver as you would find in an Ateca, but there is pleasure to be found in the way the Tucson smoothly, competently and comfortably gets down the road.
The cabin is hardly inspirational to look at but scores for practicality. There’s stacks of room, plenty of storage space, comfortable seating for five adults and a vast load bay. Equipment levels are impressive helping to justify its price somewhat.
Only dull, hard and easily marked plastics let the cabin down – a shame when you consider the attention to detail elsewhere. A full-size spare wheel is standard, except on the Sport Edition which makes do with a space saver, and bag hooks in the load bay reduce the chances of spilling the weekly shop.
This diesel may not measure up on the efficiency front, though. Hyundai claims 54.3mpg, but following our test across a mix of roads, the trip computer reported an average of 38.2mpg. That would still result in a range of more than 520 miles, though, thanks to a 62-litre tank.
We’d go for the SE Nav version instead, with the quieter and more efficient 1.7-litre diesel. It doesn’t do away with too many luxuries and, in the real world, doesn’t feel much slower than the 2.0-litre diesel tested here. More pertinent, it’ll cost you some £5000 less, and with that in your pocket you will be less concerned about missing out on the driving verve found with the Qashqai and Ateca.
Admittedly, that model isn’t available with four-wheel drive, but that’s unlikely to spook many buyers. Put some of the saving towards a set of winter tyres instead and enjoy.