The 2016 Tucson comes to market with a far more aggressive look and style than the last generation, incorporating the brand’s latest design elements like the bold hexagon grille and angular headlights. Creases and bends in the sheetmetal are more deliberate now, and they go a long way to giving it a new presence.
Lower body cladding and fender arches made of plastic give it a rugged look that remains civilized and sleek, not overly bulky like some. They really fold into the rear bumper nicely too which accentuates its stance that kinda looks like it wants to pounce.
Our fully loaded Limited AWD comes with the top level details you’ll expect at its price like 19-inch alloy wheels. The lighting package includes HID front headlamps, LED day time running lights and tail lights out back. And there I was glad to see Hyundai finished things off with a nice healthy exhaust tip.
The interior of our Limited was also well equipped with a lot of high-end goodies like leather seating, heated and cooled up front, and even heated in the rear. The front seats are both power adjustable and I thought quite comfortable.
Controls and switchgear are all laid out logically and clean such that finding your way around at first isn’t difficult. And once you learn them, it’s a snap to operate most everything on the go. The steering wheel and instrument cluster both offer a lot to look at, yet they are clear an legible.
The rear seats of course fold down in a 60/40 split for a nearly flat load floor, very easily I might add. The headrests don’t even need to be removed unless the front seats are adjusted all the way back. And the cargo floor has a two level adjustment so you can lower it for additional height back here.
Under the cargo floor is a temporary spare tire which is good. But as you can see with the load floor up in the high position there is enough room for a full size spare if you wanted one, or room to hide a lot of small things people tend to pack in their cars.
Storage is a strong suit here with a deep center console bin under the armrest and a good sized place for your devices ahead of the shifter with inputs and power plugs. The console also has a nice side pocket as do the doors.
Given the comfort of the interior front and rear, its quality and fit, as well as its commendable versatility it was very easy to rate this interior at 5 of 5 stars.
When it comes to technology, the Limited comes with Hyundai’s top level UVO touch-screen infotainment and navigation system. It’s audio quality was 8 on a 10 scale and using it is relatively easy. It has virtually everything except for a CD player, getting to be less important these days.
There is a bit of a learning curve and some of the steering wheel controls aren’t as intuitive as they could be here as they relate to the menus on screen. Overall, we give it 4 of 5 stars in the technology department.
Under the hood is the top level 1.6 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine which has 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That power goes to the ground through a new 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and on our tester an all-wheel drive system.
The EPA rates this power team at 24 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined. I achieved 30 mpg in my time with it which is four higher than promised. It impresses in power and performance overall, but still lacks some refinement in its transmission.
This brings the powertrain score to 4 of 5 stars and this powertrain by the way is standard on all trim grades except the entry level SE which comes with a 2.0 liter non-turbocharged four cylinder that has 164 horsepower.
The Tucson’s chassis is heavily redesign for 2016, with vast improvements in stiffness from increased use of high-strength steels. Suspension improvements to its MacPherson struts include new Sachs dampers, as well as redesigned geometry and bushing designs for a more solid feel.
The only major item that kept me from being entirely smitten with its chassis was occasional torque steer under power, as its all-wheel drive system is part time. And the steering feel was at times quite vague on various surfaces. All in though, it still earns 4 of 5 stars.
The Tucson is now available with a vast array of crash prevention systems which help it to achieve a Top Safety Pick + rating with the IIHS. It achieved Good ratings in their full battery of tests including the small-overlap crash.
And that sense of solid quality translates to the big picture too. The exterior and interior exhibited exemplary fit and finish. It felt and sounded solid, only developing some rattle and shake on rougher roads. Quality feel comes in at 5 of 5 stars.
At $35,070 and loaded with features that some competitors don’t even offer at any price, we felt it represented a five star value. Thus all-in our total test drive evaluation score is 4.5 of 5 stars.