Hyundai’s new Tucson is the successor to the brand’s popular small SUV, the ix35.
It’s larger in most key dimensions - length, width, height, wheelbase, and front and rear track - than its predecessor.
In fact, it has now been bumped up from the small SUV category to medium SUV in the FCAI’s official vehicle classification list, V-Facts.
Interior space is one of the Tucson’s strengths with rear seat occupants pretty well catered for by segment standards. There’s good head room, while leg and foot space is better than might be expected. Centre rear occupants only have a relatively low driveline ‘hump’ in the floor to deal with.
The cargo area, accessed via the hands-free power-operated tailgate, is also quite generous and visibly larger than Mazda’s popular CX-5. There’s an extra 85 litres with rear seats upright, according to Hyundai. Dropping the 60:40 split-fold rear seats flat liberates a claimed 1478 litres of space, to easily accommodate larger items. A ski-port in the rear seat isn’t provided though.
Tucson’s practicality extends further with three 12-volt power outlets provided, and sufficient oddments stowage space around the cabin for wallets, phones, drink bottles etc.
The slide-out sun visor extensions are long enough to allow the visors to effectively screen the full length of the front side windows; something other cars with visor extensions, annoyingly, often don’t do. And we like the fact that a full-size alloy spare wheel is standard kit.
In typical Hyundai style, Tucson offers good equipment levels and backs the vehicle with a long warranty. Interior fit and finish has a neat, quality look, but lacks the premium feel and style of Mazda’s CX-5.
Tucson 2WD versions scored a disappointing four stars in independent ANCAP crash tests, sending the company’s engineers scurrying off to implement design changes to address the result.
Both 2WD and AWD subsequently now have a five star rating.
The Elite’s diesel engine musters 136kW of power, and a healthy 400Nm of torque. Throttle response is solid, especially in the low and mid-rev range.
The new Tucson offers a better blend of ride comfort and handling skills than the ix35, and has benefited from local suspension tuning. Ride is firm, but comfortable, and lacks the sometimes harsh nature of its predecessor.
Handling is competent, secure and predictable, though ultimately not as sporty as the CX-5.