Hyundai has shown its willingness to push the envelope with its affordable Tucson SUV in some pretty high-profile ways. The automaker has notably offered a hydrogen fuel cell variant to consumers in limited numbers and both hybrid and plug-in hybrid concepts were shown at the most recent Geneva Motor Show.
For the here-and-now, conventionally powered models offer consumers plenty of goodness at approachable cost. Hyundai’s third-generation 2016 Tucson crossover SUV is distinguished with an edgier design that carries through the Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design theme that debuted on the 2015 Genesis, aiming at a bolder and more athletic appearance. The Tucson is also a bit bigger this year with a one inch longer wheelbase and exterior dimensions an inch wider and three inches longer, adding to a noticeably roomier interior. Driving dynamics are improved with an enhanced suspension and a more rigid chassis using more than 50 percent advanced high-strength steel.
The 2016 Tucson features a pair of powertrains that emphasize power and fuel efficiency. Base models are equipped with a carryover 164 horsepower, 2.0-liter direct-injected four-cylinder with a six-speed automatic transmission. This SHIFTRONIC automatic offers a manual shifting mode and integrates an overdrive lock-up torque converter to boost fuel efficiency. Eco, Sport, and Limited models get a new 175 horsepower, 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder coupled to a seven-speed EcoShift dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Most notable for those seeking higher fuel economy is the Eco model, which delivers one additional mile per gallon in the city and three more on the highway, achieving 26/33 city/highway mpg. The Eco uses 17 inch wheels and low rolling resistance tires to help achieve this. Sport and Limited models ride on 19 inch wheels.
All versions are available with front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. The AWD system uses an electronically controlled clutch at the rear axle. The system’s Active Cornering Control All Wheel Drive provides improved all-weather traction and greater cornering capability. It does this by transferring engine torque to the rear wheels while applying braking force to the inside rear wheel and transmitting extra power to the opposite wheel, thus providing a torque-vectoring effect.
For driving off-road and in slippery conditions, there is also a driver-selectable AWD lock that allows for a 50/50 split of available torque between the front and rear wheels. A Drive Mode Select feature allows a driver to customize the Tucson’s dynamic response to alter steering effort, throttle mapping, and transmission shift points according to personal preference or changing driving conditions.
New-for-2016 are available LED headlights, LED Daytime Running Lights, and HID headlights with Dynamic Bending Light that turn-in with the direction of the steering wheel. Also new is a color LCD cluster display, individual tire monitoring, and heated rear seats. The new Tucson features a host of standard and available advanced technology safety features. These include forward-collision warning with automatic braking and pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning, lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive headlights. A backup camera is now standard on all trim levels.
Whatever Hyundai’s advanced technology vehicle plans may be for its lineup in the future, given the popularity of the SUV segment and the current Tucson’s appealing entry-level MSRP of $22,700, it certainly appears that the Tucson will be a high-profile torch-bearer in the company’s expanding ‘green’ offerings.