Hyundai Tucson Active X is good value, well equipped, thoughtfully packaged and a great drive.
Hyundai has set out to rock the small SUV segment once more with the new Tucson. Available in a number of trim levels with either front or all-wheel drive, naturally aspirated or turbo petrol and diesel engines that are mated to either a six-speed manual or automatic or a seven-speed dual clutch transmission.
There are sharp new designs and technology including Apple Car Play and overall the Tucson is a fresher and more contemporary offering than its slightly dated but very capable and popular ix35 predecessor.
In the marketplace, the new Hyundai Tucson has its work cut out for it, doing battle for sales against everything from the Jeep Cherokee Sport, Nissan X-Trail, Mitsubishi Outlander, Mazda CX-5 and even Hyundai Group’s own Kia Sportage.
What we like:
- Sharp exterior styling
- Clever use of interior space and comfortable seats
- Petrol engine more than adequate
Not so much:
- Four star safety rating isn’t acceptable
- Four-cylinder motor punchy but not particularly economical
- No hands free telephony buttons on the steering wheel
- Interior design isn’t as dynamic as the exterior
Price and Equipment
The new Hyundai Tucson range kicks off with the Hyundai Tucson Active petrol with front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual from $27,990 plus on road costs and stretches to the Hyundai Tucson Highlander CRDi with a six-speed automatic, turbo diesel and all-wheel drive, which is priced from $45,490 before government charges. A more in-depth overview of the Hyundai Tucson range can be found here.
We sampled the Tucson Active X, which sits approximately in the middle of a very broad specification range. Hyundai introduced the Active X trim level on the updated i30, and it is designed to entice shoppers away from the bread and butter base Active with niceties such as leather trim and attractive alloy wheels for only a couple of thousand dollars more.
An interesting fact about the Hyundai Tucson Active X variants are that they are the only Tucson models that are made in Korea, the rest of the range is sourced from Hyundai Group’s factory in the Czech Republic.
Our test car was fitted with the six-speed automatic which is priced from $32,990.
The Tucson’s interior is an eye-catching blend of sharp and dynamic lines that give the car a silhouette that allows the car to be recognised from meters away. Inside, things are a little more conservative and simple.
However, the Tucson’s cabin is a damn sight more attractive than that in the outgoing ix35, everything is easy to use, the instrument cluster is large and clear, with the option of a digital speedometer should one choose.
Three key complaints we have about the interior is the lack of buttons on the steering wheel for the mobile phone Bluetooth handsfree system – there are buttons on the touchscreen, the Siri-based voice control system-another first for Hyundai-is mounted on the centre stack, slightly defeating the function’s purpose. Finally, the small and oddly-shaped centre console.
Build quality and use of materials is of the typically high Hyundai standard.
Still, the stereo is remarkably powerful for this price-point, there’s Apple Car Play – which we couldn’t get working on our test car – and the seats are wonderfully comfortable. The front two chairs in particular offer just the right balance of softness with side bolstering and under thigh support.
The rear bench is comfy too, if just a little firmer. Head, leg and shoulder room are also ample throughout and there’s almost enough room in the back for the two outer passengers to lounge around. Unfortunately, said passengers miss out on rear ventilation outlets, having to rely on those at the front.
The cargo area is 488 litres.
Engine and Transmission
The 2.0 litre petrol engine that powers the Tucson churns out 121kW @ 6200rpm and 203Nm @ 4700rpm. On paper, these figures don’t exactly set the world alight, but on the road, performance is surprisingly plentiful and the Tucson always seem to have enough power on tap for swift overtaking.
The engine is generally quiet too, accept when accelerating briskly – say quickly merging onto a freeway – where engine can become quite vocal.
The six-speed automatic is finessed in its gear changes and makes the most out of what the engine has to offer.
Average fuel economy was a little disappointing. Hyundai claims an average fuel consumption figure of 7.9 litres per 100 kilometres, but at times we were pushing around 10 litres on a combined cycle of city and open road driving.
On The Road
On the black stuff the Tucson Active X proves itself as a very competent SUV. The locally-tuned suspension delivers a supple and well-controlled ride which easily soaked up tram tracks and other surfaces around Melbourne’s CBD that can upset a car’s ride comfort.
Hit the open road and the Tucson’s steering can feel a little ambiguous and light, even vague if we’re being a little harsh. In the city and when navigating tight streets, the steering begins to make more sense and it makes it easy to manoeuvre the Tucson through dense traffic.
Road noise levels are a little higher than expected at highway speeds, affirming the Tucson Active X’s role as a city slicking SUV, although there is hill descent control should one find themselves a little too far from the bitumen.
Refreshing and modern styling? Check. Well-designed cabin? Check. Good road manners? Check. The only blot on the Tucson’s book seems to be safety. ANCAP revealed after its latest round of testing that the new Hyundai Tucson only scored a disappointing 4 star rating due to the way the driver’s footwell crumpled in the 64km/h front offset test.
Hyundai is believed to be examining the ANCAP data in preparation for a fix. Standard safety equipment on the Tucson Active X includes anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), traction control, stability control and dual front, side and curtain airbags.
A reversing camera is also standard equipment and its images are clear and its collection of guidance lines appear confusing at first, they are quite useful.
Servicing and Warranty
All Hyundais are covered by a five year unlimited kilometre warranty. Expect to pay around $269 for a standard service as part of Hyundai’s capped priced servicing plan.
Hyundai Tucson Active X Specs
Make and model: Hyundai Tucson Active X
Engine type: 1999cc, inline four-cylinder petrol engine, with DOHC and variable valve timing.
Power: 121kW @ 6200rpm
Torque: 203Nm @ 4700rpm
Transmission: six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Fuel consumption: 7.9 litres (combined)
Dimensions: 4475mm long, 1850mm wide, 1660mm high and 2670mm wheelbase
Steering: Electrically assisted Rack and pinion
Suspension: Front: MacPherson Strut Rear: Multi-link
Country of Origin: Korea
Options: Ara Blue metallic paint, $595