This week journalists from all over the nation converged on Minneapolis, Minnesota to have an extended drive in the 2016 Hyundai Tucson. We drove through the city, on gravel roads, through the countryside, over a bridge into Wisconsin and in small towns. All were appropriate as the Tucson is clearly meant to live in all these places.
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It’s a practical vehicle with seating for five adults and most of their things that’s priced very low (starts at $22,700) but comes with enough amenities that you don’t feel like you’re in an affordable car.
There are three driving modes with the Tucson: default, eco & sport. The sport is an awful lot of fun and you can feel the steering tighten right up but it’s still very clear that you’re in a small SUV. The eco mode is awesome in that it’ll save you some fuel but if you take advantage of it know that you’ll go from 0 to 60 in about a week.
Overall the new 2016 Tucson has some great features. Heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats and a substantial and leather wrapped steering wheel propels it into a different class. I haven’t driven a 2015 Tucson for more than a three mile test drive but I do own a 2015 Kia Sportage (very similar) and the European styling for the dash makes a world of difference with this vehicle.
The navigation system is smooth and intuitive. We made good use of it when we realized we had lost track of the directions that were written for us on paper. I particularly enjoy that the navigation screen gives you an estimated time of arrival and it posts the speed limit. I often wonder what the limit is as I move through different parts of the city or change types of roads.
I drove the Limited FWD which comes equipped with a 1.6 liter turbo charged 4 cylinder engine. It delivers 175hp at 5,500 rpm and 195 lb-ft torque at 1,500 to 4,500 rpm. It sips fuel getting 25 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway and it’s really quite lovely running through town and getting onto a highway. The only time I was wishing for more was when we were at 50 or 60 mph and wanting to accelerate, it was a waiting game and not a fun one but it was made better with the vehicle in sport mode.
If you have a need for speed the Shiftronics might appeal to you. The Tucson has a six speed transmission and paddle shifters allow you to drive at the rpm you desire – for me it was higher and really quite enjoyable. It’s not how I would drive all day every day but I’d scoot up Beverly Glen or maneuver down Sunset Blvd that way.
Much like the Sonata I am not the biggest fan of the blind spot warning. I think it’s overly conservative and louder than necessary but I drive in a busier city than most and have a tendency to put myself into tight spaces. The lane departure warnings are fantastic and unlike some others that I’ve played with, they weren’t overly sensitive and didn’t alert me to lane departures when roads were recently repaved.
This is the vehicle for the center of the bell curve. It would be a great first car, it would be a perfect vehicle for a retiree. If you haul bunches of junk the seats fold down and there’s a huge amount of cargo space. It’s good for a young family, it’s good for a sports family and it would be great for a family with teens who love to take road trips. America loves its crossovers and there’s a reason for it. They work with every phase of life.
As always I’m personally very attracted to safer vehicles. I didn’t test the Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection but it’s important. More than important, it can and will save lives. If I get one during the year I think I’ll play with it, not with actual pedestrians but maybe with some cones or something.
The vehicle I drove was priced at $31,110. It was the standard limited package with just some floor mats and a cargo cover added. I think that Hyundai has priced their cars wrong and that there’s significantly more value here than the window sticker suggests.