Entry Price: $22,700
Price as Tested: $30,220
This week we review the 2017 Hyundai Tucson, a smaller SUV completely re-styled in 2016 and delivered in “Night” all-black trim. Debuting in 2004 and going through a successful second generation update in 2009, this third generation Tucson features an all-new exterior, 1.2-inch longer wheelbase, better fuel mileage, new turbo engine, revamped interior and 5-Star government overall crash safety ratings.
Featuring more interior room and better fuel mileage, Tucson is built in Ulsan, Korea, and classified as a compact by the EPA. Every 2017 Tucson is a five-passenger crossover/wagon built on a car-like unibody chassis starting at just $22,700 for the entry SE. Tucson for 2017 comes in seven models instead of four last year, including SE Plus at $26,750; the economy ECO model at $24,150; Value Edition at $26.650; Sport at $25,900; our tester Night at $27,800 and top line Limited at $29,775. The AWD versions cost approximately $1,400 more and features Hyundai’s “Active on Demand” four-wheel drive system with an AWD lock feature.
The SE and SE Plus rely on Hyundai’s proven 2.0-liter 164-horse, 151 torque, inline four and six–speed “Shiftronic” automatic. The ECO, Sport, Value, Night and Limited models feature Hyundai’s more powerful 1.6-liter turbocharged four that delivers 175 horses and 195 lb. ft. of torque. Transferring the turbo four’s torque is a seven-speed Eco-Shift dual-clutch automatic that helps in delivering better fuel mileage, more horsepower and enhanced acceleration. The last generation’s 2.4-liter inline four has been discontinued and is replaced by this new turbo four.
Drivetrain aside, Tucson’s updated aerodynamic exterior and skillfully tailored interior is still worth mentioning even though it debuted on the 2016 models. You’ll be impressed with the numerous upgrades and standard amenities including a 5-inch color touch screen with NAV display and rearview color camera, improved dash design, easy to operate entertainment and climate controls, comfortable seating and a bit more rear legroom for taller passengers. Our tester only had one option, a $125 carpeted floor mat kit.
The Night edition, which can be ordered in four colors including white, blue, charcoal and black, features a set of 19-inch Rays black chrome wheels on sporty Hankook tires. The youth market gravitates to all black wheel designs, but for me I’ll take a nice set of chrome alloys any day of the week. Inside, all Night editions feature aluminum-alloy sport pedals, a perforated-leather steering wheel, plus front and rear LED map lights.
Although Tucson used to be the shortest wheelbase compact Crossover in its class, the new generation’s additional 1.2-inches of wheelbase adds to interior and cargo room while delivering a less bumpy ride. On the safety side, when you buy the Night you receive advanced safety technology including blind spot detection with rear cross traffic, ABS four-wheel discs, enhanced rear view safety camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, traction and stability control, lane change assist, electronic brake force, all the airbags, and hill descent with brake control. Your Hyundai dealer will explain all of the high tech safety standard features and options that are available on the other five models.
SE and SE Sport fuel economy is good at 23 city and 31 highway for the front drive and 21 city and 26 for the AWD. The ECO 1.6-liter turbo, however, is the best of the Tucsons considering fuel mileage, delivering 26/32 front drive and 25/30 in AWD dress thanks to more aggressive economy management engine and transmission controls. The AWD Sports, Nights and Limiteds are listed at 25/30 front drive and 24/28 AWD, respectively. In comparison, a 2015 AWD Tucson Limited with the discontinued 2.4 engine delivered just 20 city and 25 highway EPA. This is a big move forward in fuel mileage as Tucson competes in a very crowded small and compact SUV/Crossover market.
The Tucson Night AWD features so many standard features we don’t have room for a complete list. Notables are power panoramic sunroof, roof side rails, Bluetooth, USB and iPod telematics, HomeLink, keyless ignition and entry, YES Essentials resistant to stains cloth seating, console with rear air conditioning vents, hands free/smart power rear lift gate, tilt and telescopic steering, heated seats, leather shifter and so much more. As for stereo info, the standard six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with Sirius/XM Satellite sounds great.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 105.1-inches, 3,686 lb. curb weight, 31.0 to 61.9 cu. ft. of cargo space (up from 25.7 to 55.8 cu. ft. in the previous generation), 34.9 ft. turn diameter, and a 16.4 gallon fuel tank.
Overall, we especially like Tucson’s major fuel mileage improvement and new aesthetic presentation. Although neither of the Tucson engines have power to spare, the turbo-enhanced version does make a difference. I recommend as a starting point the Hyundai Tucson ECO, which costs near $3,700 less than the Night and might be your “best of the bunch” selection. Your Hyundai dealer will gladly explain all model features, along with current buyer incentives and lease specials. Remember, Hyundai dealers are known for generous discounts and/or enhanced trade-in values, especially during this end-of-model-year time period.
In summary, I can’t forget the Hyundai 10-year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty as many other manufacturers nowadays have cut back on this most generous engine/transmission protection.
Likes: Turbo engine, warranty, design upgrades.
Dislikes: More horsepower would be nice, lower levels don’t offer higher tech safety.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other Gatehouse Media publications.