Saturday Road Test – 2016 Hyundai Tucson

2016 Tucson

Hyundai Tucson Limited AWD

Turbo? Oh Yes!!!

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – Could it be? A moderately sized sport utility vehicle that is actually fun to drive?

Brothers and sisters I am here to tell you that Hyundai, the car maker that has made a nice living turning up the wick on its competition, has done it again.

The secret lies under the hood where a 1.6-liter turbocharged four churns out 175 horsepower and 195-lb-ft of torque from 1,500 rpm through 4,500 rpm. It is matched to a fast-acting dual clutch 7-speed automated manual transmission (no CVT thank goodness) that Hyundai said can handle more torque with minimal power interruption throughout the operating range and that, of course, translates to more get up and go. The dual clutch tranny is a first for this segment.

What this gives you is a nice thrust of GO (!) from low speeds, more than acceptable grunt for merging on to interstates and, all in all, several wicks up in the fun-to- drive category.

For those of you technically inclined, the “Gamma” engine features a new water jacket inset that prioritizes cooling in the upper level of the cylinder block resulting in lower cylinder head temperatures and allowing for leaner air/fuel mixtures for better fuel efficiency. Well, okay, it made me feel techie just to include this.

Here’s what it means. Faced with the chance to get around a huge agricultural device on a rural road, (I have no idea what it does,) the Tucson made quick work of the task at hand. (Love that turbo.)

The test Tucson was EPA rated at 24/28/26 mpg and I came away with 26 in a week’s testing in all kinds of traffic (and no traffic) situations.

2016 Tucson

2016 Tucson

The All Wheel Drive system, developed by Hyundai and Magna Powertrain, includes a driver-selectable loc that allows differentiated torque split between front and rear wheels for off-road and slippery road conditions. It probably would not stand up to those recent mudslides on California’s I-5 but it is a measure of comfort now that ski areas are opening in Maine.

Also Active Cornering Control automatically transfers torque to the wheels with the most traction and this reduces understeer and enhances cornering. Handling was on a par for this type of vehicle.

For 2016, the Tucson is one inch wider and rides on a 1.2 inch longer wheelbase with an overall increase of 3 inches in length. One can see the difference where it matters – in the cargo hauling area that measures 31 cubic feet with the seats up, and a hefty 61 cubic feet with them folded, or more than enough for kegs of beer and sustenance for those inviting friends over for the Sunday NFL experience, both the early and late games.

2016 Tucson

Very handy was the Smart Power lift gate. To open it, all you have to do is stand a few feet behind it with the key fob in your pocket or purse. That’s it.

Size-wise the new Tucson is larger than the Honda HR-V yet smaller than the CR-V and RAV4.

Also, it is made of more high strength steel than the previous model and further steps were taken to reduce road noise levels and improve handling. Front and rear suspension setups are now 20 percent stiffer. For those in the operator’s chair, the Tucson feels like one very solid piece of engineering.

If the bank account allows I would recommend stepping up to the Limited trim level with its huge list of standard equipment, improved interior trim, leather and ventilated seats, a six way power passenger seat, dual zone climate control, navi, and more.

An eight inch color LCD screen came on the test vehicle and Pandora and Yelp are already integrated. If you are hungry, you can find restaurant reviews, ratings, hours and pricing. Decide on one pit stop and the system will provide directions without requiring passengers to input an address.

2016 Tucson

There is a 405 watt, audio system with eight speakers, SiriusXM Travel Link with traffic, sports, weather, stocks, fuel prices and movie information. It even reproduces your favorite music! How about that?

Check the right boxes and get the Remote package that helps the good guys find your Tucson if some bad guys have taken it to Flagstaff. Also there is Car Finder that answers the question, where did I park that thing?

There was ample room up front for six footers and the same to the rear. Controls came readily to hand and for the most part were easy to figure out.

With two low cost options, the test Tucson would roll off the lot at $32,510. For your signature on the purchase agreement, you get a fun, well equipped, extremely easy- to-like vehicle that holds its own in the hottest sector of the car market. Consumers can lower their payments by selecting the base SE, Eco, or Sport trim levels.

The new and improved Tucson just may find itself on my year end Car and Truck of the Year list.

2016 Tucson

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