“Everything that matches the 2016 Tucson to an active lifestyle applies just as meaningfully to empty nesters and retirees.”
by Rob Rothwell
Halfmoon Bay, B.C.
Hyundai’s all-new compact Tucson crossover is aimed squarely at pre-family buyers living active lifestyles.
But I’ve got a tip for those drifting into a greyer reality; it’s an ideal vehicle for you too.
Everything that matches the 2016 Tucson to an active lifestyle applies just as meaningfully to empty nesters and retirees, whether their activity includes walking the pooch or sailing above the surf on a kiteboard.
While Hyundai’s advertisements for the Tucson feature square-jawed athletic dudes with defined stubble and bronze skin, it doesn’t mean they don’t intend to sell the snappy crossover to folks like me, on the dark side of fifty.
For marketing purposes, my likeness won’t favour sales. You see, I’m told by those in the biz that you can sell a young man’s car to an old man but not the other way around; this applying equally to women.
While my future as a sales prop is only slightly more certain than winning Lotto Max without buying a ticket, I enjoyed my day behind the wheel of the new Tucson. The meandering route allowed my driving partner and me to explore the many bays and coves along British Columbia’s idyllic Sunshine Coast.
It’s in this sort of environment that the 2016 Tucson will have older buyers admiring its exceptional level of operational refinement and day-long serenity. It delivers a near-premium driving experience, though not a particularly exciting one.
A smooth, absorbent ride was clearly more the priority than searing performance in the corners and on the straightaways, and that’s fine by me.
In redesigning the Tucson, Hyundai engineers focused on all aspects of quality in addition to refinement and styling. The latter of which has given us a vehicle longer, lower, and wider than its predecessor.
Aboard the Tucson, one is immersed in a well thought-out cabin transmitting a sense deportment that was sadly lacking in the former execution. Today’s version is as accurately assembled as the best of them in the fiercely competitive compact crossover segment.
While Hyundai’s soft-touch surfaces and intuitive architecture are praiseworthy, it’s the larger slice of ‘content’ pie which they serve that sets the Tucson apart from its contemporaries under competing nameplates.
“More for less” has always been a Hyundai hallmark, and the Tucson adheres to the credo with its outstanding list of standard and near-standard features, including safety tech such as Blind Spot Detection with Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection.
Thoughtful touches include heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, dual-level cargo floor, and a remarkably convenient Proximity power liftgate. The latter opening by merely sensing the key in proximity of the liftgate for three seconds.
No longer can the Tucson be considered an entry-level crossover despite its modest across-the-board increase of roughly $400. The upscale climb includes the availability of an optional 1.6L turbocharged I-4 GDI engine harnessed to a segment-exclusive 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT).
The turbocharged mill fortifies the AWD Tucson with 175 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque, and is the obvious choice for passing-lane adherents. The base 2.0L I-4 GDI (required with FWD) is the powerplant of choice for the modest. It shells out 164 horsepower and 151 lb.-ft. of torque through the auspices of a six-speed autobox.
Three drive modes – Eco, Normal, and Sport – enable drivers to tweak engine response, shift mapping, and steering resistance, to correspond with the mood of the day. I really didn’t find a need for Sport mode, largely enjoying the Normal setting most.
After spending a day administering the turbocharged and non-turbocharged Tucson variants, I departed the Sunshine Coast with the view that Hyundai has raised the bar for refinement, comfort, and value in the compact crossover segment. Albeit, handling dynamics and sheer athleticism may still belong to the likes of Mazda’s CX5.
Pricing FWD: $24,399 – $26,999
Pricing AWD: $31,549 – $39,599
Base engine: 2.0L I-4, GDI 164 hp. / 151 lb.-ft. torque
Optional engine: 1.6L turbocharged 1-4 GDI, 175 hp. / 195 lb.-ft. torque
Combined city/highway fuel economy: base engine 9.0L/100km, optional engine 9.2L/100km
Seating capacity: 5
Cargo capacity: 877 litres