Is Hyundai's Tucson still the go-to mid-size SUV if resale value, practicality, and longevity are the most important characteristics to you? We spent a week with the flagship turbodiesel model to find out.
In this article:
Performance and fuel economy
The Hyundai Tucson, currently in its fourth generation, broke cover to South African audiences in March this year, but one-day launches obviously don’t allow journalists much time to really get into the nitty-gritty of living with the vehicle in question. A few months later, the turbodiesel model arrived in my driveway for the ultimate test: Serving as the sole mode of transport for a family of four. Here’s how it went.
The Hyundai Tucson’s latest look is far removed from the generic Asian design employed in the previous generations – the new model is glitz, glamour, futurism and tech all rolled into one. It even made its debut in the superhero film, Spiderman – No Way Home, thanks to the brand’s ‘Sensuous Sportiness’ theme which replaces the whole ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ vibe, previously employed.
The most eye-catching feature is the ‘parametric’ jewel shapes that appear everywhere, most visibly in the front grille, teamed with striking hidden headlights. The rear bumper has also been treated to this faceted look.
This iconic new design draws plenty of attention and the overall impression is more premium than upper-middle-class. Colour choices comprise Shimmering Silver, Silky Bronze, Phantom Black, White Cream, Crimson Red and Deep Sea.
Space & Interior
The Tucson’s interior has never been terribly trendy or colourful, which is one of the reasons why it has stood the test of time, just like a camel-coloured Burberry trenchcoat or a little black Chanel dress does.
According to Hyundai, when you enter the vehicle it’s like “walking into a neatly organised room where everyday concerns disappear”. My problems, unfortunately, were not vanquished by the neat and functional interior, but the seamless integration and clean, almost buttonless layout of the infotainment system and instrument display were intuitive and fuss-free to use, enhancing my impression and experience with the Tucson.
With regard to the amount of space, the latest Tucson’s stretched wheelbase translates to more room for rear passengers and a larger boot of 540 litres when all seats are in their upright positions. I was disappointed to see that the rear middle seat only has a lap belt instead of a three-point seatbelt. Even though the Tucson is aimed at small families, sometimes small families need to carpool or have more passengers on board, and in the top-of-the-range model, a lap belt is just not acceptable.
Comfort & Convenience
If you’ve ever gotten into a hot leather seat after your car’s been baking in the sun, the presence of seat ventilation is heaven-sent. This is a standard feature in the Elite variants and is available for the front passenger as well. The two front seats can be heated, too. And, if you don’t like a concentrated jet of cold air blowing on you directly from the air-conditioning vents, the Tucson offers an air diffusion feature which forms part of the three-zone automatic climate control, also in the Elite derivatives. I often utilised this feature for a nice, ambient temperature that works for all passengers.
Front occupants also have the option of using the charging pad instead of plugging in a phone into the system, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto are wireless. Rear passengers have two USB ports at their disposal.
The sound system in the Tucson is also a big step up from the previous, and the quiet cabin also contributes to the impressive sound quality.
Performance and fuel economy
The 2.0-litre diesel powerplant is smooth, quiet, efficient, and perfectly paired with the 8-speed automatic gearbox. Shifts happen quietly and seamlessly.
Power figures are rated at 137kW with 416Nm but the Tucson feels decidedly more energetic when you select Sport mode for a boost of power when you need to get out from behind some or other slow-coach (the 0-100km/h sprint takes 9.2 seconds). Smart mode gives you the best of all 3 worlds (Eco, Normal, and Sport) but we mostly stuck to Eco to conserve fuel, and managed about 820 km on one 54-litre tank. Hyundai reckons the turbodiesel uses an average of 7.9 litres per 100 km, and they’re about right, but if you spend less time in traffic and more time on the open road, this figure can get much lower – highway driving saw it drop down to 5.4 l/100 km on the local launch.
As usual, road-holding is excellent and the drive is smooth and supple.
The highlight of my time in the Tucson was the easy-to-use semi-autonomous driving tech. I am a huge fan of Volvo’s Pilot Assist and the self-driving tech in BMW is almost just as good, but both of these brands are the pricier premium types so they’d have to be very skilled in this department anyway.
The Tucson’s skill at recognizing road markings and reacting to other traffic, left me very impressed. In the Elite models, there’s an array of sensors, cameras, and radar for almost-autonomous driving. Instead of taking a moment to figure out how to activate the adaptive cruise control and related functions, I pressed a button or two and there it was – smart cruise control, lane follow assist, lane keeping assist, and autonomous emergency braking which is always on anyway. It’s an absolute cinch to use and I did not expect this level of sophistication. Other functions include rear-cross traffic alert/collision assistance that will brake the Tucson if a road user passes behind the rear of the car, as well as high-beam assistance and directional turning headlights.
Executive models have audible blind-spot monitors and a rear-cross traffic alert function that will also beep to warn you of oncoming traffic from behind.
|Model||Price (incl. VAT)|
|Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Premium||R539 900|
|Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Executive||R589 900|
|Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Elite||R655 900|
|Hyundai Tucson 2.0D Elite||R719 900|
The fiercest competition comes in the shape of the suave new Kia Sportage, but the Tiguan, RAV4, and Peugeot 3008 all offer an attractive skillset. The RAV4 2.5 Hybrid GX-R E-Four (R676 700), specifically, is priced right and will save you plenty of fuel at the pumps.
If you’re dead keen on a diesel, the Nissan X-Trail 1.6dCI 4×4 Tekna will set you back R650 000.
The diesel Tucson is an accomplished vehicle which hasn’t only grown in sophistication but has become a bit of a bombshell as well. The flagship model, however, is getting a little pricey, but premium packages never come cheap. The Tucson, as always, is a safe bet, but now that it’s this attractive, it’s even better.
Ané AlbertseAné was bitten by the motoring bug at a very young age. Her mom recalls her sitting in her stroller as a 3-year old, naming every car that came past. She was working as a freelance motoring journalist for publications such as Rapport and City Press, when AutoTrader nabbed her for good. She lives in the Western Cape with her two kids and two cats.View News & Reviews
Keyword: Hyundai Tucson (2022) 2.0D Elite Review