Hyundai Tucson II, starting our long-term test: Part 1
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Hyundai Tucson II
Sub-$40k starting price
Comfort & lots of tech/features
Familiar & easy to use
High price for this top-spec
Lots of black cabin plastic
Not much else, so far
As far as holiday destinations go, Tucson rates up there with Santa Fe. You’ve probably heard of it, but know nothing about it. At least we can offer the correct pronunciation, phonetically as ‘Too-son’. for both the destination and the vehicle. It helps a little, because the Tucson is one of those cars that you don’t realise is everywhere, until you start driving one.
When we picked up our Hyundai Tucson II, on the first 120km drive from Hyundai in Auckland to Hamilton, I stopped counting at 10… even passing the exact same Series II range-topping diesel model in the exact same Limited spec in the exact same Stargazing Blue. Popular? Exactly!
It should come as no real surprise, however, as the Tucson ranks highly in SUV sales - it was seventh-most popular in 2019 - which is a feat in itself given the number of and popularity of SUVs. As part of an eight-model range that spans 2WD/4WD, 1.6 or 2.0 petrol or 2.0 diesel and three trim grades – standard, Elite and Limited – there’s plenty to choose from to suit a buyer’s budgetary bracket.
Our plan is to spend a few months with the Tucson, in two grades, starting with the range-topper. While the entry level start at $39,990 for the medium-sized SUV, we’ve picked up and started with the other end of the price scale, and at $63,990, that’s a $24k price span to choose the exact price and spec that best suits.
For now, it’s our Limited model; and at first meeting, it seems to offer a lot. Climbing into the cabin, you’re met with electric leather seats, both heated and cooled, a heated steering wheel, and a clean, logically placed layout: wipers on the left, indicator on the right, huge panoramic sunroof above, buttons everywhere.
A large 8.0in touchscreen houses CarPlay/Android Auto, along with a very impressive Surround View Monitor camera that includes rear cross-traffic alerts and multiple camera view options which really helps navigate smaller spaces without fear of scrapes of scratches - the the reverse camera's wide angle really works well, especially when reversing out of spaces - which no 'real' man should ever do... Plus a button enables the cameras manually, which is handy when creeping forward to a tight spot, without the need to trigger the camera with reverse, and when wanting to choose a specific angle.
Radar cruise control and a hands-free Smart power tailgate – that opens a few seconds after standing behind it. Inside there’ also wireless phone charging, and other tech like stop-start, lane-keeping - the latter which works very effectively at slow speeds, when teamed with the active cruise control. An Infinity audio system with subwoofer, plus puddle lighting are both nice touches in different ways, and both rear passenger area and the boot offer large spaces, our model including the very handy boot rubber liner, which we made good use of with a trip to the tip. Towing a small unbraked box trailer with 400kg of junk presented no problems, as the rating is up to 1.9 tonne.
The boot's capacity is large without being cavernous; but its second row of seats fold flat to accommodate some larger things like big boxes or bikes.
Typical of most SUVs, on day two in the DRIVEN garage it was straight into action, shuffling kids around to school/daycare, with some neat spring-loaded covers over the ISOFOX booster seat mounting points eliminating the problem of storing/losing plastic covers. Just a nice touch.
Jump in and go, and the lack of bad habits are notable by their absence, with a soft and compliant ride without being rolly. Pushing harder might induce squeals (from the kids) or screams (from the wife).
At night, SBL – Static Bending Lights, of course - illuminate, making turns into dark driveways or curves more illuminated.
Day three was a run back up SH1, via the Huntly bypass, with fuel use quickly settling to 7.1l/100km. The official combined claim is 6.4l/100km, so we’ll see how that drops over our time with Tucson as the diesel engine gets some km on. Though it does delight the senses to refill and see a range of 800km+ appear on the dash cluster, from its 62-litre tank.
It’s not slow, either, with its 2.0-litre diesel serving up 400Nm, and through its smooth new eight-speed automatic, it does a great job at everything, and is a rather quiet diesel, too. We just scraped under the barrier, recording 9.9 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint, which ijust scrapes under the line that separates slow and decent. A Santa Fe, for comparison, does 9.6 secs; a Kia Sportage is 10.8. Our RAV4 Hybrid long-termer did 7.8 seconds.
It may be all-wheel drive but in true city SUV fashion, the H track AWD system is predominantly front-wheel drive, creating less drag and lower fuel use, until it’s summoned to provide grip or acceleration - or manually selected. There’s also a hill-descent and sport mode, but we’ll look at those another time.
For now, we’ve got a few months with our Too-son to enjoy, and if first impressions count, we’re rather enamoured (though we do mumble the price when someone asks).
And as far as Tucson is concerned, for the record, it’s the second largest city in Arizona, about a day’s drive east of Los Angeles. Now you know.