Long term review: farewell to our Hyundai Tucson II 2.0 Elite 2WD
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Hyundai Tucson II 2.0 Elite 2WD
- Looks near-identical to high-spec models
- Impressively quiet and refined
- Hard to fault as an all-rounder
- No adaptive cruise control
- Down on power, which also hurts economy
- Conservative in the extreme
It's fair to say that our long-term Hyundai Tucson II 2.0 Elite 2WD had a hard act to follow. By which we mean our previous long-term Tucson II Limited AWD diesel.
That's a lot of Tucson talk to take in, but basically: our previous Tucson was a fully loaded luxury model with a torquey turbo-diesel engine, 8-speed automatic gearbox and AWD. It was a smooth operator, no question. As it should have been, for $63,990. Gulp.
The idea was always to go from from a high-specification Tucson to something a bit more mainstream and that's exactly what we did for our second term: a move into a model with the entry-level 2.0-litre petrol engine and FWD. Although we did treat ourselves to Elite specification and gain a few goodies.
It's a lot of car for an $18k saving over the diesel Limited. Especially when you consider that it impresses the neighbours in the same way, because it's very hard to tell them apart. The Elite even has exactly the same 19-inch alloy wheels as its upmarket sibling.
Tucson is an important model for Hyundai New Zealand - still its top-seller, which might surprise in an age of the very popular Kona and Santa Fe. It's easy to see the appeal for the mainstream family buyer: the petrol 2WD is easily one of the most refined models in its class, it's ergonomically impressive and very spacious/practical.
Smooth it may be, but the 2.0 won't wow you with its performance. Outputs are modest at 114kW/192Nm, although it's hardly out of touch with others in the class. The Toyota RAV4 2.0 2WD serves up 127kW/203Nm, while the Mazda CX-5 2.0 2WD makes 115kW/200Nm.
We did rather hope that low-key performance potential would translate to excellent fuel economy, but that wasn't always the case. The official figure of 7.9l/100km was do-able on a gentle cruise, but in real-world use the consumption often rose over the 10l mark because the powertrain was working so hard. For that reason alone we'd look seriously at a more powerful Tucson if the budget allowed - because it would be both quicker and more thrifty. The cheapest model with the 1.6l turbo-petrol and 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (replacing the 2.0l model's 6-speed automatic) is only another $2k.
We shared the Tucson around plenty. Editor Dean Evans commuted in it from Hamilton-Auckland regularly and digital writer Andrew Sluys even used it for a Downforce driver-training course. That's right: on-track action for our family SUV (watch the video here).
Manawatu / Wanganui | Palmerston North
$258.10 p/w $1,032.39 p/m
Manawatu / Wanganui | Palmerston North
$290.36 p/w $1,161.46 p/m
Duties also extended to the wider NZME family. Coast breakfast announcer, occasional DRIVEN contributor and family SUV expert (because he bought one with his own actual money) Jase Reeves took over at one stage. Coast cohort and DRIVEN ambassador Sam Wallace respectfully (sic) declined, on the basis that it was four cylinders short and incorrect-wheel-drive. You can't please everybody.
But the Tucson can please most of the people most of the time. It's actually pretty hard to fault as an SUV all-rounder: it ticks every box you'd need it to and in Elite specification it's also well-equipped. The only serious omission is adaptive cruise control (it just has a regular cruise system), which sounds a bit first-world-problemish but the reality is that this tech is increasingly common on mainstream cars (it's on every RAV4, for example) and it's a great assistance/safety feature on congested roads.
The Tucson was a capable and versatile companion for DRIVEN during the second half of 2020. But it's not a car you'd fall in love with because in pleasing so many people for so much of the time, there's little about the design or driving dynamics that's entertaining or challenging.
It probably didn't help that the Tucson shared garage space with newer, more exciting Hyundais on a regular basis, from the futuristic Nexo hydrogen car to the grille-tastic 2021 Santa Fe.
If only we could have the Tucson's considerable all-round abilities in a more character-filled package. And just like that, Hyundai is set to launch a very bold (and we do mean very bold) new model for 2021 that really ramps up the personality. And the power, with the entry model making 139kW. Looking forward to it.