2016 Hyundai Tucson

Frank Washington | 9/9/2015, 9:30 p.m.
As successful as Hyundai has been the last five years, there’s a flaw and they’re trying to fix it. The ...

As successful as Hyundai has been the last five years, there’s a flaw and they’re trying to fix it. The Korean automaker produces too many sedans and not enough crossover or sport utilities. The 2016 Hyundai Tucson is the first step towards solving that dilemma.

The new Tucson crossover, which just went on sale is a little bit longer, wider and lower than the vehicle it replaces. And in calendar year 2016 Hyundai plans to produce 90,000 of them, almost doubling the estimated 56,000 it will produce this year.

Reason? One in three vehicles sold in the U.S. is either a CUV or an SUV. And while the Tucson held a 4.5 percent share of the CUV market five years ago, today that share has dropped to 2.5 percent. In other words, Hyundai has a shrinking share of a growing market and the automaker wants a bigger piece of the pie.

To do that, Hyundai concentrated on three areas in developing the new Tucson: design, performance and safety. Nothing new there, most automakers will cite similar formulas for developing a new vehicle but for some it is more talk than action.

Not at Hyundai, the automaker really did make some significant changes for the better in the Tucson. It now has optional LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, the new hexagonal grille adorned the front and it had a sculpted hood. There was also an available panoramic roof.

Aggressive wheel arches and available 19-inch alloy wheels and low roof rails were part of a package that gave the 2016 Hyundai Tucson a contemporary sophisticated look. It was not turning heads but it didn’t look dowdy or dull either. LED taillights and a chrome tipped dual exhaust adorned the back.

The bigger engine is now the base engine, the carryover 2.0-liter four cylinder that makes 164 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. Mated to a six–speed automatic transmission, the engine gets 23 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combine.

A premium power plant was the 1.6 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine that made 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque at 1,500 rpm. Mated to a new 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, it replaced the 2.4-liter engine on the older vehicle.

We test drove the Tucson with 1.6 liter engine in all-wheel-drive configuration. It got 24 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined.

This was a great engine. It sounded a little light at idle but it had more than enough power for everyday driving. Our one quibble was that sometimes we felt a hitch in the transmission after we got underway from a full stop.

Sightlines were great, the A pillar had been narrowed so there was no problem seeing the entire road. The seats were comfortable, handling was pretty good although our driving partner thought the steering was a little mushy.

And the vehicle’s range had been increased because the fuel tank was 1.1 gallons larger. It did not matter, our driving route was about 125 miles which moved the fuel needle a little bit but not much.