One of the ten most-searched-for cars of 2015 comes into the Motor1 garage.
If you want to know how successful your crossover redesign has been, just ask Google. I was more than a little surprised recently, when it was revealed that the Hyundai Tucson was amongst the top 10 most searched for cars in 2015. Then again, sharp-looking, right-sized, do-everything crossovers are all the rage right now, and Hyundai’s version obviously ticks many of those boxes for prospective shoppers.
Lucky timing for me then, that I took delivery of the 2016 Hyundai Tucson Eco, just this week. Despite some unseasonably rainy Michigan weather (for December), I was able to compile a reasonable test in this basic Tucson trim. As you might expect, “Eco” here means the fuel-economy leader for the model, but it’s also the most inexpensive variant you can buy with the company’s new engine and transmission combination.
- The turbocharged 1.6-liter four does an admirable job bringing the Tucson briskly up to speed. Even though I had the “Eco” model, remember that this is the same turbo powerplant that’s found in the Tucson “Sport” Both of those descriptors may be a bit grasping, but with 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque – at just 1,500 rpm – there’s more than enough motivating force for a small crossover. Power delivery might not be the smoothest (more on that in a bit) but for catching up with highway traffic and scooting away from stoplights, you won’t want for more.
- Fuel economy, while not class leading as far as the EPA ratings go, was pretty spot on in my test. Hyundai says the Tucson Eco is good for 26 miles per gallon in the city, and 33 on the highway. I drove some 250 miles, mostly around town, and saw 25 mpg in that duty. Instant fuel econ readings for my short highway stints were well over 30 mpg, though they came from the car’s own computer and not a more objective kind of testing. Still, I think it’s fair to say the vehicle can deliver on its estimates if it’s driven reasonably.
- Even in the rather blasé white paint and smaller wheels, the redesigned Tucson looks great. I haven’t been a fan of other Hyundai redesigns (Sonata standing out as my least favorite), but the crisply folded body panels and good road stance work very well. I don’t even hate the black plastic cladding which emboldens the wheel arches.
- For all that I liked the 1.6T, I’m not yet a fan of the new 7-speed DCT that it’s connected to. Part of this is down to the mostly around-town driving I did, where the transmission doesn’t often feel like it’s in a happy place. The unit seemed overly anxious to hunt through its ratios at city speeds, and the transitions between gears was often accompanied by small lurches and hiccups at low speeds, too. I didn’t feel any of that behavior when accelerating more quickly: on bigger roads or up to freeway speeds on a ramp, for instance. Controlling individual gearshifts via the shift lever mitigates the issue, somewhat, but it's not an ideal solution for casual driving.
- I get it, the Tucson Eco is not the luxury model. Even still, the interior here feels pretty rough in terms of materials and surfaces. The cloth seats are fine – though I personally can’t abide beige – if a little flat. But the plastics on the doors and dash feel brittle, and the downmarket rubbery steering wheel seems to have been sourced from a 1990s-era General Motors parts bin. From a functional point of view, everything works and fits just fine, but you can find better base-level interiors for this amount of money.
- Ford Escape
- Honda CR-V
- Jeep Cherokee
- Kia Sportage
- Mazda CX-5
- Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
- Nissan Rogue
- Subaru Crosstrek
- Toyota RAV4
- Volkswagen Tiguan
|Engine||Turbocharged 1.6-Liter I4|
|Output||175 Horsepower / 195 Pound-Feet|
|EPA Fuel Economy||26 City / 33 Highway / 29 Combined|
|Cargo Volume||61.9 Cubic Feet (Maximum)|
|Estimated Lease Price (As-Tested)||$450/Month|
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