By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 8.3
The 2015 Hyundai Tucson compact crossover SUV gives established players like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape a solid run for their money in style, technology and fuel economy. Available in front- and all-wheel drive (FWD, AWD), its sharp good looks remain modern and fresh, despite the Tucson's many years on the market. Inside there are plenty of high-tech features and a long list of standard equipment at an impressively competitive price, and with Hyundai's industry-leading 10-year/100,000-mile warranty. This year, Hyundai introduces the Tucson FCEV zero-emissions vehicle to limited markets. This electric version doesn't use batteries to store electricity, but is instead refueled with hydrogen to power the fuel cells. The result is EV driving, with only water vapor dripping from the tailpipe.
If you want a sense of style to go with your compact crossover SUV, then the 2015 Hyundai Tucson definitely should be on your shopping list. Nicely equipped and affordable, there's also the undeniable nerd appeal of the available fuel-cell model for Southern California buyers.
If you plan on hauling cargo with your compact SUV, or if you think your ride should be open and airy-feeling, then the Tucson may not be the best bet. Instead, check out the Subaru Forester, which also gets better gas mileage, or the Honda CR-V for cargo hauling.
KBB Expert Ratings
For 2015 the Hyundai Tucson GLS gets a new popular equipment package, while Limited models get standard LED taillights. Southern California buyers can lease a Tucson FCEV for $499 per month, with unlimited free hydrogen refueling and free maintenance.
The 2015 Tucson offers surprisingly responsive handling, with its firm suspension making it fun to drive on all kinds of roads, although some might find it too firm for day-to-day...
... driving. The small size also makes it easy to maneuver in tight parking lots or in city traffic, although you'll want to double-check those huge blind spots before changing lanes. Both 4-cylinder engines tend to be noisy, and we'd skip the base 2.0-liter 4-cylinder for the more powerful 2.4-liter engine so that there's at least competitive acceleration to go with the din. We found the Tucson's 6-speed automatic shifted smoothly and was fairly responsive to manual input. The fuel-cell-powered Tucson FCEV is an electric car that stores its energy in hydrogen instead of batteries, making refueling almost as simple as pumping gas. It drives a lot like other EVs, with lots of low-end torque off the line.
VALUE FOR THE MONEY
The 2015 Hyundai Tucson continues to be a very good value compared to many of its competitors, offering a nicely equipped vehicle right out of the box, with a warranty that's virtually unmatched.
Even though it's been on sale since the 2010 model year, we still think the Hyundai Tucson is one of the best-looking cars in its class.
The Hyundai Tucson offers wide doors and a low floor, making it easy for its five passengers to get in and out. Once inside, the nicely textured and designed interior panels are easy on the eyes, even if they are mostly hard plastic. All the interior's controls are easy to reach and use, and the upscale feel of the beveled window switches is especially nice. The nicely shaped driver's seat is almost as supportive as it looks, but despite the reclining seatbacks, rear-seat passengers might find the low seat cushion height, sloping roof and small windows claustrophobic.
Despite its utility mission, the 2015 Hyundai Tucson is anything but boxy. Its styling looks downright European, with a sculpted hood, aggressive 2-tier grille and wraparound headlights. From the side, the vehicle's aerodynamic shape includes a steeply raked windshield and sloping roofline with rear spoiler. On SE and Limited models, the silver roof rails do double duty: They help accentuate the flowing lines of the vehicle and also carry cargo. This year, Limited models get standard LED taillights.
The base 2015 Hyundai Tucson GLS comes standard with air conditioning, keyless entry, Bluetooth, USB, a tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio and cruise-control buttons, 17-inch wheels, three 12-volt outlets...and the weak-kneed 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. We prefer the mid-level SE, which offers the larger 2.4-liter engine, plus roof rails, heated front seats, heated mirrors, automatic headlights, fog lights, a rearview camera, and a power driver's seat. The top-of-the-line Limited adds leather seats, Blue Link, proximity key with push-button start, and automatic dual temperature controls. All Tucsons come with safety equipment that includes downhill brake control and hill-start assist.
There aren't many stand-alone options on the Hyundai Tucson, with Hyundai preferring to divide its upscale equipment into different trim levels. A Technology Package on Limited models adds a panoramic sunroof, navigation system and upgraded audio system, while a new Popular Equipment Package dresses up the base GLS with a rearview camera, power driver's seat and Leatherette on the seat bolsters. Although all-wheel drive is available across the range, it's meant to improve foul-weather traction. The Tucson is no off-roader.
The base Hyundai Tucson GLS comes with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that, to be honest, isn't really up to pulling this compact SUV around. A better bet is stepping up to the SE or Limited, both of which come with a more powerful 2.4-liter 4-cylinder. Both engines benefit from advanced fuel-injection technology, which improves horsepower and fuel economy, and the 2.4-liter engine can be ordered as a PZEV or Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle, but it comes with a slight reduction in horsepower and torque. A 6-speed automatic is standard on all models, and all Tucsons can be equipped with a part-time all-wheel-drive system.
164 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
151 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/29 mpg (FWD), 21/25 mpg (AWD)
182 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
180 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm (PZEV)
177 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
176 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm (PZEV)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28 mpg (FWD), 20/25 mpg (AWD)
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2015 Hyundai Tucson starts at about $22,500, including the $875 destination charge. The mid-level SE – our preferred model – starts at about $24,500, while the Limited starts a little over $27,000. AWD adds about $1,500 to the price of any Tucson, and if you check every option on the Limited, you'll top out right over the $30,000 mark. Not only do competitors like the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 cost more, but they lack the Hyundai's warranty. If you're looking at the Tucson FCEV, you'll pay $499 per month for the lease. The Hyundai even wins at resale time, beating out historical favorites like the Escape and RAV4. A look at the Fair Purchase Price on KBB.com shows what others are paying for the 2015 Hyundai Tucson in your area, so be sure to check it out before you buy.