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Compact SUV Comparison: 2016 Hyundai Tucson

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Totally redesigned with multifaceted appeal.

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Starting MSRP: $23,595

Above Average: Quiet cabin, good materials quality, engaging design

Below Average: Lack of adaptive cruise control, no cargo area rear-seat releases, unrefined transmission

Consensus: A stylish, value-packed alternative to more established nameplates

450 Miles in 61 Words

For more than a decade, the Hyundai Tucson has been widely regarded as a budget buy. No longer content with selling less-expensive, low-cost alternatives, Hyundai completely redesigned its 2016 Tucson into a compact SUV capable of competing with -- and in my cases winning against -- the category’s best. Even more impressive, though, is that it largely maintains its budget price.

A Closer Look

Over the course of our comparison, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson ranked near the top of the test in a number of categories. Fuel economy, ride quality and urban agility were just a handful of areas in which the Tucson stood out from the pack. Plus, it’s easily one of the most attractive small SUVs in the mainstream marketplace. Here's how the Tucson fared across nine primary categories, followed by a deeper dive into each:

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Highway Driving

Steering calibration has long been a weak spot across the Hyundai lineup. And while it may not be the segment benchmark when it comes to steering feel and responsiveness, the 2016 Tucson requires only minor steering intervention at highway speeds. Ride quality leaves little to be desired in terms of compliance and comfort and, in a true sign of the times, the Tucson actually turned out to be the quietest vehicle in our test. Passing and merging maneuvers were uneventful as well, thanks to 195 lb-ft of torque available from just 1,500 rpm.

City Driving

With a turning radius that would put some compact cars to shame, the Hyundai Tucson is an absolute cinch to park. Combined with excellent outward visibility and a large backup camera display, the city is undoubtedly the Tucson’s natural habitat. On the other hand, the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission could benefit from a few years at finishing school. Accelerating from a stop was rarely a seamless affair, and gear changes felt somewhat harsh until the transmission reached its normal operating temperature.

Sporty Driving 

Hyundai's compact SUV can't match Mazda's when it comes to driving feel and fun, but this vehicle type was never designed to thrill. That said, the 2016 Tucson is nonetheless a capable performer when the road begins to twist.

Interior Appeal

The Tucson’s cabin plays home to high-quality materials intermixed with well-shaped seats, symmetrical armrests, and a long-throw steering wheel that produces an impressively natural driving position. The overall look is both clean and attractive, with a strong emphasis on ease of use.

Infotainment

Our test unit’s 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system earned high marks for its physical menu shortcuts and intuitive interface, though reaching them proved to be a bit of a chore for taller drivers set up further from the dash. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come integrated with the 8-inch unit as well, but will not be available until winter 2016.

Rear Seat Room

In addition to reclining seatbacks, the Tucson's rear quarters feature ample headroom and legroom along with a serviceable center seat. Families living in warner climates should note that only range-topping Limited models offer rear air vents.

Cargo Room

The cargo bay, while sufficiently roomy, is one of the smallest in its class. That it lacks rear-seat fold-down levers is somewhat of a disappointment, and the dual-level cargo management system is more gimmicky than useful. Still, we’re big fans of the hands-free power liftgate and rear seats that fold almost completely flat.

Fuel Economy

Returning up to 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg highway, the 175-horsepower, 1.6-liter turbo-4 offers perhaps the finest balance between efficiency and performance in our test group. If balance isn’t your thing, base SE models employ a less efficient 2.0-liter 4-cylinder and conventional 6-speed automatic.

Resale Value

Along with generally lower upfront costs, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson bolsters its value quotient through a lengthy 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and slightly above-average residual values.

Inside and Out: 2016 Hyundai Tucson Limited FWD


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