What Car? says...
The name of the Hyundai Tucson might well make you think of the big skies, wild frontiers and gunslingers of Hollywood Westerns, and that's actually quite appropriate for this family SUV.
You see, the latest Tucson finds itself in the middle of a gunfight – and needs to be darned quick on the draw to see off all the rivals in this highly competitive car class.
To help it out, Hyundai has given the model some fresh green credentials to crow about. It's available as a full hybrid and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and the standard petrol engines can be had with mild-hybrid technology (there are no diesel engines in the range).
There’s also a range of trim levels to choose from, including the sportier-looking N Line versions, and the posh Premium and Ultimate models.
So, when all’s said and done, is the Hyundai Tucson a good enough family SUV to ride off into the sunset, or will you want to leave it stabled? We've driven it, and in this review we'll tell you how we rate the model, covering performance, boot size, interior quality and more.
We'll find out whether it wins that shoot-out with its rivals too. They include the Ford Kuga, Kia Sportage, Peugeot 3008, Seat Ateca and Skoda Karoq as well as premium brand offerings such as the BMW X1 and Volvo XC40.
And we'll tell you which trim and engine combination we prefer, and give you a good indication of how kind to your wallet the running costs will be.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The entry-level Hyundai Tucson engine is the 148bhp 1.6 T-GDi 150 petrol, which comes with a manual gearbox and can hit 0-62mph in 10.3sec. If you upgrade to the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox you get 48-volt mild-hybrid (MHEV) tech, making it slightly faster, although the auto 'box needs a moment of thought before it gives you a slug of acceleration. There’s a more powerful MHEV, the 178bhp T-GDi 180, which has an auto 'box and four-wheel drive, and can officially do 0-62mph in 9.0sec.
Further up the range is a full hybrid, the 227bhp 1.6 T-GDi 230 Hybrid. The battery is big enough for short bursts of electric driving in stop-start traffic. With the engine and motor combined, there’s plenty of pep for overtaking, with its 0-60mph time of 6.8sec beating the Kia Sportage and Ford Kuga when we tested it on a track. The six-speed dual-clutch auto 'box is hesitant, though.
For even more electric running, there's the range-topping 1.6 T-GDI Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV), which gets 261bhp and four-wheel drive, and will do up to 38 miles on electricity alone. That’s one of the better electric-only ranges you’ll find in a PHEV family SUV although the Sportage can officially manage more than 40 miles and the Kuga PHEV runs it close. It’s fast enough to feel fun, and is super slick to drive in EV mode, but, again, its six-speed auto box is a bit hesitant.
Suspension and ride comfort
The Tucson rides softly at low speeds and over gentler undulations with reasonable aplomb, but it is more jarring over sharper potholes and ridges than cars with a bit of extra ‘give’ in their springs, such as the Skoda Karoq and Volvo XC40.
It also tends to rock about over uneven surfaces and struggles to settle down on a motorway. That's especially pronounced on the 19in alloy wheels you get with N Line and Ultimate models, or if you go for Premium trim with the heavier hybrid and PHEV engines (other Premium versions get 18in wheels).
Entry-level SE Connect models are the most pliant as they come with smaller 17in wheels with plumper tyres, which help to round off sharper abrasions.
The relatively small steering wheel and light weighting create an early sense that this will be a spry thing, but it’s not. When you’re driving sedately, it flows along happily enough, but if you push harder, the steering doesn’t feel particularly reassuring because you find it’s not that easy to place accurately on the road.
The balance of the grip between the front and rear wheels isn’t as cohesive as it is in the Seat Ateca, Kia Sportage or VW Tiguan. They don’t lean as much, either, making them more stable, agile and engaging to drive spiritedly.
Noise and vibration
At low speeds, the Tucson is pretty good in this respect. The ability of the 1.6 T-GDi 230 Hybrid to run in electric mode over short distances makes it hushed in town, while the petrol engine is quiet when it’s running. The PHEV is much the same and stays in electric mode for significantly longer when the battery is charged up. The MHEV is hushed too, and while it can’t run on electricity alone, it can cut its engine while you’re coasting.
There’s a fraction more wind noise on a motorway than in the XC40, while there’s more road noise than in the Kuga and Sportage. The suspension twangs over expansion joints, while a light vibrating buzz filters up at times through the steering column.
The brakes on the Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid versions are a bit fickle when it comes to their progression because of the 'regen' system, which feeds energy back to the battery as you slow down. That said, we’ve driven hybrids with more abrupt brakes. It wasn’t as stable when coming to a halt as the Kuga or Sportage in our high-speed braking tests, though.
Strengths Full hybrid versions offer lively performance; rides well on 17in wheels; very hushed around town
Weaknesses Feels unsettled at speed if you go for bigger alloys; some rivals are more agile and composed
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
The Hyundai Tucson’s driver’s seat isn’t as high up as the one in the Volvo XC40 – something to think about if you’re after that lofty SUV driving position. It is supportive through corners and comfortable on long journeys, though, thanks to standard-fit electrically adjustable lumbar support.
If you go for range-topping Ultimate trim, you get a fully electric driver’s seat with memory function. There’s also a superbly placed armrest on top of the centre console and another, matching it, on the driver’s door.
A 10.3in digital instrument cluster is standard and is easy to read at a glance. All the buttons on the dashboard are positioned closely around you, too, although most are touch-sensitive rather than being press-buttons, and as such, it’s tricky to operate them by feel. You might need to take your eyes off the road to find and use them. The button-operated gear selector makes it easier to use than nudging a gear lever, though.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
The Tucson's front pillars aren’t thick, but because they’re set at quite an angle, they get in your way a little through tighter corners or at T-junctions. The rear pillars are huge, so you’ll almost certainly end up relying on the parking aids. Thankfully, rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera are standard (they are on most Hyundais), while N Line models introduce LED headlights and front sensors.
If you tick the box for the optional Tech Pack, you gain a 360-degree camera and a system called a Blind Spot View Monitor (BVM). The BVM system is rather unusual: when you flick the indicator on, a camera feed shows you an image of what’s in your blind-spot in the digital instrument display. It's a potentially handy addition, requiring a simple glance down at the instruments while swapping lanes.
Sat nav and infotainment
All versions get an infotainment system with a 10.3in touchscreen that’s as crisp as the best flatscreens and has smart graphics. The menus are straightforward and the software is generally more responsive than in the Peugeot 3008 and the XC40, if not quite as snappy as the best touchscreens, including the ones you get in the Skoda Karoq and VW Tiguan. The icons could be a little larger to make them easier to aim for, too.
Hyundai’s penchant for giving you lots of kit means sat-nav, Bluetooth connectivity, DAB radio, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring come as standard. Moving up to Premium trim adds wireless phone-charging and an eight-speaker Krell premium sound system.
The upholstery on the Tucson's SE Connect and Premium trims feels quite cheap, while the glossy panel for the climate control system looks a little low-rent. Otherwise, the interior materials feel good to touch. They're soft and dense where it counts, and the buttons come with a well-damped action. It’s better overall than the Tiguan’s interior, which has more hard plastics throughout.
The dollop of premium panache that you get in, for example, the XC40 is missing, though. The plastic sheen to the Tucson’s leather seats and the faint flex when you lean against its centre console see to that.
Strengths High driving position; supportive and comfortable seats; infotainment system looks smart and is packed with features
Weaknesses Thick window pillars cause visibility issues; climate control panel could be classier
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
If you ate all your greens as a kid and went on to grow up as tall and strong as everyone said you would, the Hyundai Tucson’s generous proportions will see you right. There’s plenty of leg room, plus at least as much head room as any family SUV offers. It also feels broader and airier than many rivals, including the Peugeot 3008.
The front door bins are on the small side, but the roomy glovebox and various trays and cubbies strewn about mean you won’t struggle to hide your paraphernalia.
The rear seats are great for taller folks, so if you regularly ferry around adults as well as youngsters, this is definitely one to check out. It will take two six-footers comfortably, even with the front seats slid well back. There’s lots of room for their feet under the front seats and the head room is excellent.
When you add a passenger to the narrow middle seat, things get a bit pinched, mainly around the shoulders, if all the passengers are burly adults. The Ford Kuga offers a little more space for feet on either side of a small hump on the floor. The rear door bins are small, with just about enough room for a 500ml bottle in each, but there's a fold-down armrest in the middle with integrated cupholders.
Seat folding and flexibility
The rear seats don’t slide back and forth as they do in the Kuga and VW Tiguan but they do recline so your passengers can snooze.
The back seats fold down in a very useful 40/20/40 split, helping to maximise the space available for passengers and any longer pieces of luggage. You’ll have to go for top-spec Ultimate trim to get handy remote levers just inside the boot to fold the rear seats down, though. All versions of the Kuga and the Kia Sportage have those.
At up to 620 litres, the Tucson’s boot is among the biggest you’ll find in the family SUV class. However, it’s worth noting that the batteries of the hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) versions erode some of that capacity (hybrid models have 577-litre boots while PHEVs have 558 litres). We still managed to fit seven carry-on suitcases below the parcel shelf of a PHEV, though. That’s up there with rivals including the Volvo XC40 and BMW X1.
The wheel arches intrude a little, but the boot is still usefully wide and the floor sits flush with the bottom of the tailgate opening. There’s also a bit of underfloor storage in most models, although the Plug-in Hybrid sacrifices that to the battery pack. Higher spec N Line S and Ultimate trim adds a handy electric tailgate.
Strengths Loads of leg and head room for four; rear seats recline; boot is one of the biggest in the family SUV class
Weaknesses The rear seats don't slide; life is less comfortable for a central rear passenger
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The Hyundai Tucson comes with plenty of kit as standard, but you do pay for that privilege. It commands a higher starting price than the Seat Ateca and Skoda Karoq but costs close to the VW Tiguan. The upper trim levels push the Tucson into the premium territory occupied by the Volvo XC40, BMW X1 and Range Rover Evoque. And while the Evoque will be limited to a diesel engine at this price, it holds on to its value far better.
The plug-in hybrid's low CO2 figure of of 31g/km and competitive 38-mile official electric range will make it the cheapest option as a company car. When the battery is empty, you can expect around 36mpg from the 1.6-litre petrol engine. The 1.6 T-GDi 230 Hybrid version produces as little as 127g/km putting it in a reasonable tax bracket that’s around 5% lower than the entry-level petrol 1.6 T-GDi 150 manual. The MHEV automatic produces 144g/km.
The 1.6 T-GDi 230 Hybrid is our pick for private buyers. It clocked up 49.6mpg in official testing and we managed just over 40mpg in a real-world test. That’s not as good as some diesel family SUVs but it compares well with a lot of the petrols. The MHEV isn’t quite as frugal, but mid to high thirties MPG is easily achievable if the trip computer is to be believed.
Equipment, options and extras
Entry-level Tucson SE Connect models come generously equipped, with 17in alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control and cruise control, plus the driver-side electrically adjustable lumbar support and infotainment system.
N-Line models bring sportier exterior styling, heated seats, ambient lighting and LED headlights. If you want a few more goodies, it’s well worth taking a look at Premium trim. A relatively small jump up in price gives you larger 18in wheels (19in on Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid Premium models), a black two-tone roof, adaptive cruise control, an eight-speaker Krell premium sound system and additional safety features.
Luxurious range-topping Ultimate trim completes the line-up, with 19in alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, three-zone climate control, an electric tailgate and much more besides. However, that pushes the Tucson’s list price close to the plusher Range Rover Evoque and Volvo XC40.
You get a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty. That’s better than most rivals offer, with the exception of Kia, which covers you for up to seven years.
Safety and security
The latest Tucson achieved the highest five-star safety rating when it was tested by Euro NCAP in 2021. Airbag protection for the driver’s chest in a front collision was rated as marginal, but the car performed well everywhere else. There’s plenty of safety kit as standard to help you avoid an accident in the first place.
For example, every Tucson comes with automatic emergency braking (AEB), a driver attention warning system, speed-limit recognition and trailer stability assist. You also get a system that will automatically apply the brakes after a collision to ensure you don’t roll forwards and have a secondary impact.
Stepping up to Premium trim adds a blind-spot warning system and rear-cross traffic alert, while range-topping Ultimate models get a Highway Drive Assist feature that adjusts your steering for you in order to keep the car centred in your chosen lane (you must keep your hands on the wheel, though).
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Strengths Very well equipped; Hyundai has an excellent reliability record; unlimited mileage warranty lasts for five years
Weaknesses More expensive than plenty of rivals; mild hybrid isn't especially efficient
We recommend the powerful and economical 1.6 T-GDi 230 hybrid engine and the SE Connect trim level. Read more here
N Line trim is one rung up the Tucson ladder from Premium trim. It's more expensive, comes with a lot more equipment and has a sportier look inside and out. For example, you get body-coloured wheel-arch surrounds and twin-tipped exhaust pipes, as well as racy alloy pedals and an N-branded steering wheel. Read more here
In short, pretty impressive. You get a large, crisp 10.3in touchscreen with smart graphics, and the menus are straightforward to navigate, helped by responsive software. It has built-in sat-nav, DAB radio, Bluetooth, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay phone connectivity. Read more here
It varies from 558 litres to 620 litres depending on which engine you choose. The plug-in hybrid (PHEV) has the smallest boot, but we still managed to fit in seven carry-on suitcases. You’ll find a bit of extra storage beneath the floor in all versions except the PHEVs. Read more here
|RRP price range||£31,500 - £44,630|
|Number of trims (see all)||5|
|Number of engines (see all)||4|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol, hybrid|
|MPG range across all versions||201.8 - 50.4|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||5 years / No mileage cap|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£921 / £2,858|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£1,843 / £5,716|