What's the used Hyundai Tucson 4x4 like?
Rugged, rocky and arid. That’s what the Arizona desert is like, and it’s the sort of imagery that the name of the Hyundai Tucson is intended to conjure up. But don’t be misled: the Tucson is categorically not a hardcore all-terrain explorer.
In fact, it’s a family SUV along the lines of the Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008 and Skoda Karoq, so it's better suited to more mundane tasks like the school run or hauling the family away for its annual holiday. Although, to be fair, such challenges can be just as daunting as a trek through the Santa Catalina mountains.
Until its facelift in 2018, and eventual replacement by an all-new fourth generation version in 2020, the Tucson offered a choice of two petrol engines – a 133bhp 1.6 and a 174bhp turbocharged version – and a choice of 113bhp 1.7 (134bhp when paired with an auto gearbox) and 134bhp and 181bhp 2.0-litre diesels. However, in 2018 the two least powerful diesels were ditched in favour of two new 1.6-litre units, rated at 113bhp and 131bhp, while the most powerful diesel was replaced by a 2.0-litre unit with mild hybrid technology. The option of a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox remained throughout, and this could be combined with four-wheel drive on some models.
The range kicks off with the basic S model (later known as S Connect), which gets you air conditioning, Bluetooth, LED daytime running lights and DAB radio (and, on later models, a touchscreen sat-nav system). SE adds dual-zone climate control, heated front seats and rear parking sensors, while SE Nav adds sat-nav (SE was dropped on the facelift, leaving SE Nav as the next step up from S Connect).
The range tops out with Premium – which provides a few more toys, such as heated rear seats and parking sensors – and Premium SE, with its LED headlights, keyless entry and panoramic roof. There have also been a smattering of special editions with additional toys, such as the Go SE and Sport Edition.
On the move, the Tucson generates a bit of engine noise when you’re accelerating, but it settles to a quiet, smooth cruise, even if you choose one of the diesel models. You’ll find the two least powerful versions to be rather gutless, but go for one of the other two diesels or the turbocharged petrol and you’ll have more than enough power on tap.
That said, don’t imagine the Tucson is a driver’s car. Its steering is very remote, making it hard to tell what the front end is doing, so even though there’s plenty of grip and the body doesn’t lean over too much, it’s not actually that much fun to drive. At least the light steering makes it easy to park.
That the Tucson controls its body well in corners shouldn’t come as a great surprise, because the suspension is quite firm. So while it doesn’t wallow over larger bumps, you also find the Tucson fidgets and shimmies even on smooth motorway surfaces, while at slower speeds, it’s rather too susceptible to an unpleasant crashing sensation over ruts and potholes, especially on the largest 19in wheels.
Climb aboard the Tucson and it’s hard not to be a little disappointed with its interior. It’s a sea of grey plastic, some of it not all that high in quality, and it feels rather cheaper than its rivals', even in the pricier models. For all that, though, it is at least clearly laid out and easy to use, while the touchscreen infotainment system, where fitted, is slick and intuitive.
Space is good all round; there’s loads of room in the front seats, while even tall people will be able to get comfortable in the rear since there's slightly more legroom than a 3008 or Karoq, and is aided by the fact that the rear seatbacks recline. The also split 60/40 and fold, but they don’t slide back and forth, nor are they removable, unlike some rivals’. Slim windows do restrict the view out for young children, and the panoramic roof on some versions cuts into headroom.
The boot is of a similar size to a 3008 and Seat Ateca, but the rear wheelarches do intrude. There are some thoughtful touches, though, such as the handy hooks to hang bags from, tie-down points to strap shopping to and a multi-level boot cover.
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