If you’re in the market for a small SUV, most people with experience of the sector are likely to point you in the direction of the Nissan Qashqai. Many rival SUVs try to out-perform this well-regarded model, but few come close.
The new Hyundai Tucson is the latest to try. It is a slightly larger replacement for the car maker's ix35 and is offered with a selection of engines, two- or four-wheel drive, automatic or manual transmissions and a wide range of equipment.
Prices for the new Tucson start at £18,695 but the version reviewed here – a mid-spec SE Nav with the entry-level 1.7-litre diesel engine – costs £22,795. That’s a fair price, especially when you consider that it comes with lots of kit and a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty.
What’s the 2015 Hyundai Tucson SE Nav 1.7 CRDi like to drive?
The 1.7-litre diesel in the Tucson isn’t particularly powerful but, on the open road, it doesn’t feel much slower than the more expensive 2.0-litre diesel. It’s also quieter and smoother, which those people undertaking longer trips will appreciate.
The engine drives the front wheels via a slick, six-speed manual gearbox. It provides adequate punch, pulling with enough vigour from lower speeds to not feel lethargic. The car stops easily, too; the brakes neither snatch nor grab. This helps to keep low-speed driving smooth.
An equally pleasant surprise is that the Hyundai steers and rides in a smooth and composed fashion. Admittedly, the steering is a little vague around the dead-ahead position but, otherwise, it’s precise and well weighted. In short, the Tucson is a very easy car to place on the road, and parking it is a piece of cake.
There’s more good news regarding running costs. The 1.7 is, naturally, more efficient than the 2.0. Hyundai claims it averages 61.7mpg and emits 119g/km of CO2, compared with the 2.0-litre's 54.3mpg and 127g/km. So, as well as small savings on the fuel front, it costs £80 a year less to tax.
A 62-litre fuel tank gives a potential range in the region of 840 miles. During our test, however, the 1.7 returned an indicated average of 46.7mpg, equal to a range of 630 miles.
What’s the Hyundai Tucson SE Nav 1.7 CRDi like inside?
The Tucson's cabin is pleasant, spacious and durable, but not particularly interesting. In the front, you’ll find plenty of room, comfortable seats and a sensibly laid-out dash. All of the controls are easy to identify and use, while a good number of storage places means you won’t be struggling to find anywhere to stow your valuables. There’s a wide range of seat adjustment and the steering column adjusts for rise as well as reach, so it’s easy to find a decent driving position.
In the back, the Hyundai once again majors on space. Even with a six-foot-tall driver in place, the passenger behind them won't be short of leg room. There’s plenty of room for three to sit abreast on the back seats. The central tunnel is low and wide, allowing the middle passenger to comfortably rest their feet on it. It’s just a shame that, for shorter passengers, the view out of the vehicle is restricted by narrow, high-set rear windows.
The large boot, complete with tie-down points and bag hooks, should be roomy and practical enough for most users. The rear seats split and fold easily, too. The standard-fit, full-size spare wheel is a reassuring touch.
The SE Nav has lots of standard equipment including heated seats, dual-zone climate control, electrically heated and folding mirrors, cruise control, parking sensors, a reversing camera and an 8.0-inch media and navigation system. There are numerous other neat features, too, such as a cooled glovebox. However, while build quality feels generally good, many of the plastics are hard and unattractive.
Should I buy one?
While not class leading, the new Hyundai Tucson is worthy of closer inspection by anyone seeking a practical, cost-effective small SUV.
It’s a great choice in this SE Nav specification, and a very tempting alternative to mainstay models such as the Nissan Qashqai and Ford Kuga. Factor in elements such as its long standard warranty and its appeal only increases.
What Car? says...
Engine size 1.7-litre diesel
Price from £22,795
Torque 207lb ft
0-62mph 13.7 seconds
Top speed 109mph
Fuel economy 61.7mpg