With the keys to an all-new 2016 Hyundai Tucson in my hand, I searched Hyundai’s parking lot for my test vehicle. All I could see was a Hyundai Santa Fe, but strangely, when I pressed the unlock button on my key fob, the lights of the Santa Fe blinked. “They’ve given me the wrong keys,” I thought. I was wrong.
It was the new 2016 Tucson. Just to be sure, I checked the badge on the tailgate. Yep, Tucson Limited 1.6T AWD.
From its three bar hexagonal grille, bumper design and wraparound headlight covers to its upswept rear side windows and its inward-tapering tail lights, the 2016 Tucson’s styling is clearly a design grab from the Santa Fe. Hyundai’s marketing gurus must have decided that the family resemblance would help them sell more vehicles. But, I suggest, at the cost of its individuality. Does anybody care? That remains to be seen.
Built on a completely new unit body platform, the 2016 Tucson is smaller than the Santa Fe but larger than the previous Tucson. To be precise, the 2016 Tucson is 35 mm longer and 30 mm wider than the 2015 Tucson with a wheelbase that’s 30 mm longer. It offers a roomier cabin and a larger cargo area as well as a wider track and longer wheelbase to improve the Tucson’s ride and handling.
Compared to key competitors such as the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4, the Tucson is slightly lower, wider and shorter in length – although it looks bigger!
Last year’s base 164 hp 2.0L four-cylinder engine is carried over but the previous 184 hp normally-aspirated 2.4L four has been supplanted by a new 175 hp turbocharged 1.6L. This is on par with most of its competitors with the notable exception of the Ford Escape Titanium with its 231 hp 2.0L turbocharged engine.
Say goodbye to the standard six-speed manual transmission in the base model: a six-speed automatic transmission is now standard with the 2.0L engine while an all-new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is paired with the new 1.6T engine.
The disappearance of the standard manual transmission has bumped the base price up from $21,299 to $24,399 with the now standard automatic transmission, but overall 2016 price increases appear modest given that it is an all-new vehicle with additional features. It’s difficult to determine exact price jumps because Hyundai has changed the Tucson’s trim level designations: instead of GL, GLS and Limited, the 2016 Tucson is offered in base, Premium, Luxury, Limited and Ultimate trim levels. The 2.0L is available in the base FWD, Premium FWD/AWD and Luxury AWD trims while the 1.6T engine comes only with the Premium AWD, Limited AWD, and Ultimate AWD trims.
Cooking with (hydrogen) gas: Test Drive: 2016 Hyundai Tucson FCEV
Our Tucson AWD Limited test vehicle came with the new 1.6L turbocharged four cylinder engine and seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. Though the new turbo engine is down slightly in horsepower compared to the 2.4, it has considerably more low-speed torque: the 1.6T pumps out 195 lb-ft from 1,500 to 4,500 rpm vs the 2.4’s 177 lb-ft at 4,000. Put your foot down and the turbo boost comes on quickly. The new Tucson is more responsive on take-off, when changing lanes in city traffic, when accelerating onto the freeway and when speeding up to change lanes on the freeway.