What, No Luxury?!? 2016 Hyundai Tucson Eco Base Model Review

Hyundai Tucson

Even stripped down, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson impresses.

Since I get to drive a lot of new cars, I have become accustomed to getting fully loaded models, with every option available. But then I feel bad for readers who are shopping for a less luxurious model; they read about all the bells and whistles, but get a much leaner car. So I appreciate the chance to test out a basic model, one that will often be the car of choice for those not looking for luxury.

Hyundai Tucson

The 2016 Hyundai Tucson, Lovely From Front To Back. Photo: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

The 2016 Hyundai Tucson comes in four different trims or models: the most basic is the SE; then there’s the Eco, which I drove; the Sport; and the Limited. The SE starts at $22,700, and the Limited at $29,900. The Eco is actually a great deal because it only costs $1,450 more than the most basic trim and it gets 33 miles per gallon on the highway. Even at current low gas prices, you will quickly make up that price differential in fuel savings.

Hyundai Tucson

The range counter on the Hyundai Tucson lets you see at a glance how much further you can drive. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

In fact, we spent much of our 5 days in the compact crossover traversing the Garden State Highway and New Jersey Turnpike, smugly bypassing gas stations since we had plenty of fuel range left. And the Tucson made this easily to calculate; a range counter on the dashboard in miles let us keep track of how much further we could go, and another indicator showed us what mileage we were getting.

Who is this car for

  • Families on a budget who still want technology features
  • Small families
  • Singles or couples who don’t usually drive with more than 4 in the car
  • Eco conscious consumers who value fuel economy
  • Drivers who don’t need all wheel drive

Safety, simplified

Hyundai Tucson

The rear view camera makes parking easy. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

For those who are not yet ready for semi autonomous features like lane keep assist, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson has just two of the most important safety technologies, simply rendered. There is a blind spot mirror within a mirror, which gives you a better view and doesn’t have any annoying beeps or reprimands. And the rear view camera, with colorful grids, lets you park on the street or back up down a driveway safely and easily.

Hyundai Tucson

Blind spot mirror within a mirror. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

Safety that affects other drivers

Have you ever been in an accident where you were making a turn and the other driver admitted, “I never saw you!” The Hyundai Tucson, from the Eco model to the most expensive, has standard side mirror mounted turn signal indicators. This is a feature, like a back up camera, that I hope is one day standard on every car. If the guy behind you is distracted and doesn’t see your turn signal, there is a second spot on the mirror that might catch his eye.

The Eco model also has standard LED day time running lights, which improve your visibility at all times. Again, this is a feature that really should be mandatory in all cars.

What, no navigation?

Hyundai Tucson Radio

The 5 inch touchscreen also has buttons and dials for easy of use. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

Many times I get into a new car and I spend a frustratingly long time trying to decipher the navigation system and trying to get it to understand my voice. The basic model I drove had no nav system (it isn’t even available as an option on the Eco model) so my husband fired up the Waze and off we went. We used it without the voice prompts, which meant no interrupting the Sirius XM radio – refreshing! The five inch touchscreen was simple to use, with both buttons and dials, and connecting a phone via Bluetooth was only a seconds-long operation.

The tilt and telescopic steering wheel has audio, Bluetooth and cruise controls.

Cloth seats that deliver

Hyundai Tucson

The YES Essentials® fabric in the 2016 Hyundai Tucson. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

Sure, leather seats feel great, but they do stain and if you are schlepping your kids around, the standard cloth seats, in beige, are made from a special YES Essentials® fabric that repels stains and controls odors. If you treat your car like a rolling smorgasbord, you can rest easy that any spills will bead up and can be cleaned easily with soap and water. We didn’t have a chance to test the fabric with dog hair (our shedding dog stayed with a friend) but it’s nice to know that if you bring any animal, the smell won’t linger.

Flexible space: we can fit that!

 Hyundai Tucson

Plenty of leg room in the 2nd row. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

Though the Tucson is in the compact SUV category, it has plenty of room; the rear seats split, 60/40, there is plenty of leg room in the second row – even with three adults back there – and the rear seats recline if a nap is needed. There is also generous cargo space and lots of cup holders throughout the vehicle.

Hyundai Tucson

The trunk had plenty of room. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

What I loved

  • Fuel economy
  • Easy phone integration
  • Range counter on dashboard
  • Treated cloth seats that repel stains
  • Hyundai’s remarkable 10 yr / 100,000 mile warranty
Hyundai Tucson

There is only one USB port in the 2016 Hyundai Tucson. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

What you need to know

  • Base price, $24,150
  • Fuel economy: 26 miles per gallon in the city, 33 on the highway; 29 combined
  • Takes regular gas
  • Old school; uses an actual key!
  • Only 1 USB port
  • The car has not been rated for safety
Hyundai Tucson

2016 Hyundai Tucson monroney

Note: Hyundai provided the Tucson for the purposes of this review; opinions expressed are my own.

Judy Antell, who is TravelingMom.com's Free in 50 States editor, lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and... More about Judy Antell