2016 Hyundai Tucson outpaces its forerunner – and the competition.
When a new model of an existing vehicle launches, car companies tout all the new features, often comparing them to the previous model. But for most consumers, these comparisons exist in a vacuum. This car is better than the old one because it is quieter? Well, how loud was the old one? This has more cargo space than before? Let me see the before model.
I recently got to experience both the before and after. I was invited to drive the new 2016 Hyundai Tucson in Minnesota, just days after visiting my sister and driving around in her 2015 Tucson.
First that, quiet
The 2015 Tucson wasn’t loud, but the new model is so quiet that another driver on the trip had trouble figuring out if the car was on (hint: the light around the push button start illuminates). I drove, and was the passenger in, both the entry level GLS model and the fully loaded Limited with an Ultimate Package, and each made conversation with back seat passengers easy.
We had the windows open, and, in the luxurious limited model, the panoramic sunroof cracked, and still we were able to hear each other, and the music from the satellite radio.
Lots of options
The Tucson comes in 3 models, from that base GLS model to the more featured SE to the loaded Limited. There are two engine options, including a turbo-charged one that increases power and efficiency; you can also add all wheel drive.
Leather vs cloth
The ventilated leather front seats in the limited model cooled our jets on a hot summer day; the front and rear passenger seats can also be heated. But what attracted me was the special material in the beige cloth seats in the base model. The YES Essentials, a “high performance” fabric keeps seats stain free, perfect for families or sloppy singles. Coffee, milk, juice – they all bead up and can be wiped away easily. The Tucson is loaded with beverage holders, but you keep your coffee there so you can actually drink it – and if you are prone to spilling or dropping, this is the fabric for you.
The technology also helps keep odors at bay – when your kid stealthily spills her milk and you don’t go back in the car for a day or two, the smell is mitigated.
And keep an eye out for this coating – it could one day be incorporated into leather upholstery as well.
Luxury for less
Hyundai is known for including high end touches in value priced cars. The fully loaded limited edition tops out at about $34,000, but it includes a suite of amazing features.
A panoramic sunroof opened up over the entire second row, spilling in light and air and letting us enjoy the sunshine. I wish I had had this when my kids were prone to car sickness – with this much fresh air, they might not have puked so much. And when they did get sick, we would have been able to air the car out more quickly.
The Limited has an 8 inch touchscreen, (it’s only 4 inches in the other models) with a split screen for entertainment and navigation. We could keep an eye on the speed limit and when I tested the nav voice system, I got clear directions instantly downloaded to the screen. The Tucson also has a premium leather steering wheel that was comfortable despite my inflammatory arthritis flare up.
If you are carrying heavy load, or a couple of kids and need to open the trunk, this hands-free opening is, well, ultra handy. If you approach the Tucson from the rear, and the doors are locked, the lift gate automatically rises. This feature is available on every Tucson, from the $22,000 base model to the luxury end.
The Limited has an easy way to lower the cargo floor two inches when you have an oversized load.
The Tucson provides blind spot detection and lane-departure alerts; the Limited model adds pedestrian detection with automatic braking. There is also hill start assist and downhill brake control on the luxury model.
Bluelink – use your Apple Watch
Someone at Hyundai must have a spouse who regularly misplaces the car at the mall. With an Apple Watch and Bluelink, you send a bat signal (OK, Robin, just a regular signal) to your car and it flashes its lights. No more fights in the parking lot. Bulling also lets you remote start your car, along with setting the temperature.
Bluelink is backwards compatible with any Hyundai post 2009. You just have to buy a yearly subscription, which runs around $300 a year.
Nitpicking – where’s the plug?
I was surprised to find just one USB plug in the vehicle, but maybe Hyundai wants to encourage sharing.