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- Classy looks inside and out
- Quiet cabin and refined ride quality
- Innovative automatic liftgate at upper trim levels
- SE and Eco interiors feel low-buck
- Cargo space still a little tight
- Navigation, emergency braking are costly options
The 2017 Hyundai Tucson doesn't live on the cutting edge, but it's an attractive, economical crossover SUV that's worth a spot on your shopping list.
The Hyundai Tucson was recently redesigned for the third time in the compact crossover's history last year, and for 2017 it largely stands pat aside from adding some technology updates inside that are, at least for now, relegated only to the higher-dollar trim levels.
Tucson is available in a variety of flavors that start under $25,000 but can climb quickly with options, although the same comments could easily be levied against rivals like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, and Subaru Forester. Tucson is available in SE, Eco, Sport, and Limited trim levels, all of which are offered with a choice of sunny state front-wheel drive or slushy road all wheel-drive. Popping for all-wheel drive adds $1,400 to any trim level.
We think the Tucson compares well to other compact crossovers, though its performance is a bit more benign that some, and cargo space slightly on the shy side. It earns a 7.3 overall out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Styling and performance
The base SE is the only model to utilize a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with direct injection. Rated at 164 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque, the 2.0 won't win any drag races and it is actually the least efficient Tucson powertrain. If your budget allows, we wholeheartedly recommend opting for the Eco, Sport, and Limited trim levels. They add a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that although smaller, boasts a turbocharger that boosts power to 175 hp and, perhaps more importantly, 195 lb-ft of torque. It's that latter figure that helps motivate the Tucson around with confidence, although even it can feel a little pokey around town compared to the larger turbo motors optional in the Escape and Forester.
Tuscon SEs utilize a conventional 6-speed automatic, while the other models feature as standard a high-tech 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. Opting for the optional all wheel-drive adds a driver-selectable lock that splits engine torque between the front and rear wheels for, say, deep snow, but drivers in all weather will appreciate its torque vectoring that gently brakes an inside wheel to improve hard cornering performance.
The Tucson's ride and handling is less sporty than its looks might indicate, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing for its target audience. Steering and handling through the twisties are predictable and competent, the ride is refined, and the cabin is quiet at highway speeds. If you want your performance kicks, the Mazda CX-5 and Subaru Forester 2.0XT should be on your shopping list instead.
Comfort, safety, and features
On the other hand, the Tucson's cabin is roomy enough for four adults to sit in comfort. Rear seat passengers are treated to good leg room and a reclining seat back. Cargo space is up, but still doesn't match that of some competitors. However, added versatility comes by way of a cargo floor that can be lowered by 2 inches for easier loading of heavy items. Sport and Limited Tucsons offer a power liftgate that can open automatically if the key fob is in your pocket and you stand near the rear of the vehicle. That's a nifty solution, but we still prefer systems that sense a user's foot under the rear bumper.
For 2017, Hyundai has updated the Sport's interior with the nicer materials previously relegated to the Limited, but the SE's inner trappings are lined with lots of hard plastic trim. Regardless of trim level, all Tucsons feel well assembled.
The entry-level SE, predictably, is the most modestly equipped, but even it includes as standard a few delights like alloy wheels, Bluetooth, satellite radio, and a 5.0-inch color touchscreen audio system. Two option packages—Preferred and Popular Equipment—add items like LED running lights, roof rack rails, and a single touch feature for the power windows.
Stepping up to the Eco nets the small turbo motor most of what's in the Preferred and Popular Equipment packages on the SE, as well as special aerodynamic wheels and low rolling resistance tires that improve fuel economy by as much as 2 mpg. The Sport, meanwhile, doesn't actually add anything that lives up to its moniker, but it does include 19-inch alloy wheels, a proximity key that works with the aforementioned power liftgate, heated seats, blind-spot monitors, and rear cross-traffic alert.
The range-topping Limited builds on the Sport with leather seats, an 8.0-inch touchscreen navigation system, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. The Limited is also the only Tucson available with automatic emergency braking, which means it is the only model to qualify as an IIHS Top Safety Pick.
One thing we'd like to see from Hyundai is expanded availability of automatic emergency braking and navigation to models other than the Limited. Most rivals now offer those features at a much lower price point.
On the safety front, the Tucson earns top five-star frontal and side impact results from the NHTSA, and the IIHS has given a Top Safety Pick award to Limited models with the optional automatic emergency braking.