2019 Hyundai Tucson Review

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
February 25, 2019

The 2019 Hyundai Tucson hot-swaps one of its 4-cylinder engines, and ups its safety game.

The 2019 Hyundai Tucson might have been the infant in the South Korean automaker’s family if it weren’t for the arrival of the new Kona crossover.

Now that it’s firmly in the middle of the SUV lineup at home, the 2019 Tucson clamors for attention this year with a new engine offering, some new technology and safety gear, and an interior that cribs from its smaller sibling.

In the Tucson, Hyundai offers Value and SE trims with a 2.0-liter inline-4, and in SEL, Sport, Limited, and Ultimate models with the 2.4-liter inline-4.

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The upgraded 2019 Tucson fares about as well as last year’s version, with an overall rating of 6.3 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2019 Tucson takes baby steps toward the new Hyundai styling themes in full flourish on the Kona. The front end dons a new grille and new headlights, while the rear slips on some new taillights and minor details are tweaked. It’s careful to not change too much, too quickly.

Inside, the Tucson’s dash adopts the shapes of the Kona, with a lower dash and a big touchscreen that rises from it, instead of nestling in it. In general, there’s a more horizontal emphasis to the lines, an emphasis that replaces the shield-shaped center stack on last year’s edition.

The entry-level Tucson still sports a 161-horsepower 4-cylinder and a 6-speed automatic. Hyundai has replaced the former turbo-4 in the Tucson with a non-turbo, 2.4-liter inline-4 with 181 hp, coupled to a 6-speed automatic. Moderate acceleration rules the day in both versions; all-wheel drive remains an option.

In the past we’ve lighted on the Tucson for lifeless electric steering, but its ride and handling have damped out the worst road surfaces better than many small crossovers.
With no major change to its dimensions, the 2019 Tucson remains a bit smaller than the packaging king, Honda’s CR-V. The Tucson still delivers ample space for four adults. Five—three adults in back—won’t be happy for long rides, but to be fair, when can five adults agree on anything?

The 2019 Tucson adopts the latest safety features in its quest to fend off not just the CR-V, but also SUVs like the new 2019 Subaru Forester. Forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking come standard, along with active lane control. The Tucson can be ordered with a surround-view camera system and adaptive cruise control to go with its standard rearview camera. Crash-test scores are strong, too.

For 2019, the Hyundai Tucson comes with the usual power features, Bluetooth, and touchscreen audio. The base screen now is a 7.0-inch unit, and the Tucson has standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. LED headlights, a rear-seat USB port, and wireless smartphone charging are new top-end features to go with the usual leather, sunroof, and navigation.

6

2019 Hyundai Tucson

Styling

The 2019 Tucson swims in the crossover mainstream.

Hyundai has honed and smoothed the Tucson over time into a handsome crossover SUV, but it’s almost without identifying marks, save for its reshaped front end.

It’s a 6 for styling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2019 Tucson benefits from revamped looks, inside and out. On its front end, the same themes now found on Palisade and Santa Fe crossovers have been etched into its grille and headlights. The new shapes set it slightly apart from other compact crossovers, but we’re not sure it’s an improvement over the prior six-sided grille. It’s a more careful modulation at the rear, where new taillights get their own tweaks.

In the cockpit, the new dash takes on some of the cues of the smaller Kona crossover, to better effect. The more horizontal theme replaces a shield-shaped stack of controls in last year’s version, and it works well and looks handsome, down to the larger touchscreen that sits front and center. Switches and controls have moved higher, in general, and an available smartphone charging pad sits ahead of the shift lever, but the new dash also swells with hard plastic trim.

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5

2019 Hyundai Tucson

Performance

Minus a turbo, the 2019 Hyundai Tucson puts down mild power and serves up an appealing ride.

Hyundai sells drivers some choice in its 2019 Tucson lineup, between front- and all-wheel drive and 4-cylinder engines with moderate and slightly more than moderate power.

Crossovers are rarely centered on the performance part of the driving experience anyway, so we’re fine with the Tucson’s average acceleration, a bit more pleased by its pleasant ride. We give it a 5 for performance in all. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Base Tucson SE and Tucson Value crossovers have carried over Hyundai’s base drivetrain, which pairs a 2.0-liter inline-4 with a 6-speed automatic. Rated at 161 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque, its acceleration and fuel economy are straight up the middle. Price is the selling point with the models that tote this engine.

Admittedly, there’s not much more excitement with the 2.4-liter inline-4 on the upper trims of the 2019 Tucson. Hyundai dropped last year’s 175-hp turbo-4 and dual-clutch automatic for this normally aspirated engine also found in its sedans; it makes 181 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque, but does both a significantly higher engine speeds, so acceleration is smooth but not very strong. The automatic handles shifts cleanly, and unobtrusive acceleration makes the more powerful Tucson less jerky in city driving than the former dual-clutch model—but at a curb weight from 3,300 to 3,627 pounds, no Tucson will set acceleration benchmarks.

Any Tucson can be configured with all-wheel drive, and when it’s ordered, a switch can lock the torque split to boost low-speed traction on slippery terrain.

In any configuration the Tucson handles with predictable moves and without surprise. With struts in front and a multi-link suspension at the rear the Tucson can get a bit too firm when it wears the biggest 19-inch wheels, mostly over expansion strips and blown-out pavement. In most drive modes, particularly interstate cruising, the 2019 Tucson has a settled patter that cushions it well, thanks to softer, tall-sidewall tires which don’t do much for on-center tracking.

The Tucson has a drive-mode selector that adds weight to steering and quickens downshifts, both of which could be default modes for most drivers.

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2019 Hyundai Tucson

Comfort & Quality

The 2019 Tucson fits growing families well, though rivals offer more second-row space.

Each time the Hyundai Tucson has been redesigned, it’s grown a little. In the current model, the 2019 Tucson has ample space in front and for cargo, while second-row space is slightly smaller than competitors.

It’s still worth a 7 for comfort and quality. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

By the numbers, the 2019 Hyundai Tucson measures 176.2 inches long, and rides on a 105.1-inch wheelbase. That’s a couple of inches shorter than most of the crossovers pitched at the same price point, but still substantially bigger than Hyundai’s own Kona.

The Tucson’s base 6-way adjustable front seats have decent support and grippy cloth on most versions. Power 8-way adjustment can be had for both front seats. With an upgrade to leather upholstery, the cushions get flatter but add lumbar support, for fine long-distance comfort. Hyundai also offers cooled front seats and a power passenger seat on more expensive models.

The Tucson’s second-row seat can accommodate two adults, once they’ve reclined the seatback slightly. The default position for the back bench leaves the backrests too vertical for our tastes. Knee and head room are ample, but shoulder space isn’t abundant, so three passengers across the back should be medium-sized or smaller. A heated second-row seat is an option, but all Tucson back seats fold down for expanded cargo space.

The 30.1 cubic feet of storage behind that rear seat is enough for most trips, but rivals such as the Honda CR-V have substantially more to offer than the Tucson’s 61.9 cubes of total space behind the front seats. Hyundai sells a cargo divider that lowers part of the cargo floor a few inches.

The Tucson’s interior has fine fit and finish, with very clearly laid-out controls and without any hint of gimmickry. Base models have some hard, grainy plastics, but the Ultimate model we drove wore its leather upholstery and upgraded trim well.

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2019 Hyundai Tucson

Safety

The 2019 Tucson scores well in crash tests.

Both crash-test agencies give the 2019 Hyundai Tucson good scores, so we will too. It’s an 8 for safety. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The NHTSA says the Tucson merits a five-star overall rating, and the IIHS says it’s a Top Safety Pick. In the latter case the Tucson’s headlights kept it from a Top Safety Pick+ award; in the former, a sole four-star rollover resistance score kept it from perfection.

This year, all Tucsons come with active lane control and automatic emergency braking, though Sport and Ultimate models get a more sophisticated version with pedestrian detection. Stop-and-go control is built into the adaptive cruise control system that comes with the Limited model.

Blind-spot monitors are standard on all but the Tucson SE. A surround-view camera system comes only on the Limited and Ultimate models, at extra cost.

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7

2019 Hyundai Tucson

Features

The 2019 Tucson strikes us as a value in its Value edition.

With six trim levels from which to choose—SE, Value, SEL, Sport, Limited, and Ultimate—the 2019 Hyundai Tucson ventures from bargain territory to somewhat reachy. They’re all well-equipped, and all come with an excellent warranty, but Hyundai bundles features so that options are few and far between.

We give the 2019 Tucson a 7 for features, based on the Value version. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The base $24,245 Tucson SE taps Hyundai’s base drivetrain (front-drive, 164-hp inline-4) and adds in air conditioning, cloth upholstery, power features, a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and cruise control. It’s fine, but we’d move up to the $25,695 Tucson Value, which adds an 8-way power driver seat, heated front seats, keyless ignition, satellite and HD radio, and blind-spot monitors.

We could be swayed by the $26,645 Tucson SEL, which adds the slightly more powerful engine as well as automatic climate control, and extra USB ports. We’d pass on the $28,745 Sport, which adds 8-speaker Infinity audio, LED headlights, wireless smartphone charging, and its own styling touches; we might also skip the $29,945 Limited, which gains leather upholstery, a power passenger seat, and a heated steering wheel.

If you’re going all-in, the $32,595 Tucson Ultimate gets all that plus cooled front seats, heated rear seats, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, and adaptive cruise control.

All-wheel drive costs $1,400 regardless of trim level.

All 2019 Tucson crossovers come with a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty that expands to 10 years/100,000 miles of powertrain coverage.

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5

2019 Hyundai Tucson

Fuel Economy

The 2019 Tucson’s gas mileage suffers with all-wheel drive.

With the Tucson, Hyundai posts decent fuel economy figures that are bettered by some vehicles in its class.

We think it’s worth a 5 for gas mileage. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The base 2019 Tucson draws power from a 164-hp 2.0-liter inline-4 paired with a 6-speed automatic. According to the EPA, this front-drive version earns 23 mpg city, 30 highway, 26 combined. With all-wheel drive, mileage drops to 22/25/23 mpg.

With the new 2.4-liter inline-4, the EPA rates the front-drive 2019 Tucson at 22/28/25 mpg, and the all-wheel-drive version at 21/26/23 mpg.

Those numbers pale next to the ratings for the top Honda CR-V, which the EPA pegs at 29 mpg combined.

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$23,200
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6.3
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 8
Features 7
Fuel Economy 5
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2019 Hyundai Tucson Pricing Insights

  • 2019 Hyundai Tucsons available; 2018s gone
  • Cash: Up to $2,000 in rebates
  • Finance: 1.9% for 60 months
  • Lease: $249 per month for 36 months
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