Hyundai Tucson Review (2015-2020)
The Hyundai Tucson is a mid-size SUV that’s comfortable, family-friendly and excellent value for money.
Published: 19 January 2023
If your main requirement of a car is that it makes transporting your family members and their stuff as easy as possible, the Hyundai Tucson is well worth a look. It’s the kind of hassle-free car that can cover just about any family situation. Why? Because it’s spacious, comfortable and robust, you can quickly learn your way around it and it takes very little effort to drive.
We’re looking here at the third-generation Tucson, sold new in the UK from 2015 to 2020. It was updated in 2018 with new styling details including a new front grille, plus updated tech including a new infotainment system.
The third-generation Tucson is available in an extensive range of models with petrol or diesel engines, manual or automatic gearboxes, two- or four-wheel drive, and a number of trim levels that run from the value-focused to the rather luxurious.
- Lots of space
- Very comfortable
- Excellent value for money
- Not especially fuel-efficient
- Some rival cars are more fun to drive
- Interior lacks that ‘wow’ factor
Dashboard & tech
When the Tucson was updated in 2018, a new dashboard design was introduced. You can easily tell it apart from the dashboard fitted to older cars (sold new from 2015) because the infotainment system display screen sits on top. In the older cars, the screen is integrated into the centre of the dashboard.
Whichever version you get, you could probably climb into the Tucson for the first time, find all the buttons and knobs and work out what features they control within about 90 seconds. It’s very easy to use but it’s not particularly interesting to look at – there are other mid-size SUVs that have an interior with more of a ‘wow’ factor. A shame, considering the Tucson’s handsome exterior styling.
All models come well-equipped with standard features including air con, Bluetooth and DAB radio. Many models have the aforementioned infotainment system, which includes built-in sat nav. A new system was introduced with the 2018 update that’s easier to navigate – the graphics look more modern, it has more features, and it supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
High-spec models have lots of extra tech, including a 360-degree camera system and an automated parking system.
The Tucson is one of the more comfortable mid-size SUVs. The seats are soft and supportive and most models have heated front seats for an extra level of comfort on cold days. The top-of-the-range models have leather upholstery, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel.
Most people will be able to get into the car without lowering themselves down or climbing up into the seat. The windows are large so the interior feels quite light, especially in models with a glass roof, even if the colour scheme usually consists of multiple shades of grey and black.
All of the plastics and fabrics used throughout the Tucson’s interior feel pleasant to the touch, even if they don’t quite match the premium quality of the mid-size SUVs made by the likes of Audi and BMW. But everything feels very solid and robust, so you’ll have no concerns about the car standing up to the rigours of family life.
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Practicality & boot space
The Tucson is spacious and designed to be as family-friendly as possible. There’s lots of head, leg and shoulder room for those sitting in both the front and back seats, so four six-foot adults fit comfortably. Five adults is a bit too much of a squeeze, though three teenagers should be able to fit across the back seat.
A typical family of four should have all the space they need. You won’t have any issues if the kids are using child seats, either. Installing a seat onto either set of Isofix mounts and lifting children in and out is easily done – the back doors open wide and there’s lots of room to manoeuvre.
Interior storage spaces around the interior include a large glovebox, bins in each door with integrated bottle holders, cupholders in the centre console and back seat armrest, a cubby hole under the front armrest and a coin/phone tray in front of the gear lever.
The Tucson’s boot has 513 litres of space – about average for a mid-size SUV. It’ll accommodate a big pushchair, your pet Labrador or pretty much anything a family is likely to need to carry in the car. The opening is large and square, and there’s virtually no drop from the back bumper to the boot floor, so packing your stuff in won’t be a problem.
Note that models with a full-size spare wheel, which is stored under the boot floor, have slightly less boot space, but their 488 litres is still enough for most people.
The Tucson’s back seat folds down in two parts – in a 60/40 split – increasing the load space to a not-inconsiderable 1,503 litres. This lets you carry flat-pack furniture or garden waste, or perhaps even a double bass. The back seats don’t fold completely level with the boot floor, but there’s only a shallow slope to push the load up.
It’s also worth noting that the Tucson has a usefully high towing capacity. Diesel models with four-wheel drive can tow a braked trailer weighing up to 1,900kg.
The Tucson is quite pleasant to drive. Its steering feels nice and light, you have a good view out from the driver’s seat, it doesn’t lean over much in corners and it gives a smooth, settled ride. Barely a trace of tyre or wind noise can be heard inside the car, which means it takes very little effort to drive, whether you’re negotiating narrow city streets, cruising along the motorway or tackling twisting country roads. It’s not a very engaging experience, but for many Tucson customers, excitement and involvement are unlikely to be priorities.
Parking is easy – there’s a good view out of the back of the car and most models have parking sensors to help you out. Four-wheel-drive models are pretty capable when driving off-road, too. You won’t be able to go as far into the wilderness as you would in a Land Rover but, if you regularly take on rutted, muddy tracks and fields, the Tucson will get you through.
The Tucson gives perfectly adequate performance for this type of car. Models with the least powerful, 113bhp engines can feel a bit sluggish but the other engines give sprightly acceleration around town, happily cruise at 70mph on the motorway and allow you to easily overtake on a country road.
The manual and automatic gearboxes available in the Tucson work well. The manual feels light and slick while the automatics are smooth and respond promptly when you speed up or slow down.
Fuel economy & CO2 emissions
The Tucson’s fuel economy is a bit of a mixed bag, compared to other mid-size SUVs. Some models are capable of giving very good fuel economy, while other models are a bit sub-par.
According to official figures, Tucsons with a petrol engine can give average fuel economy of 37mpg to 44mpg – many rivals can average high-40s. Likewise, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of 147g/km to 179g/km are quite high, though annual car tax charges are still in the lower bands.
The diesel engines can give you an average fuel economy of 47mpg to 64 mpg. The 2.0-litre models are at the low end of that range and aren’t as efficient as directly comparable rivals. However, the top of that range matches the most efficient mid-size SUVs sold by other brands. It’s a similar story with CO2 emissions, which range from 119g/km to 172g/km. Though, again, annual car tax charges are quite low.
Value for money
Hyundais generally offer great value for money and that’s true of the Tucson. You get loads of space and generous standard features in a comfortable, capable, family-size SUV. It was true when you could buy this generation of Tucson new and it’s arguably even better value as a used car.
Reliability & Warranty
Hyundai has a very strong record for building reliable and dependable cars. Indeed, this generation of Tucson ranked near the top of a number of owner satisfaction surveys. It should be trouble-free to own but, if anything does go wrong, you have back-up from Hyundai’s five-year warranty. The most recent examples were sold in late 2020 and early 2021, so they are still covered for several more years.
Safety organisation Euro NCAP awarded a full five-star rating to the Tucson when it assessed the car in 2015. All models have some useful driver-safety features but you get more as you go up the trim-level ladder. For instance, the SE model has lane-keeping assist and a speed limiter, and the Premium model has automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring.
Trims & Engines
The Tucson is available with nine trim levels. The entry-point trim is the S and the top-of-the-range trim is the Premium SE.
You get a lot of features as standard with the S including air con, Bluetooth, DAB radio and four electric windows. But the mid-range SE is the most popular trim in the range. It has extra features including climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors, heated front seats and electrically adjustable lumbar support on the driver’s seat. SE Nav models also have sat nav and a reversing camera.
Go for the top-of-the-range Premium SE and you get leather seat upholstery, ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, opening panoramic glass roof and an automated parking system if the car has an automatic gearbox.
Some extra tech was added when the Tucson was updated in 2018. Most notably, all trim levels got a new touchscreen-controlled infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
You can choose between a petrol or diesel engine in the Tucson. There are two petrol engines: the 1.6 GDi with 130bhp and the 1.6 T-GDi with 174bhp. Despite being less powerful, the 1.6 GDi is more popular – it gives good acceleration for this type of car, though fuel economy is a little below average. The 1.6 T-GDi has more get up and go, but uses more fuel. It is, however, the only petrol engine you can have in a Tucson with an automatic gearbox.
There are many more diesel options available in the Tucson. There are three different engines – 1.6 CRDi, 1.7 CRDi and 2.0 CRDi. Each of those is available with different amounts of power, ranging from 113bhp to 182bhp. The 1.6 and 1.7 are most popular because they can give excellent fuel economy. You can have a diesel engine with a manual or automatic gearbox and some models also have four-wheel drive.
You’ll see that many Tucsons (and other Hyundais) have the term Blue Drive in their names. This refers to a package of features designed to help improve economy and emissions, including a stop-start system. This was replaced by mild-hybrid technology on some Tucson models sold from 2019.
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