Hyundai Tucson review (2021-2023)

The Hyundai Tucson is a stylish, well-equipped mid-size SUV that makes a great family car.

Published: 19 January 2023

  • Hyundai Tucson 2020- review

Summary

The Hyundai Tucson should be on your shortlist if you’re looking for a spacious and practical car that’s as good for commuting to work as it is for taking the family on holiday. It’s that kind of ‘do everything’ ability that makes the Tucson one of the best mid-size SUVs.

We’re looking here at the latest, fourth-generation Tucson, sold in the UK since 2021. It’s a distinctive-looking car, not least because it doesn’t have any obvious headlights. But look closer and you’ll see that they’re hidden in the front grille.

The Tucson is available with petrol, mild-hybrid, full-hybrid or plug-in hybrid power, but there’s no diesel option. Most models have an automatic gearbox and some also have four-wheel drive. There are five trim levels, ranging from the merely very well equipped to the really rather lavish.

Pros

  • Huge boot
  • Distinctive looks
  • Lots of features as standard

Cons

  • No diesel option
  • Top-spec models are pricey
  • Low towing capacity
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Interior

Dashboard & tech

As is the norm for many new cars, the Tucson’s dashboard is dominated by large display screens, with one in front of the driver and one in the middle of the dashboard. The driver’s screen shows the usual info like your speed, along with sat nav maps. 

You control many functions by pressing or swiping through the easy-to-navigate menus on the central touchscreen. Below the screen there’s a row of shortcut buttons and the heating/ventilation controls. It might look a bit intimidating if you’re not used to the latest cars, but it’s actually really easy to use. 

Tech that’s fitted on all Tucson models includes sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a rear-view camera. Many models also have a wireless phone charging pad, plus lots of USB ports in the front and back.

While petrol and mild-hybrid models have a conventional gearstick, full- and plug-in hybrid models have buttons to control their automatic gearboxes.

Comfort

The Tucson’s seats are very comfortable. The front seats have electric lumbar adjustment, are heated in many models and even ventilated in the top-of-the-range model, which also has heated back seats. The back seats recline and the back stereo speakers can be turned off if any of your passengers want to catch 40 winks.

Being an SUV, it sits further off the ground than a conventional car. That means most people will be able to simply step in, rather than having to climb up or lower down into the seat.

On the road, you get a smooth and quiet ride. The full- and plug-in hybrid models are particularly quiet when running on battery power.

Quality

This SUV feels solidly made, like it’ll stand up to the rigours of family life without complaint. Most of the materials used throughout the interior are pleasantly soft to the touch, though they don’t quite match the quality of premium-brand rivals such as the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3.

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Practicality & boot space

Interior space

The average family is unlikely to have any issues with the amount of space inside. Head, leg and shoulder room are very generous in the front and it’s a similar story in the back. Passengers about six feet tall have room to stretch out, so even rapidly growing children are unlikely to feel cramped. 

Installing a child seat on either set of Isofix mounts is easy, as is getting the kids in and out. The back doors open wide and you have plenty of space to work in. It helps that the back seat is high enough that you don’t have to bend down while holding a child, unless you’re really tall.

For storage, there’s a biggish glovebox, a cubby hole under the centre armrest, coin and phone trays in front of the gear selector, two cupholders in the centre console and a slot low down on the driver’s side to keep your phone in. The door bins are on the small side, though.

Boot space

This Hyundai has one of the biggest boots you’ll find in any mid-size SUV. However, not every model has the same size boot.

Models with the non-hybrid petrol engine have the biggest boot, with 620 litres of space. That’s enough to cover most people’s needs whether that’s going shopping, carrying a few pushchairs, taking a couple of big dogs for a walk or taking a holiday. 

Hybrid models have a smaller boot because their batteries take up some of the space. The full-hybrid has 616 litres of space, the plug-hybrid has 558 litres and the mild-hybrid has 546 litres. But even that lowest figure beats many of the Tucson’s rivals.

Versatility

There are times when even 620 litres of boot space isn’t enough. For instance when you’ve cleared the garden and need to take all the rubbish to the tip, or when buying a new fridge. But no problem: simply fold down the back seats. They do so in three parts, in a 40/20/40 split, and sit more-or-less flush with the boot floor when folded. 

The boot opening is wide and tall, and the boot floor is virtually level with the back bumper, so it’s not much of an effort to lift heavy stuff in. 

It’s worth noting that the Tucson’s maximum towing capacity of 1650kg is relatively low for this type of car. Many rivals with a diesel engine and four-wheel drive, like the Skoda Karoq, can tow around two tonnes.

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Driving

Driving experience

Around town, the Tucson feels quite nimble, which helps when you need to nip down a side street or manoeuvre into a parking space. You also have a good view out from the driver’s seat and every model in the Tucson range has a reversing camera and parking sensors.

Get out onto country roads and you’ll find the Tucson still feels quite agile. It also gives a smooth ride and the body doesn’t lean over much in corners, so it’s a very comfortable car to travel in. That comfort is maintained on motorways and it feels very stable while cruising along at 70mph. You’ll have no qualms about tackling a very long journey in the Tucson but, if you really enjoy driving, there are other mid-size SUVs that feel more engaging, such as the Ford Kuga.

Performance

The Tucson is available with a wide range of engines, all of which provide sufficient power for this type of car. The entry-point engine, which has 148bhp, feels responsive and reaches motorway speed smartly enough, even when loaded with people and things. The most powerful hybrid models are noticeably quicker when accelerating, which may appeal to you. But you have to balance that against the hybrid’s higher cost.

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Running costs

Fuel economy & CO2 emissions

Available with petrol or hybrid power (there’s no diesel option, the Tucson gives you fairly good fuel economy for this type of car.

With the non-hybrid petrol engine, the Tucson can give an average fuel economy of around 40mpg, with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of around 150g/km. Mild-hybrid models give you fuel economy similar to the petrol engine, but they emit less CO2. 

Full-hybrid models can give an average fuel economy of 49mpg, with CO2 emissions of around 130g/km. Plug-in hybrid models can average as much as 201mpg according to the official figures, though you’ll only get anywhere near that if you regularly recharge the battery to maximise the amount of time you spend driving on electric power – a range of up to 38 miles is possible. Emissions of just 31g/km mean this is the best option if you drive a  company car because benefit-in-kind tax rates are very low.

Value for money

Top-of-the-range models can look pricey but considering the amount of space, the practicality and the features included as standard, the Tucson is very good value. Particularly the entry-point SE Connect which is very well equipped for the money. Mid-size SUVs are generally very desirable, which means demand for used examples of the Tucson is very strong so they don’t lose much value over time.

Reliability & Warranty

Hyundai has an excellent reputation for building solid, reliable cars, which is reflected in the high placings it regularly achieves in owner-satisfaction surveys. This latest version of the Tucson seems to be living up to that reputation – there have been no significant recalls for it and we’re not aware of particular problems surfacing. If anything does go wrong, you have back-up from Hyundai’s five-year/unlimited mileage warranty.

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Safety

Safety features

Safety organisation Euro NCAP awarded a full five-star rating to the Tucson, giving it high marks for protecting passengers in the event of a crash. It comes fitted with a comprehensive set of driver-safety features: all Tucson models have automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, driver attention monitor and a speed limiter. Models near the top of the range also have adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and a system that warns you if oncoming traffic means it isn’t safe to get out of the car.

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Trims & Engines

Trim levels

There are five trim levels to choose from on the Tucson – SE Connect, N-Line, N-Line S, Premium and Ultimate.

The SE Connect is the most affordable trim level in the range, but it still is generously equipped. Standard features include an infotainment system with a 10.25-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and sat nav, as well as a 10.25-inch digital driver’s display, cruise control, two-zone climate control, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. 

Models further up the range get extra features like heated front seats and steering wheel, keyless entry, a wireless phone charging pad, a panoramic glass roof, an electric boot opening and a high-quality Krell stereo. The top-of-the-range Ultimate gets all the bells and whistles, including leather upholstery, an opening glass roof, electrically adjustable heated and ventilated front seats and heated rear seats. 

The N-Line and N-Line S have a sportier look with 19-inch alloy wheels, deeper bumpers, rear spoiler and privacy glass.

Engines

The Tucson is available with petrol, mild-hybrid, full-hybrid or plug-in hybrid power. Whichever type you choose, you get a 1.6 T-GDi petrol engine that’s quiet, smooth and responsive.

In non-hybrid form, the engine has 148bhp which gives decent acceleration around town and on the open road. If you prefer a manual gearbox, this is your only option – all the hybrids come with an automatic gearbox.

With mild-hybrid (MHEV) power, the Tucson has either 148bhp or 177bhp. The more-powerful option has four-wheel drive, which is useful if you live in the countryside and regularly need to drive on roads covered in dirt and mud. The 261bhp plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Tucson also has four-wheel drive and gives noticeably quicker acceleration than the mild-hybrids. However, the full-hybrid, which has 227bhp, is the quickest Tucson. It’s nippy around town, accelerates up to motorway speeds rapidly and cruises at 70mph more easily.

You may have noticed an omission from the engine choices available in the Tucson: diesel. If diesel would better suit your needs, there are plenty of other mid-size SUVs available, including older versions of the Tucson.

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