I own and drive a 2010 Hyundai Tucson CRDi, and I love it. It's a roomy family car that can give me both speed and impatient torque when the kids aren't in the back seat. It has a few issues I've learnt to forgive like a bouncy rear suspension and the lack of many creature comforts of pricier vehicles. Love your own, right? I've been really happy with it - until now.
Hyundai delivered to us the 2016 CRDi Tucson, and was parked right beside my old 2010 variant, and oh my god! It is a handsome CUV. Our older Tucson seems like it was designed, by the looks, to be driven by the wife, which I am obviously not, but with the responsiveness of a car for an impatient man, which my wife isn't. It doesn't have a proper personality or single purpose -- like a freshman in college who doesn't know whether his chosen course fits himself.
The 2016 design, however, looks angry and tense. When I stare at it, it looks ready to pounce. Out are the soft curves and in are more purposeful lines with corners where they matter. Even the headlights look like a naughty up-to-no-good boy's eyes.
When I got into the driver's seat, I couldn't help but notice all the extras I shouldn't be seeing like the ginormous moon roof, and cooled or heated front seats. This vehicle was no longer the same one it was from 2010. This is luxury.
Quietly sitting in the driver's seat while curiously looking at all the buttons around me, I thought to myself, "This can't be standard", and I was right. This in fact is Hyundai's launch unit. As some of you may know, not all such units follow the local spec sheet. Nonetheless, I'd rather enjoy this sensationally specced Tucson.
Looking at each and every button, I checked out the ones my previous model didn't have. Drive mode allows you to choose between Normal, Eco, and Sport mode. Hill descent, auto hold, and parking sensors, check! On the steering wheel, there's cruise control for long trips and proper hands-free calling once you've paired your phone with the entertainment system, which also allows playing music, podcasts, audiobooks, and any other audio media. Folding side mirrors and a power lift gate are now also activated simply with a push of a button. This is creature comfort heaven. Oh, there's a start button too, which indicates that this has a keyless entry system.
Putting your luggage in the boot and getting in the car no longer requires fishing around for the keyfob amidst all the coins in your pocket. Walk close to the trunk and the Tucson will beep a few times to let you know it will open in a bit. Step close to the door and the side mirrors unfold on their own and the lights below the door handles illuminate.
The ride. Compared to my 2010 Tucson, this 2016 model is more mature and comfy, thanks to its refined ride. Don't get me wrong. It still has the torque and the speed, but Hyundai was able to make the ride much smoother and grown up. The bouncy rear is gone as well -- I tried going through village humps with minimal braking and it felt quite like a luxury sedan.
Among the three driving modes, Eco seems to be where I would have it on on a daily basis. Hyundai seems to have gotten it right. Most other cars on Eco mode are too mellow - smashing the throttle doesn't give you enough power to overtake that 18 wheeler truck driving in front of you at 30km/h. The Tucson, however, gives its full power when floored, giving you redline overtaking power when you need it. When feathering the throttle, Eco mode shifts earlier than any of the other modes to keep things frugal: from Tagaytay to Makati, I averaged 15km/L.
Sport mode, on the other hand, likes to keep your RPM up like the way my uncle used to drive back in his teenage days. In an instant, the refined Dr. Jekyll turns into short-tempered Mr. Hyde. With the revs high, there is the safety of engine braking when you let go of the throttle, but fuel consumption goes through the roof. I did 6.7km/L from Makati to Tagaytay on Sport mode.
Normal mode is a mix of both Eco and Sport which doesn't really make sense to me. It seems to want to do both modes half-heartedly. Like most cars that do this, it feels a bit mediocre. Stick with Eco or Sport on the Tucson. Also, more feedback from the steering wheel would be very much appreciated.
In many ways, even if this isn't the typically specced Tucson that's available to everyone, it is galaxies away from the previous model. The ride, the design, the engine, the refinement, and the equipment. As a matter of opinion, I think it's the best looking compact SUV in the segment, even in this gopping shade of blue - it is still the most handsome. This new Tucson does everything relatively well not just for the person behind the wheel, but for everyone else that's in it. It's considerate, it's plush, it's comfortable, and above all else, it put smiles on the faces of my wife and kids wherever we went - and that is something you can't really put a price on.
Ex-Public Highway Racer