“Missi and I were invited to Hyundai’s Urban Adventure for the launch of the 2016 Tucson, oddly enough, our drive took place along rural and even dirt roads along the Minnesota and Wisconsin border. Thankfully everything else about the 2016 Tucson actually made sense…”
Crossover, or Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV) is a term that most of you should be familiar with by now, and if you’re not, you should be —because it’s here to stay. Think of the SUV and how it’d be nearly impossible to come across someone ignorant to that term, but rewind fifteen years or so and the SUV was just starting to become a common term in the real world. Fast forward fifteen years from today, and CUV’s will rule the world like little agile velociraptors.
Ask any automotive expert and you’ll get a long, detailed and most likely boring description of what a Crossover is, but to put it in simple terms, a Crossover is a small-er SUV based on the frame/chassis of a small sedan or coupe. Therefore achieving a similar size, weight, economy and handling proportions and characteristics of a car, but with a higher ride-height and cargo capacity, although the latter is debatable.
Now that I’ve given you a plebeian definition of the Crossover, I can talk to you about the 2016 Hyundai Tucson.
Imagine the moment as production is set to commence for a brand new model, and the crucial task of naming it springs up. For most manufacturers this would employ their marketing and advertising teams, and maybe even the help of focus groups to birth a timeless, yet catchy name. But for Hyundai, they just said, hey —we already have the Santa Fe, so let’s name it after a city 500 miles southwest of it. The Tucson was born.
The Tucson arrived to the states in 2004 as the baby SUV and designed to cater to small families with active lifestyles, and while sales were decent, it never truly stood out in the crowded segment. Fast forward nearly eleven years, and the Tucson has changed substantially, but it’s also matured and grown wiser. Like many of us —right?
51% of the new-generation Tucson is made with high-strength steel, it sports a fancy 7-speed EcoShift dual-clutch transmission, active cornering LED headlights, a front-facing camera and radar that will keep you from running over annoying pedestrians (sorry road-ragers), but more importantly it offers more cargo space than a Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5 or even a massive Infitini QX80. So if you are rich and thought you needed a full-size luxury SUV to carry a ton of stuff, I just saved you about $50,000 —you’re welcome.
Hyundai designed with new Tucson with one goal in mind, to beat the competition and to be named an IIHS Top Safety Pick.
Walking up to the Tucson for the first time was a neat experience, not only because we had the opportunity to be one of the few media outlets to be invited to the event, but because it was actually great to look at. Sharp headlight and taillight angles gracefully split the rounded quarter panels on the front and the back, and an aggressive pseudo-floating roof line compliments the aggressive character of the hexagonal front grille.
A straight forward, checklist driven interior design dominated the cabin. You know? AC Controls – check, Radio – check, Heated seats – check, etc. It’s clean, well thought-out, and quite airy and spacious. Although the massive panoramic sunroof may be to blame for that. My biggest take away? Extremely comfortable and cooled seats. Loved them.
One of the friendly Hyundai PR bosses approached Missi and I at one of the break areas along the driving route, and quickly pulled out pen and paper and asked for our unfiltered feedback. Thankfully, I already my speech all lined up. “Premium feel” I said, it feels like a pricier car, the fit and finish, the firm suspension, the responsive brakes, the different drive modes, it all feels solid. Missi then shared her approval of the heated second row seats, as well as the AC vents and USB chargers in the rear center console. Even though those features aren’t “driving” impressions, you bet your butt they’ll impact kids enough to make your road trip a pleasant or a miserable experience. The only drawbacks we both noticed were corky transmission behavior at low speeds, a locking rear-diff OFF light which stays on at all times (pretty annoying), and the fact that at nearly $33,000 for the Limited AWD Tucson, adaptive cruise-control isn’t offered —yet.
Technology and Safety
Computers play a big role in keeping us alive before, during and even after a collision. The 2016 Tucson is equipped with the right technology to prevent you from being involved in a wreck. A sensor-driven Blind Spot monitoring system, Lane Change Assist, and a rearview camera with rear cross-traffic alert are part of the new suite of accident avoidance systems, but Hyundai went all out and added an automatic braking system with pedestrian detection. If the inevitable does happen, the Blue Link system will even emit a distress signal to a monitoring center where police, medical, or even roadside assistance personnel can be dispatched.
More to come
All in all, we left our “Urban Adventure” curious of how the Tucson can stand up to everyday life, kids, pets, and because a week-long test won’t be available until later this year, maybe even some snow. That being said, the Tucson is a crossover with enough charm inside and out to lure non-loyal buyers away from Honda, Ford and most definitely Toyota.
With new and updated rides like the Sonata and now the Tucson, Hyundai is definitely lining up to be a major player in the years to come. And talk about lining up against the competition, Hyundai is now the official sponsor of the NFL.
The 2016 Tucson will be on sale later this summer and available in FWD, AWD, and in four different trims: SE, Eco, Sport and Limited. Prices ranging from $22,700 to $34,050
Photos by: Jerry Perez and Hyundai Motor America