Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
Fun, agile and techy is what you will perceive after taking the 2016 Hyundai Tucson for a spin around the block. In my case I had a chance to ride it out for much longer in the boondocks of Minnesota and Wisconsin during the national press launch. My Ruby Wine exterior hue and Beige interior scheme was an attention grabber due to its fully enhanced “Limited” rendition, magnetic profile, glass roof, black body cladding, and spiral 19” alloy rims.
Hyundai is making moves in all the right places including a recently announced partnership with the NFL which gives them access to the fans, athletes of the game, and corporate executives who all partake in America’s favorite sport. With a diverse model lineup that bounces from the micro Accent to the prodigious Equus, the brand has made immense strides since launching 23 products here in the US commencing from 1985. Since the CUV market is an important one, Hyundai is hiding no secrets regarding the importance and success of the latest generation Tucson. The industry segment is rising in sales as customers are snagging up Toyota RAV4s, Honda CR-Vs and Nissan Rouges. In the past the Korean automaker has averaged 45,000 annual sales for the little brute with the focal target representation stemming from single couples (pre-family) seeking distinctive styling and active lifestyle amenities in their vehicles such as low profile roof rails, hitches, Panoramic sunroofs, LED lights, and more than ample storage capacity. Well, at least we know the Tucson provides all of the aforementioned including 31 cubic ft of cargo space (5.3 cu. ft. larger than the outgoing model), besting the Infiniti QX70, Porsche Cayenne and BMW X5. The dual-level floor also leaves room to store the cargo cover.
I consider myself a simple man with simple needs. Needs that can be provided through innovation and thoughtful technology. I was enamored for example with Hyundai’s latest collaboration between the Hyundai Blue Link Smartwatch app and Apple Watch. With the app loaded on your phone you can pair the Apple Watch and instruct your vehicle to execute a variety of tasks such as locking or unlocking the doors, starting or turning off the ignition, and flashing the lights or honking the horn. It takes a few seconds for each instruction since signals have to be sent to the cloud and then relayed back to the vehicle. Though, I would like the watch’s display screen a bit larger so I am not hitting the wrong command. “Giving customers more ways to connect with their cars is what it is all about,” said Frank Ferrara, executive vice president, customer satisfaction, Hyundai Motor America. “The Blue Link Apple Watch app complements all of our other high-tech features.” Hyundai should also pay attention to the hacking of Chrysler’s Uconnect where cyber thieves were controlling owner vehicles.
Though, I’m in total agreement with Ferrara. Typically a vehicle starting at $22,700 is devoid of the amenities found in older and more robust sibling models like the Genesis. For example, all Tucsons will come standard with the user-friendly 8” Touchscreen display which feeds the navigation, audio, rear camera, and Blue Link Telematics. How about the Hands-Free Smart Liftgate that opens automatically when drivers approach the vehicle with the key fob (3 ft in range for 3 seconds) or the Downhill Brake Control, Hillstart Assist, Electronic Stability Control, Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, or Lane Change Assist? I need all of that in my ride, especially when the kids are tagging along. Additional preventative safety measurements are considered by way of front, front side and side-curtain airbags with rollover sensors. Yep, Hyundai has covered all of today’s safety standard.
The new Tucson is available in four distinctive models as either FWD or AWD including the SE, Eco, Sport, and Limited. My Limited FWD model ($29,900 excludes $895 destination charge) during the morning drive and the AWD model ($31,300 excludes $895 destination charge) during the afternoon route were both loaded like your favorite baked potato. Dual chrome exhaust tips, leather seating surfaces, leather wrapping for the agile steering wheel, 8-way power passenger seats, 10-way power driver seat, heated/ventilated front and rear seats, adjustable recline rear seats, a 1-touch sliding Panoramic moonroof, LED headlamps with Auto Headlight Control (shines around bends), and the tailgate spoiler commingled to give the little guy a menacing profile and a comfortable, but engaging interior. More importantly, I didn’t feel too big or stuffed inside the cabin. Many vehicles of this nature feel claustrophobic.
Both my rides were powered by the energetic 1.6-liter turbocharged GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) 4-cylider engine with 175-horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. Endowed with 3 Driver Modes (Eco, Normal, Sport) the Tucson’s engine is mated to a 7-speed DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission). I kept it in Sport, which offered more zip. This package is definitely not a pocket rocket, but it completes basic acceleration tasks effectively. The 1.6L also comes with the Eco and Sport model while the SE rolls with the base 2-liter GDI 4-cylinder with 164-horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque and is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Efficient, spunky and a joy to drive, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson is keen on keeping up with the crowd in its respective compact utility category. Honda has the numbers currently, but expect a good showdown since Hyundai has stepped up its playoff game plan.