UPDATED: APRIL 2, 2015
NEW YORK, NY – Hyundai is back in the compact crossover utility vehicle game with the introduction of the 2016 Tucson, which will take place today at the New York auto show.
The current generation Tucson was introduced as a 2010 model and although it was a huge hit at the time, the competition has heated up over the intervening years and Hyundai’s entry was showing its age.
“Six model years is a long time for Hyundai, especially,” Hyundai Canada spokesperson Chad Heard said during a media preview of the all-new iteration. “We went from youngest to oldest in the segment in five years.”
With this new generation, however, “We’ll be young again,” Heard says of the 2016 Tucson, which will arrive in dealers’ showrooms by late summer.
The Tucson’s total remake has resulted in a vehicle that’s longer and wider than the current generation, with much of the increased length due to a longer, 2,670-millimetre wheelbase.
Stretching the platform has resulted in more interior room, particularly in the rear seat and cargo area, which now accommodates up to 513 litres with the rear seatbacks upright.
The new Tucson chassis is stiffer, thanks to the addition of more than 50% advanced high-strength steel. The current generation used about 18% high-strength steel.
The exterior, which was conceived by Hyundai’s German design studio, has a fresh, new look with strong overall styling ties to its larger sibling, the Santa Fe. The newly available LED twin-projector headlamps sweep up into the fenders and the brand’s signature grille, introduced on the 2015 Genesis and Sonata sedans, provides a focal point for the front end.
Forward-raking wheel arches surround available 19-inch alloy wheels, which are being offered for the first time on the Tucson. At the rear, new LED taillights flow around the rear of the vehicle, not only providing a stylish touch but also increasing rear visibility. Twin, chromed exhaust tips add a sporty flair.
Although the vehicle height is basically unchanged, the sweeping styling, culminating in a lip spoiler over the rear liftgate window, gives it a sleeker look.
There’s a Canadian connection to the new Tucson – the interior has been designed by Toronto native Andrew Moir.
The interior sketches by the 44-year-old designer, who works in Hyundai’s California studio, were selected as the production design after a global competition and Moir and his team of designers have turned his concepts into reality.
Moir, who started working on the interior design about three years ago, says an inspiration for the sweeping, hooded instrument panel and centre console came from the former TWA terminal at JFK airport.
While it sounded a bit far fetched at first, Moir whipped out his smartphone and showed me a picture of the terminal – and yes, even I could recognize the similarities. The hooded instrument cluster resembles the arched terminal structure and even the side vents on the panel reflect the window design of the building.
In addition to the unique design of the instrument panel, Moir has stepped up the choice of materials inside the spacious cabin. Since this vehicle must compete, especially overseas, with more upscale brands, the Tucson has been fitted with interior materials that exceed one’s expectations for vehicles at this price point.
“It’s the Hyundai way,” says Moir, who notes other features, such as the long, glass roof on the display model at the preview, as examples of the added value that’s become a key part of Hyundai’s appeal. Craftsmanship also appears to be of the highest standards.
The Tucson’s front seats feature extended seat cushions for improved leg support, while heated and cooled functions are available. Rear-seat occupants can also enjoy heated seats and reclining backrests are available.
One of the new convenience features is the Smart Liftgate, which opens when the key holder is standing near the rear of the car for a few seconds.
Two powertrain choices
The base powertrain in this third generation of the Tucson will be a 2.0-litre Nu four-cylinder with direct gas injection pumping out 164 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. It is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission with a Shiftronic manual shifting mode. This transmission also features an overdrive lock-up torque converter for better fuel economy at highway speeds.
To reduce noise and vibration from the powertrain, Hyundai engineers have added hydraulic transmission mounts and recalibrated the engine mounts. No manual transmission will be offered to North American consumers, although a manual gearbox is available in some overseas markets.
A 1.6-litre, turbocharged Gamma four-cylinder with direct gasoline injection is optional. It generates 175 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque and has been tuned to deliver increased low-end torque and improved fuel efficiency. Peak torque is available at just 1,500 revs and holds through 4,500 rpm, improving drivability and response, especially at lower engine speeds.
This engine is coupled to a segment-first seven-speed EcoShift dual-clutch transmission, which is designed to deliver quick, seamless shifts and snappy acceleration while maintaining impressive fuel efficiency.
Both powertrains will be available with all-wheel drive. The AWD system is a new design co-developed by Magna Powertrains and Hyundai and has been available previously on the other CUV/SUVs in the brand’s lineup.
The system is designed to deliver 100% of the engine’s torque output to the front wheels in normal driving, although it can rapidly shift up to 40% to the rear axle automatically as conditions dictate. The driver can also select an AWD lock function that delivers a differentiated torque split between the front and rear wheels when driving conditions are slippery or during off-road maneuvers.
The Hyundai/Magna system also includes Active Cornering Control, which transfers torque side-to-side to suit the circumstances. The system reduces understeer and improves cornering performance by applying braking force to the inside rear wheel and sending more torque to the outside rear wheel. The system also includes hill-start assist and downhill brake control.
For 2016, the Tucson offers a full suite of safety features, including six standard airbags, autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning system, lane change assist, rear parking sensors and a rearview camera.
Pricing for the 2016 Tucson will be announced closer to the on-sale date this summer.