2018 Hyundai Tucson Range Review

2018 Hyundai Tucson Range Review

Overall Rating


4 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

4 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

4 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

4 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

4 out of 5 stars


4 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProEuro look; value; comfort; engines.

  2. ConOnly the most expensive Tucson offers auto-braking.

  3. The Pick: 2018 Hyundai Tucson Elite (AWD) 4D Wagon

What stands out?

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The Hyundai Tucson is an enjoyable, well-equipped and very comfortable medium SUV that seats five. A powerful diesel engine is optional, and you can also get a smooth and swift turbo petrol. All-wheel drive is available, as is auto braking. Every Tucson has a reversing camera, and all are covered by Hyundai’s five-year warranty.

What might bug me?

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If you choose a Tucson Elite or Highlander AWD with a petrol engine, possibly driving in heavy traffic. That turbocharged 1.6-litre is available only with a seven-speed dual-clutch auto gearbox, which will not quite match the fluid take-up from rest that you get with a conventional or CVT auto, and therefore requires a little more care in stop-start conditions.

Otherwise not much, and especially since the latter half of May 2017, when Hyundai put its best non-turbo petrol engine into all two-wheel drive Tucsons (previously only one, the Active X, got this).

At the same time, Hyundai extended support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to all Tucsons – allowing you to operate your smartphone from the car’s touchscreen. (Previously, only the less costly Tucsons, the Active and Active X, offered this).

What body styles are there?

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Five-door SUV-style wagon only.

Some Tucsons drive only their front wheels, while others drive all four wheels. The Tucson is classed as a medium SUV, lower priced.

What features do all Tucsons have?

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Cruise control, air conditioning, a reversing camera, and rear parking sensors (these help you judge how far the bumper is from obstacles).

Headlights that turn on automatically when it’s getting dark, and bright, long-lived LED daytime running lights.

A colour touchscreen, from which you can control the audio system. Sound sources include an AM/FM radio, aux and USB inputs, and Bluetooth phone calls and audio streaming. Controls on the steering wheel for the audio system.

Support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which lets you display apps from your smartphone on the car’s touchscreen and operate them from there.

Roof rails, which make it easier to fit rooftop luggage systems.

Hill-start assist, which operates the brakes automatically to make take-offs on steep hills easier.

Aluminium alloy wheels (which don’t need plastic trim), and a full-size spare alloy wheel and tyre.

Six airbags. Electronic stability control, which can help you control a skidding car. (For the placement of airbags, and more on Tucson safety features, please open the Safety section below.)

Every Hyundai Tucson carries a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

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The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel uses least fuel of the three engines available in a Tucson, consuming as little as 6.4 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined). This diesel four-cylinder – which Hyundai calls the 2.0 R-Series – is also the most powerful engine in a Tucson. And every diesel Tucson drives all four wheels.

In the real world the diesel uses a bit more fuel than that, and especially when lugging around town. On a long highway trip you could expect about 7.5 litres/100km, but if you use the car mainly around town then a long-term average nearer 11 litres/100km is likely.

Therefore, one reason you might not choose the diesel is that most of your driving is short suburban trips, where its fuel use advantage is less significant. As well, a diesel Tucson needs frequent 30-minute highway drives to prevent clogging of its particulate filter, which prevents exhaust soot from dispersing into the atmosphere.

A second reason you might not choose the diesel is that you want to pay less for your Tucson: at any equipment level, the diesel costs more than its petrol alternative.

Finally, both of the Tucson’s petrol engines are smoother and quieter than the diesel.

For fuel use, it makes little difference which petrol engine you choose.

The more powerful of the petrols is the 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder that you can get with the more expensive Tucsons, the Elite AWD and Highlander. Hyundai calls it the 1.6 T-GDi, and it uses 7.7 litres/100km on the official test.

In a real-world comparison conducted for Wheels magazine, a Tucson Highlander with this engine averaged 10.9 litres/100km, ranking second for efficiency among four medium SUVs reviewed (behind a Mazda CX-5 – 10.2 litres/100km).

The less powerful petrol engine is the GDI (for gasoline direct injection) 2.0-litre non-turbo four-cylinder supplied with front-drive Tucsons – Active 2WD, Active X, and Elite 2WD. It uses about as much fuel as the 1.6 turbo – Wheels recorded a 10.7 litres/100km average.

The 2.0-litre petrol engine is available with either a six-speed manual gearbox (Active and Active X) or a conventional six-speed automatic (Active, Active X, and Elite).

The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel comes only with a conventional six-speed automatic gearbox (Active, Elite, and Highlander).

The 1.6-litre turbo-petrol comes only with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox (Elite and Highlander).

A dual-clutch automatic works like a manual gearbox that’s controlled robotically. It reduces fuel use and offers very smooth shifts on the highway. But it cannot match the very fluid, elastic starts from rest that you get with a conventional automatic.

(Power outputs and all other Tucson specifications are available from the Cars Covered menu, under the main image on this page.)

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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The least costly Tucson is the Active 2WD. It comes with the 2.0 petrol engine, 17-inch wheels, cloth seat trim, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, and the features in all Tucsons.

Paying more for an Active X gains you leather on the seats (there is a mix of real and fake leather), a nicer feeling steering wheel and gear knob, and more attractive door trims. Wheel diameter grows an inch to 18 inches, and the correspondingly lower profile tyres look sportier and sharpen the steering slightly. You also get front fog lights and power folding, heated side mirrors.

For a bit more than you would pay for an Active X you could have instead an Active diesel. You trade the extra features of the Active X for a diesel engine and all-wheel drive – the latter enhancing security and stability when the going gets slippery. (An auto gearbox is standard.)

Spending more again for a Tucson Elite buys you a smart key and a start button, which let you unlock and start the car with your key kept safely in a pocket or bag. Dual-zone climate control allows you to set different temperatures for each side of the cabin. Seats are trimmed partly in leather, the driver’s seat is power-adjustable, and you can control your phone from the steering wheel. Windscreen wipers turn on automatically when it’s raining. And the wheel diameter grows to 19 inches, with wider tyres that supply more dry-weather grip.

The Tucson Elite also brings you an 8.0-inch touchscreen, and dedicated satellite navigation. Headlights use very bright, long-lasting LEDs, and additional LED lights shine into corners. Puddle lights illuminate the ground under door sills, and courtesy lights show the door handles. A power-operated tailgate opens automatically when you stand behind it while in possession of the key.

In an Elite you can stick with 2WD, in which case you receive the same engine as the Active and Active X. Or you can go for all-wheel drive, which allows you to have either of the more powerful engines – the turbo-petrol or the turbo-diesel.

Going for a Tucson Highlander adds power adjustment for the front passenger’s seat, and heating and ventilation to both front seats. A tyre pressure monitor warns you if a tyre has lost air (this can give you extra time to get a slow-leaking puncture seen to).

The Highlander also brings you an active safety suite that includes autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, blind spot detection, lane change assist, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

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The Tucson Active rides more comfortably on its 17-inch wheels than the Active X, Elite and Highlander ride on their 18s and 19s, because the lower profile tyres on the bigger wheels have less rubber and air cushioning the wheels from the road. The difference is most pronounced at city speeds.

Of eight colours available only two, Pure White and Polar White, come without extra cost. Other colours cost about $600.

How comfortable is the Tucson?

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The Hyundai Tucson has everything the passengers need to be very comfortable, from ample room to an absorbent ride and great seats.

The Tucson handles bumps smoothly. Its suspension feels more supple than that on most alternative medium SUVs, without being floaty.

The front-seat cushions are generously proportioned and nicely cushioned, and the backrests offer good side support. The leather-trimmed steering wheel is nice to hold. Minor controls (such as those for the air-conditioning and audio systems) are neatly laid out.

The Tucson’s steering-wheel buttons help the driver to work the audio system, a paired phone and the cruise control. The satellite navigation on Elite and Highlander versions is easily programmed via the central touchscreen.

Occupants are terrifically well insulated from noises and harshness from the engine, suspension and tyres, which makes the Tucson feel solid and refined. The engines themselves are nice too. The petrols – the 1.6 turbo in particular – are a bit quieter and smoother than the diesel.

The Tucson’s steering, accelerator and brake controls are smoothly responsive, and light to operate. Even the 2.0 petrol in 2WD Tucsons can handle highway cruising quite comfortably. It is when overtaking, or perhaps when climbing long hills with a full load, that you might wish for the additional thrust that either turbo will give you.

What about safety in a Hyundai Tucson?

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Anti-lock brakes, stability control, a strong body, six airbags, a reversing camera, and seatbelt reminders for all positions, are solid safety fundamentals in all Hyundai Tucsons.

The airbags are in the usual places: two directly in front of the driver and front passenger; one alongside each front occupant at chest level to protect from side impacts; and a curtain airbag down each side protecting the heads of front and rear occupants.

The Tucson Highlander adds active safety systems. Autonomous emergency braking warns you of obstacles in front of the car, typically a slower vehicle, and applies the brakes automatically if you do not react. It will bring the car to a stop from speeds up to 80km/h.

The Highlander also has blind-spot detection, which warns when a vehicle is alongside out of view. Lane change assist alerts you if a vehicle in an adjacent lane is approaching quickly from behind. Lane departure warning lets you know that you are drifting distractedly out of your lane (a sign of fatigue), and lane keeping assist acts on the steering to help you bring the car back. A rear cross-traffic alert warns when reversing that something is crossing your path, which could save you from car-park bingles.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Tucson five stars for safety, its maximum, in January 2016. The Tucson achieved perfect scores in the pole and side-impact parts of the ANCAP test, on the way to a terrific total score of 35.53 out of 37.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

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The Hyundai Tucson came second in a November 2015 Wheels comparison of four popular mid-sized SUVs, and was hailed as a near-match for the evergreen Subaru Forester – both models scored eight stars. The Korean car industry has certainly come of age, and the Tucson is a fitting poster car.

The Tucson is a responsive, well-balanced handler. It grips the road surely and is capable of surprisingly quick cornering without excessive body lean. These are all qualities you would not have found in a Korean Sports Utility Vehicle a decade ago – nor in almost any SUV for that matter.

The steering is quite keen, although it’s not as feel-rich as the steering systems in fine-handling SUV alternatives such as the Mazda CX-5 and Ford Escape.

The Highlander’s 19-inch wheels and low profile tyres give it the most direct steering and the crispest handling of all the Tucsons.

The turbo petrol and diesel Tucsons are the most responsive to drive. You don’t have to press the accelerator far for them to accelerate effortlessly.

All-wheel-drive Tucsons offer extra stability in slippery conditions, such as on gravel or wet roads.

Even with AWD, road-oriented medium SUVs such as the Tucson are suited to only light off-road duty, such as snowy conditions or reasonably smooth dirt tracks. The Tucson is one of the more versatile, thanks to good ground clearance, the inclusion of a full-size spare wheel and tyre, and a standard downhill brake control system that can regulate the car’s speed automatically on steep descents. However, reviewers have noted that grip on dirt from the standard tyres is relatively poor, and that the Tucson’s electronic stability control can be slow to intervene when the tyres begin to slip.

How is life in the rear seats?

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It’s comfortable in the back of a Tucson. The seat is broad, inviting and supportive, and there’s a good view forward and out the sides. Leg, toe, head and shoulder room are generous.

Not so generous are the doors: a low roof-line and short upper frame hinder access for grown-ups.

Each door has a bottle-holder, however, and there are twin cup holders in a centre armrest. Elite and Highlander versions (only) get rear-passenger air-conditioning outlets in the rear of the centre console.

How is it for carrying stuff?

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With the second row seats upright, the Tucson cargo bay swallows 488 litres of stuff, and with the second row folded (60-40), cargo capacity is a cavernous 1478 litres.

There’s room for a folded pram and a few large bags in the back (with the second row still upright) – likely enough to accept a family’s luggage for a week away.

The hands-free powered tailgate on Elites and Highlanders opens when you walk up to it with the car’s key in your pocket, which eases loading when you have your hands full.

Where does Hyundai make the Tucson?

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The Tucson Actives, Active X and Elites are made in South Korea. Highlanders are built in the Czech Republic.

(Prior to May 2017, only the Tucson Active X was made in South Korea, with all others sourced from the Czech Republic.)

What might I miss that similar cars have?

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Perhaps the driver appeal of the Ford Escape (prior to 2017 named the Kuga), which has sharper steering than the Tucson and an even more potent, 2.0-litre, turbo-petrol engine option. The Subaru Forester also offers a bigger and more powerful turbo petrol engine.

Possibly seven seats in a compact SUV package, like you get in a Mitsubishi Outlander or a Nissan X-Trail.

The X-Trail, Mazda CX-5 and Volkswagen Tiguan supply AEB standard on all versions, for example.

Among other cars worth considering are the Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage, and Toyota RAV4.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

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We like the Tucson Elite with the turbo petrol 1.6 engine and all-wheel drive. The Elite brings a big boost in equipment for the extra outlay. And this drivetrain, which costs less than the diesel, is smoother and more refined than its oil-burning counterpart while delivering similar low-speed driveability and urban economy.

Are there plans to update the Tucson soon?

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The current, third-generation, Hyundai Tucson arrived in mid-2015, replacing the ix35 (as the second-gen Tucson was named in Australia). About September 2016, Hyundai added an AWD diesel version of the Active. About the same time it upgraded the cloth seats and 18-inch wheels of the Tucson Elite to part-leather and 19s.

About May 2017 Hyundai extended the more powerful, direct-injected, 2.0-litre petrol engine, originally supplied only with the Tucson Active X, to the Tucson Active and the Tucson Elite 2WD (which previously had used a port-injected 2.0 petrol). It also extended support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, initially restricted to the Active and Active X, to the bigger touchscreens in the Elite and Highlander, making the superior smartphone integration available on every Tucson.

The Tucson will receive a facelift for the 2019 model year, which is expected to arrive in the latter part of 2018. External changes include headlights and daytime running lights, and curved lines on either side of the “cascading” grille, while inside gains a freshly designed dashboard with floating 7.0-inch touchscreen that’s similar to the i30 hatchback.

The next all-new Tucson might be expected about 2021.