2015 Hyundai Tucson

Rating

68/100

Background

Capable of being comfortable, spacious and economical, crossover SUVs are some of the most popular family automobiles on the road today. Practically every automaker has answered the call for these versatile vehicles, and as a result there are lots of extraordinary crossovers from which to choose. Hyundai’s 2015 Tucson is a compact crossover that is certainly likable for its maneuverable dimensions and stylish exterior, but up against plenty of excellent competition, it seems to need more to stand out.
This spritely Hyundai isn’t without virtue, but there are several things holding it back from being a top choice. The 2015 Tucson eases over small bumps and highway imperfections while also being easy to maneuver in to parking spots, but it doesn’t fare so well if you’re trying to pack all the family gear for vacation. Passenger space is adequate, but the Tucson has less cargo space than pretty much all of the segment leaders. The smallish footprint of the Tucson seems to be paired with a similarly underpowered base engine, too. Decent performance can be had with the optional 2.4-liter engine, but there are much more inspiring options out there.
With a smaller-than-average footprint and less powerful engines, you’d think the Tucson would do well on fuel economy — and for the most part, it does. During SUVS testing, we found the Tucson’s EPA-estimated 24 miles per gallon combined an easy number to achieve. Most rivals, though, can offer better mileage numbers to start with, and the best competitors return numbers as high as 30 miles per gallon combined.
As previously mentioned, there’s quite a bit of selection in the crossover segment these days. The excellent 2015 Mazda CX-5 is one of the sleekest crossovers available, and it’s one of our favorites to drive. Where the Tucson is uninspired and rather dull to drive, the CX-5 is responsive and fun and has a particularly upscale interior. The Honda CR-V and the 2015 Ford Escape are two of the most well-rounded vehicles in the segment, thanks to quiet, upscale interiors and laudable fuel economy ratings. The CR-V and the Escape also have more cargo capacity than the Tucson. A closer match for the Tucson in terms of size is the 2015 Jeep Cherokee, but even the Cherokee is laid out in a way that the backseat offers more passenger space.
Compared to such strong competition, the SUVS "C" rated 2015 Hyundai Tucson is a passable choice, but its competitors are a bit harder to resist.

Drive

Many budget-conscious shoppers will be tempted to choose the smaller 2.0-liter engine in the base GLS version of the 2015 Tucson. But price range permitting, we recommend stepping up to the SE or Limited, as those trims get the stronger 2.4-liter engine, which returns nearly the same fuel economy.
On the highway, the Tucson rides quietly and comfortably. With its low-effort steering, the Tucson also navigates the concrete jungle and as nimbly as a compact hatchback car, and it remains composed around sharp turns, too. The Tucson’s diminutive dimensions help it achieve a tidy turning circle, and in general, the Tucson gives you the comfort of a bigger crossover without feeling as large.

Exterior

The 2015 Hyundai Tucson is a five-passenger compact crossover SUV offered in three trim levels: GLS, SE and Limited.
The base GLS comes standard with the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, 17-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, LED running lights, a rear spoiler, cloth upholstery, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a trip computer, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split-folding rear seatbacks with recline, Bluetooth phone and sound connectivity, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, iPod/USB connectivity and satellite radio.
Available as an optional extra on the GLS is the Popular Equipment package, which includes automatic headlights, a 4.3-inch touchscreen display, a rearview camera, a six-way power driver seat (with two-way power lumbar) and cloth/premium vinyl (leatherette) upholstery.
The SE gets all of the above equipment, along with the bigger 2.4-liter engine, foglights, heated side mirrors, sport body cladding, roof rails, heated front seats and rear climate vents.
Step up to the Limited and you’ll get 18-inch wheels, chrome exterior trim, keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics and a retractable rear cargo cover.
Optional for the Limited is the Technology package, which adds LED taillights, a panoramic sunroof, an upgraded seven-speaker sound system, a 7-inch touchscreen, HD radio and a navigation system.

Interior

The 2015 Hyundai Tucson has an unusually stylish cabin, highlighted by a sleek dashboard that complements the exterior’s striking lines. Unfortunately, the Tucson’s outward visibility is compromised by its organic pinched-at-the-edges side windows and relatively small rear glass. The dashboard controls are generally clearly labeled and simple to use, especially with the optional 7-inch high-resolution touchscreen interface. The default 4.3-inch touchscreen on the SE and Limited is less impressive, but still a nice bit of standard technology at this modest price point.
Up front, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel finally is standard, so tall drivers should be able to get a cozy traction in every Tucson. The rear seat, however, is a bit smaller than the norm, and although it features reclining 60/40-split seatbacks, the bench still doesn’t slide fore and aft, which would be handy in the compact Tucson for optimizing the balance of passenger and cargo space.
To be fair, the 25.7 cubic feet of cargo room behind the Tucson’s rear seatbacks is useful; so is the 55.8 cubic feet with those seatbacks folded down (even though they don’t fold completely flat). But compared with segment competitors like the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4, the Tucson’s hauling capacity falls well short.

Safety

Standard safety features on the 2015 Hyundai Tucson include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, a hill-holder feature and hill descent control. A rearview camera is standard for the SE and Limited trim levels. The Blue Link telematics suite, standard on Limited, includes emergency safety assistance, stolen-vehicle tracking, geo-fencing (allowing parents to set limits for teen drivers) and other smartphone-based features via the Blue Link mobile app.
In SUVS brake testing, the Tucson Limited with two-wheel drive came to a stop from 60 miles per hour in 124 feet, a slightly longer-than-average distance for this segment.
In government crash testing, the Tucson received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for total frontal impact protection and five stars for total side impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Tucson its top rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset impact test. In the IIHS’s small-overlap frontal-offset test, however, the Tucson earned the lowest rating of "Poor." In the remaining tests for side impact safety, roof strength and head restraint and seat design, the Tucson earned a "Good" rating.

Specs

The 2015 Hyundai Tucson offers two different engines. Each is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional.
The GLS comes with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that produces 164 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 25 miles per gallon combined (23 city/29 highway) with front-wheel drive and 23 miles per gallon combined (21/25) with all-wheel drive.
Both the Tucson SE and the Limited get a larger 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 182 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy stands at 24 miles per gallon combined (21/28) with front-wheel drive and 22 miles per gallon combined (20/25) with all-wheel drive.
In SUVS testing, it took 8.4 seconds for a front-drive Tucson Limited to go from zero to 60 mph. That’s better than average for a base model compact crossover with a base engine, but rather slow for one with a supposedly upgraded engine. On a 116-mile SUVS mixed-driving evaluation loop, we were able to slightly surpass the EPA’s combined fuel economy estimate, getting 26.6 mpg.

Value

Eye-catching styling; conveniently compact dimensions; cozy front seats; smooth drive quality; lengthy warranty.

Verdict

The 2015 Hyundai Tucson serves up a satisfying blend of fashion, features and maneuverability, but other competitor small crossovers can do that, while providing superior versatility and a more enjoyable driving experience.

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