Fri | Mar 23, 2018

2018 Hyundai Tucson: Value and comfort at a good price

Published:Sunday | December 17, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Local Hyundai Magna Motors are not being shy about their 2018 line-up. We test drove the Tucson 2 Plus. This is a step up from the basic two-wheel drive version and comes with a good dose of creature comforts.

It is slotted at the mid-point of the Tucson Collection, since above that there is the Tucson 4-wheel drive and loads more comfort like leather interior, six airbags, and even a panoramic sunroof. Sales Supervisor Andrew Channer is even talking about a turbocharged version that is destined to be a 'snorter', but let's stick with the test model for the moment.

The layout of the gauges and controls is clear. The dials are free of gimmicks and unnecessary graphic clutter. The cockpit has a slight wrap-around features but doesn't leave you feeling cramped. The centre console leaves the right functions in button form, and moves the remainder to a touchscreen.




There is dual-climate air control (driver/passenger). Most of the controls are on the steering wheel, including volume mute, mode, cruise-control radio, and phone. The Tucson, like the Elantra and the Creta, comes with a 'sick' piece of kit called Hyundai Smart Play with voice control. The touchscreen radio offers podcasts, audio books, and music, but that is only the start of the fun.

Plug in your smartphone and take yourself to gimmick heaven. There is Siri, a crisp sounding voice that responds to your voice commands. It uses Google Maps to find locations and give detailed directions. This sounds just right for the mid-level travelling executive. Here is a snippet of one of the conversations we had with Siri on the test drive.

Me: "Hey Siri, I'm hungry."

Siri : "I don't want you feeling all peckish. Turn option is Oriental Pearl, a Chinese place which averages three stars. I can call one of them, or get directions for you."

I nearly stopped driving in amazement. "Welcome to the future," I said to myself. Again, the system is totally hands-free, with voice commands for calls and pretty much all else.

The Tucson's ride and handling err more on the side of predictability than outright sportiness. A MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear setup deliver a fairly firm ride. The shocks are responsive, soaking up potholes. There is stiffness in the suspension that limits body roll, thus giving a sure, confident ride.

The 2.0L MPI (Multi Point Injection) gasolene engine delivers 157 hp, and while you couldn't keep pace with Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton, the test unit answered the question posed by my heavy right foot. Power is delivered through a Shiftonic six-speed automatic transmission that has available sport mode and eco mode to save fuel. There is talk of a 1.6-litre turbocharged in-line four cylinder engine that produces 175 hp and 195 lb-ft and comes paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, but those who want that snorting beast had better wait until the middle of 2018, according to Channer.

The loads of features are just too numerous to mention, but we couldn't go without highlighting the automatic wipers. Once they sense moisture, they are activated, and the speed increases based on the amount of moisture sensed. There are front and rear sensors along with a backup camera that has a predictive feature that tells you where you are likely to end up in reversing. The sensors also double as a pedestrian alert.

The test model is a feature-rich steal at $4.7 million. The rest of the model range starts with the base, model two-wheel drive at $4.5 million, up to the added bells and whistles of the four-wheel drive , leather interior, sunroof and a whole lot more for $6.5 million.

By the way, did I mention that there is a countdown feature for service intervals? That will be a big help to those of us who enjoy our ride so much that we forget that it needs a mechanic's touch every now and then. With every purchase, you get the Magna Motors 525 package. This translates to five years warranty, two years maintenance, and five years roadside assistance. Not bad; not bad at all.